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Justice? How?

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and marveled that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. Isaiah 59: 14-16

What will you do if, in Jersey, justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away? What will you do if the reason why this is happening is that truth has stumbled in the Royal Square, and uprightness cannot enter? What will you do if everyone who departs from evil makes himself a prey – so no whistles are ever blown?

That was the situation in which the ancient writer named Isaiah found himself 2,700 years ago in the year 700 BC. He lived in Jerusalem with his wife and children. He was close, very close, to the ruling authorities in Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea – the Southern Kingdom of Israel.

The people inhabiting both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom had the same ethnic origin. They were, in many ways, similar to the indigenous folk in the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey who originate from Normandy. But these BC 700 people were all descendants of Israel. They were “the people of God.”
God is not always a God of immediate justice, but he is a God of ultimate justice.’ (John Blanchard, preacher and writer)  

What had happened to the Northern Kingdom? You’re not going to believe this of Guernsey and Jersey but in BC 732 the Northern Kingdom went to war against the Southern Kingdom because it wouldn’t co-operate in a fight against the huge Assyrian Empire. Amazingly, the Southern Kingdom then called on the Assyrian Empire to help them against the North. Emperor Sargon II was happy to oblige. He devastated the North in BC 722 in exchange for an annual tax levy payable by the South. Jersey? Guernsey?

What then happened to the Southern Kingdom? They willingly paid the tax levy which Assyria had demanded of them - at first. Then they stopped. Angered by that, Assyria totally destroyed, in BC 701, all the cities of the South except Jerusalem. Jerusalem “merely” suffered a terrible siege.

Within Jerusalem after the siege ended lived Isaiah and his wife and family. The words in bold above set out his answer to a question we often ask: “Why?” Why were things so bad? Isaiah was given the answer – see bold above. It all originated in intangible things – in matters of justice, truth, uprightness, in the fact that whistleblowers were either silent or dead.

The closing words in bold above disclose the LORD’s view of “things”. It displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man. He marveled that there was no one to intercede.

What Isaiah wrote next is what the LORD God would actually do about this dire situation in the world of BC 700. Then his own arm brought him salvation. His righteousness upheld him. Justice would be done.
But not without mercy. Abundant mercy would always and at all times accompany God’s justice.
‘God gives his justice by weight but his mercy without measure.’ (Anon.)  

Isaiah wrote: The LORD put on righteousness as a breastplate (justice), and a helmet of salvation on his head (mercy).  According to their deeds, so will he repay (justice), wrath to his adversaries, repayment (justice) to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment (justice)….. And a Redeemer will come to Zion (mercy), to those in Jacob who turn from transgression (mercy)….

How did the LORD God act in justice in Isaiah’s day? According to their deeds. Put another way – his justice is in what we call the “consequences” of our deeds. It’s the reaping of what we are sowing and have sown.

Look at the awful bitterness between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Justice came upon both – in the consequences which flowed from their own deeds towards each other. This was the justice of God in action.

If so, I need Mercy – I need vastly more mercy than I ever imagined. I am in dire danger unless I obtain the Mercy which always accompanies his Justice. I need the Redeemer…. Thank heaven for the Redeemer who came to Zion with mercy and good news….Jesus Christ the Lord.
Richard Syvret

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