1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD!
The biggest benefit for me, as a teacher, is that I get to learn along with the students. This semester I am teaching a course, Introduction to Christian Ethics, where most of our time in the course is going over a book entitled, Justice: Rights and Wrongs, by philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff. A course like Christian Ethics can be tediously academic and dry; but, in actuality, the course thus far hasn't been either. It's been challenging and inspiring. (OK, slight instructor bias.)
What we are learning is eye-opening. Even the pages of Scripture are coming into better view. The Scriptures tell us what God is interested in. The unfolding drama of the Biblical narrative is about God who is intent on setting the world to rights. That which has been broken, violated, and fallen is being healed, restored, and redeemed. The scope of redemption extends to every inch that's under the curse of judgment and under the curse of sin and injustice. A sign of our fallenness manifests itself in the various forms of injustice that we see around us. Human pride, greed, and hunger for power conspire with the devil to bring about abuse, subjugation, and destruction. Confirmation of the fallen state of the world is so evident that you just need to turn on the TV or look around your immediate surrounding to see it.
Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God, the Reign of God, that addresses our fallen state of sin, bondage, and injustice. Jesus' Lordship is not restricted only to the saving of souls, but the saving of the entire created order. Only He can "fix" the mess we are in. And this fixing is not relegated to His Second Coming. Jesus started this transformation when He came the first time. If this weren't so, Jesus' first coming and the release of the Spirit would have made no difference to how people lived. Of course the mess we are in will one day be confronted like never before at the end of our present time. In the meanwhile, a battle against darkness, sin, and injustice is being waged with the power and love and authority of Christ.
The psalm above is prophetic and Christological in the sense that it's longing is fulfilled in Christ. Jesus will execute justice for the oppressed. Jesus will right the wrongs. Jesus will lift up those who are downtrodden and those considered religiously impure a place of honor and restoration. And the wicked will be cast down. That's what justice demands. The traditional Biblical category of those who are oppressed are mentioned above: the orphan, the widow, the alien (stranger), and the poor. The category of the religiously rejected (the blind) is also included in God's restorative ministry. Jesus who came with justice and healing in his wings, who came to die as an innocent martyr, who came as King is active now through His Spirit and through His Church!
"[So] let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" -- Amos 5:24.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we worship you as the one brings about justice upon this earth. Those who have been wronged you will comfort and lift up. Those who in their wickedness have hurt people, you will confront with your righteousness. Nothing will be overlooked. No one will be forgotten. May your kingship over the state of this world remind us whose we are and our mission in life as well as we walk with you in your power and anointing. In your name, amen.