Read part one here.
The Courtroom of Redemptive History – Viewing Biblical Justice through the redemptive narrative
Scene 5 – Creation (Gen 1) Biblical justice begins with the creation narrative. In it, we see a God who creates the world as an overflow of His goodness (and not out of a sense of loneliness). This delineation is important because God is not trying to correct a deficiency or rectify a wrong. Rather, the creation of the world begins through an act of mercy and grace. In the creation of the world, we see the beginning of God’s form of justice that is displayed throughout the Bible. In God’s justice system, although the judge is the embodiment of truth and fairness, He also gives grace so that he would ultimately receive glory.
Scene 6 – The Fall (Brokenness in the world) (Gen 3) In the fall of mankind, we see cosmic injustice being leveraged against God. The good and benevolent judge is undermined and betrayed by his own creation. Due to God being a faithful judge, he does not let the guilty go unpunished. (Exodus 34:7) Man’s rebellion brings sin into the world. Sin is not only a personal brokenness that exists between God and man and in human relationships. Sin also brings about cosmic brokenness throughout God’s creation. The bible says that the wages, or the payment due for the offense, of sin is death (Romans 6:23). As a result of Adam’s rebellion, it would have been fair and just for God to eradicate the world and everything in it. However, the judge chose to execute his punishment in a different manner.
Scene 7 – The Cross (2 Corinthians 5:21, John 19:16 – 20:10, Romans 5:12-21) Because of his goodness, God chose to get mankind out of its mess by becoming a man in Jesus. Adam came into this world with a right standing relationship with God. Jesus became the new Adam as he came into the world through a virgin birth. Through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus did not pass through the bloodline of Adam, so he was not born into sin. Jesus lived a perfect life which made him an acceptable sacrifice for Adam who was also perfect prior to the fall. At the cross, God took out the full brunt of his wrath for sin past, present and future. Jesus paid it all. The cross is a place where God’s eternal judgement was poured out on one man and all those who trust in Jesus are declared innocent on his behalf. However, God the gracious judge does not just stop in declaring us innocent, through resting in Jesus he also gives us the great gift of an eternal relationship with Him. His followers seek to act as agents of reconciliation who seek to reconcile humanity and the world back to God. (2 Cor. 5:11-21)
Scene 8 – The Wedding (Revelation 21) As Christians, we await our final hope in Jesus’ restoration of all things. We see that one day the holy city, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2) will come down from heaven and it will be adorned as a bride is for her husband. In that, God will be with his people and He will eradicate death and pain. So in this final picture we see the eternal judge doing away with any remnant of injustice and turmoil cause by man’s original rebellion against Him.
Closing argument –
The case for biblical justice begins and ends with God whose very nature is just. God creates the world and everything in it. The crowning jewel of his creation is mankind. Man and woman are made in the image of God and each one has the same value, dignity and worth regardless of cultural background. Through Adam’s rebellion, God’s intended design for mankind and the world became distorted. God in his grace decided to go past the expectation of a judge and become a man in Jesus in order to pay for the sin of man’s rebellion. At the cross, Jesus substituted his perfection for our imperfection. As a result, we are now given a right standing relationship with God through trusting in his work alone. As Christ followers, we are given the task of producing followers of Jesus. This holistic Christ followership expands to loving God with everything, seeking the welfare of the city, doing justice and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We seek to pursue this mission through the church until Jesus comes back in the final consummation to completely remove the brokenness caused by sin.
God is a just judge who must punish the guilty, yet he provides us an advocate in the person and work of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we seek to replicate God’s justice system by also serving as advocates for our protégés and families. Our prayer is that, through a posture that displays grace and truth, we confront personal and corporate injustice and engage in the long-term work that is needed for restoration.
Zach Middleton, Relationship Coordinator