Justice in Messianic Prophecy

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him;  he will bring forth justice to the nations.

I have written much over the last two years on the subject of justice in Scripture. I don’t think I have done the subject justice (pun intended), so I continue to find the rights words, the right perspective and seek better understanding of God’s heart for justice as it is revealed in Scripture.

John the Apostle tells us that God is love, and the Psalmist says that justice and righteousness are the foundations of His throne. Certainly God’s love, justice and righteousness are closely intertwined.

When Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll in the temple and said it was fulfilled by him in the presence of the people who heard him, the passage he read was full of images of justice (Luke 4:18-19 (reading from Isaiah 58:6; 61:1-2)):

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The reading from the Isaiah scroll is a theme to which I return often

We could read this passage to mean that Jesus came to preach to those who are poor (in spirit), to proclaim liberty to the captives (in spirit), recovering of sight to the (spiritually) blind and to set at liberty those who are oppressed (spiritually). I don’t think that is an inaccurate way of interpreting what Jesus said. Jesus often used figurative language for spiritual realities and principals.

It isn’t the only way to read those words, of course. Indeed, throughout the rest of his life, Jesus healed people, gave sight to the blind, opened the ears of the deaf, set free those who were oppressed, raised people from the dead and met the physical needs of people as he traveled around preaching the good news.

Thus, I believe Jesus meant those words to have dual meanings. He was concerned about the spiritual condition of people. We might even say he was primarily concerned with spiritual well-being, but he met people at the point of their physical circumstances and conditions.

Listen to the testimonies of people, and you will find the spiritual and the physical are intertwined. Jesus still meets people at the point of their circumstances and physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

The physical needs and difficult circumstances (perhaps) a metaphor for the more critical and ultimately more important spiritual infirmity, but they are a reality that elevates and underscores the need for more holistic resolution. Without the difficulties in our lives, we might never perceive the need for that resolution

Many are the people who only want the physical healing and not spiritual healing. At the same time, the physical infirmities of a person can be so overwhelming and demanding that a person can hardly recognize the spiritual need.

Regardless of the interrelationship, Jesus addressed both the physical needs and spiritual needs of people. Justice and righteousness are God’s foundation. They are front in center in the Messianic message that foretold the coming of Jesus:

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him;  he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.”

Isaiah 42:1‭-‬4 ESV

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham was a promise to all the nations (Gen. 12:2-3):

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

Embedded in Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy was this promise to Abraham: “he will bring forth justice to the nations…. he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law”.

As followers of Jesus, we must be part of that Messianic purpose of God.

Carried Off to Babylon

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.

Panorama of partially restored Babylon ruins and Former Saddam Hussein Palace, Babylon, Hillah, Iraq

“Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 39:6 ESV)

This is a follow up blog piece to Here Today Gone Tomorrow. The story of King Hezekiah, and Isaiah Chapter 39, is, illustrative of our tendency to hold on to things in this world and in this life contrary to what God intends for us. Jesus speaks to God’s intention when he urges us to lay up our treasures in heaven, and not to focus on accumulating treasures on earth.

Hezekiah was a pretty good king as kings of Judah go. Many of those kings turned away from God to idol worship and other behaviors influenced by the pagan culture of the nations around them. These were the people who were never completely driven out of the Promised Land as God instructed. The people and their kings became corrupted by those influences and succumbed to them.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob split into two camps early on after the people rejected the rule of judges and wanted kings like the nations around them.  They split into the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah.

By the time King Hezekiah came around, the nation of Israel had been overrun, captured, and exiled to Babylon. During Hezekiah’s reign the people were hanging on by a thread, with the threat of Babylonian exile dangling like the sword of Damocles over the remnant, Judah, that remained in Jerusalem.

In Hezekiah’s fourteenth year as king, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them, but for Jerusalem. King Hezekiah responded to this threat by turning to God. He prayed, and, as the story goes, 185,000 troops of the Assyrian king died in the camp overnight, sparing the City of Jerusalem from certain doom. (Isaiah 37)

Hezekiah turned to God when circumstances were dire and his death was imminent. Like most of us, though, the King was short-sighted. He focused on the immediate, protecting himself for the remainder of his short life.

Continue reading “Carried Off to Babylon”

When Your King is a Child

Was the election of Donald Trump a blessing from God? Or a curse?


“And I will make boys their princes, and infants [caprice] shall rule over them.” (Isaiah 3:4)

The 2nd chapter of Isaiah starts out with a futuristic vision. Isaiah 2 provides a picture of God and his law and order being exalted above all other things. In this vision, God settles disputes, people beat their swords into plow shares, and everyone learns from God and worships God in harmony. Nations cease to war against nations. (Is. 2:3-4)  It sounds like an utopian dream.

When I was young in the 1960’s, I remember “flower children” protesting the Vietnam war and urging the world to live in peace. They were advocating for a similar dream. It seemed so pure and simple. All we need is love.

Except, the 1960’s was also a tumultuous and chaotic time.  Drugs, violence, and free sex were the order of the day. Young people were challenging and throwing off moral and religious convictions. Unlike the Isaiah’s vision, the 1960’s dream was a secular one.

I have seen the consequences of that societal upheaval throughout my life. Drugs have taken their toll in lives lost and wasted. The opiate and heroin epidemic of our current times is partially a product of opening Pandora’s pillbox in the 1960’s.

Violence is as much or more a part of our world today than it was in the 1960’s. We don’t live in peace with each other. Wars continue to rage. Neighbors continue to fight with neighbors. More Americans are killed in the City of Chicago each year, alone, than in foreign wars.

Of course, Chicago is only a drop in the bucket. Multiply all the other crime-ridden cities in the US, and number is astronomically higher. Killings in the US don’t even begin to compare to what is happening in other parts of the world.

Free sex has also taken its toll as well. More children live in single family households today than ever before. The scourge of AIDs has taken God knows how many lives in the US and around the world. Pornography threatens to undo the fabric of our society, warping the minds and hearts of children at young ages, objectifying women and sex and feeding a ruthless and insatiable underworld industry that preys on vulnerable people in our communities.

After describing the utopian vision in chapter 2, Isaiah comes back to reality. Jerusalem and greater Judah in Isaiah’s day were far from the utopian ideal he envisioned. Isaiah’s description of the people in his time could be aptly applied to the people today:

“Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots.

“Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.”

We live in a land “filled with silver and gold”. We have plenty in the US like never before. Even the poor among us have computers in their hands and Nikes on their feet. We have leisure time, and things, and pleasure, and comfort like no civilization has ever experienced. The things we own, the pleasures we seek, the wealth that we covet, the entertainment and diversions that fill our time have become gods to us that dominate our attention, our energies and our hearts.

At the same time, suicide rates have risen precipitously over the last 20 years, and school shootings that were unheard of before 1966 have become routine. Wars rage around the world, and violence rages in our city streets.

Continue reading “When Your King is a Child”

Hearing the Voice of God for Today

Our focus should be on God, and our direction should be inspired by scripture with the help of the Holy Spirit to discern God’s heart, intention and direction for us in these modern times.


I recall a sermon preached back in the 1980’s in the church I attended at the time in New Hampshire. I don’t remember the scriptural passage or references, but I remember the gist of the message, and it has stuck with me ever since.

The gist goes something like this: As God’s people, we need to be informed and take our direction primarily from God and God’s will as revealed to us in the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are in the world, but we are not of the world, and we should be careful not to be influenced by the world in our thinking.

The key point that I remember, however, is that we can focus so much on trying not to be influenced by the world that we become reactionary to it. If the world goes right, we go left. If the world goes left, we go right. If all we are doing is being reactionary to the world, we lose our focus on God. In the process of trying not to be like the world, we allow ourselves to be defined by the world nevertheless.

If our direction is dictated by nothing more than going in the opposite direction of the world, we are no more directed by God than if we are going in exactly the same direction as the world. Either way, we are focusing on the world and allowing the world to influence our direction, rather than God.

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Archaeology Continues to Confirm Bible Stories

While many people remain skeptical of the Bible, modern archaeological discoveries favor the historicity of the biblical record.

Depositphotos Photography ID: 25083325 Copyright: lucidwaters QUMRAN, ISR – DEC 14

I recently listened to an interview of Dr. Craig Evans, who wrote the book, Jesus and the Remains of His Day: Studies in Jesus and the Evidence of Material Culture. The book is described as a collection of articles demonstrating how archaeological evidence “enlightens our understanding of the life and death of Jesus and the culture in which he lived”. The interview focused on archaeology, generally, and especially on the way archaeology sheds light on the New Testament.

In this piece, I am following up on the more general discussion. When asked if he was aware of any finds that have failed to support the biblical record, Dr. Evans could not think of any. Rather, he commented that archaeological evidence is found every year that confirms the biblical record. Of particular note are the people mentioned in the Bible that archaeology has affirmed.

Continue reading “Archaeology Continues to Confirm Bible Stories”