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Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Here is Zephaniah’s vision of “God with us”

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. – Zephaniah 3:14-15 (ESV)

Zephaniah calls for rejoicing and singing when God comes to be among his people.  The birth of our Savior is about God becoming flesh  and dwelling among us us. What does it look like when God comes? The prophet says, ” he has cleared away your enemies.”  This is more than a birthday – it is the day of God’s victory over our enemies.  Our enemies of evil and death were destroyed through the death and resurrection of our Lord.

Because our enemies have been defeated, we have no need to fear evil, for the King of Israel, the Lord, is in our midst. We our not a people to be caught up with the media driven fear mongering, for we have the Prince of Peace as our Lord.  We do not rush to our guns for our security – we remember that God is with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Psalmist says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

But also, “he has taken away the judgments against you.” What judgments? Earlier in the passage, the prophet rails against unfaithful Israel, calling her rebellious and defiled, “she listens to no voice, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God.” The prophet calls for repentance and humility or else judgement: “I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.”   When God come to be with his people, he will forgive the sins of the humble, and remove the judgment against them and will leave a contrite people that will “seek refuge in the name of the LORD.”

So sing aloud and rejoice this week, God has come and he is in our midst!

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Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic

Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic (Photo credit: jakebouma)

The tragedies that occurred last week may cause us to think that Christmas should be cancelled this year. How can we celebrate in the midst of such terror? How can we be holly and jolly when such a horrible crime has been committed against small children?  How can we open gifts on Christmas morning, when there will be so many families with unopened gifts on a day of mourning?  Well, if Christmas is simply a holly jolly time of gift grabbing and consumerism, then I say it should be cancelled.

However, the above does not describe the true nature of Christmas, at least in any Christian sense. The Christian Christmas is remembrance of Christ our King coming into the world.  In fact, Christmas is about justice.  The ancient peoples in other lands had long experienced brutality, including unjust murders of innocent children. Isaiah foretold of a Servant-King who would “bring forth justice to the nations…” He also said that this man would “not grow faint on be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth. ”  Matthew quote this Old Testament prophecy and states that Jesus fulfills it.

This Christmas we must remember that though the darkness seems all so strong, Christ is the ruler still. This is why we observe advent: to remind us of our great need for a King and Savior. Though many skeptics say such tragedies are evidence that there is no God, we must remember that the final chapter has not yet been written. To give up on God is to give up on justice. The world will not be put to rights without a right judge of the earth.

According to Jesus, children are called the greatest ones in his Kingdom, and has no words but hard words for those who dare offend them. It would be better that they be drowned in the sea than for them to face the wrath of King Jesus.   Christ has come once, he will return again to sort everything out and to execute justice.   As Zechariah says in Luke’s gospel account , “He will save us from all our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.”  Those who have committed atrocities will receive their due – their suicide will not result in an eternal evasion of justice. Those who have suffered unjustly, we be made whole.

This Christmas, let us remember the birth of our Savior,  and anticipate that he will come again, rendering justice to the earth, and peace to those with whom he is pleased.

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