At Gateway Church in Austin, we began a new series leading up to Christmas. The God You Need will look at key passages from the prophet Isaiah. John Burke shared on The God Who Is Just.
Watch or listen to his message at www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.
Apply the message to your life using Gateway’s Next Steps.
Here are some of the thoughts he shared:
Is God Just?
I’ve heard this accusation: If God existed then there would not be so much injustice that goes unchecked.
Since God doesn’t deal with injustice as we would, some conclude there is no God. Yet we also get angry at the thought of God wiping out humanity for non-stop injustice and evil.
Is injustice proof there is no God?
Consider this: what do you see? GODISNOWHERE.
- Some see 3 words run together saying “God is nowhere.”
- Some see 4 words run together saying, “God is Now Here.”
What we’re looking for often determines what we find. Maybe people who say there is No God because there’s so much injustice—maybe they’re only seeing from a limited perspective. Where is God’s justice? It’s a legitimate question that we’ve all asked when we’ve felt wronged. Have you ever felt wronged? Sometimes it does get confusing.
Maybe you’ve had things taken that were rightfully yours, maybe accounts, clients, maybe homes or children, maybe your innocence—and it looks like justice will never be done. People seem to get away with hurting and wronging others and even seem to get rewarded for it. Where is God in all of that?
Yet God declares through the Prophet Isaiah:
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” – Isaiah 42:1-4
God promises through Isaiah that he will bring justice. It will happen.
He also says “A Bruised Reed, he will not break.” A bruised reed has been damaged, bent and broken, something or someone trampled on it.
Have you ever felt like a bruised reed? You were once standing tall, then life came at you fast. God says, “The injustices of this world (even one’s you’ve done) they may have bruised you, bent you, but I won’t let you be broken off completely.” A bruised person God won’t let break when we come to him.
God’s promise to you is this: He sees, and He cares.
God will bring justice to the nations. But how? And when? How can God be just and make things right when it feels so wrong right now?
What’s so amazing about Isaiah is he foretells so clearly God’s Messiah to come. 700 years before Jesus, Isaiah says the Unseen God, the Power of the Universe, will reveal Himself in a form we can relate to—as a Man.
God said this through Isaiah:
“Tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods…who has announced this from antiquity? Who has told it from then? Is it not I YHWH? And there is no other God beside me; a righteous God and a Savior; there is none beside me. Turn to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth. – Isaiah 41:23, 45:21-22
Isaiah says that the way you’ll know it’s God is because only God can say what the future holds. That is exactly what He did through Isaiah.
God created you for a relationship with Himself. God is Love, so God wants you to know His love and choose to Love Him. Saved means “Set right” with God relationally. If we don’t want to love and follow God, we can find lots of reasons to ignore Him (God is nowhere). If we truly seek God, really want to see—there’s tons of evidence (God is now here).
In Isaiah, God tells us how to recognize this Messiah in advance:
- The Messiah will…Be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
- Live in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2)
- Be born a son, line of King David, yet called by God’s names (Isaiah 9:5-7)
- Heal the blind, deaf, and lame (Isaiah 35:4-6)
- A Messenger in the wilderness will Announce God’s arrival – John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:1-9).
The Messiah will do the following:
- Bring salvation to all the earth (Isaiah 49:6).
- Be beaten, mocked, spit on (Isaiah 50:6)
- Disfigured beyond human recognition (Isaiah 52:13-14)
- Be pierced and die to pay for our wrongs (Isaiah 53:4-5)
- Then see the light of life [resurrection] after suffering (Isaiah 53:11)
- Justify many children for God (Isaiah 53:10-12).
All this and more Jesus fulfilled.
God cared enough about our sufferings from injustice, He entered into it with us. He has felt all that you’ve felt and more. When you feel like that Bruised, Bent Reed…that smoldering wick—He’s been there. He cares, he has empathy…and he won’t let it take you out. Turn to him.
God will set it all straight. He will make it right when we follow Him. The story’s not over yet—How do we know this? He told us in advance. He fulfilled what He said He would of Messiah in Jesus, so He will also bring Justice one day.
All these things Isaiah foretold about Jesus, proof positive were written at least 100 to 300 years before Jesus was born—no doubts about that. And God claimed that His Servant Messiah would bring Justice:
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” – Isaiah 42:1
Yet here we are, 2000 years after Jesus came and the earth still cries out for justice.
Why doesn’t God just wipe out all injustice at the root? If he did, He would have to wipe out all who do wrong—that’s all of us!
Paul tells us why:
“Don’t you realize how patient God is being with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see that he has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin [wrongdoing]? His kindness is meant to lead you back to him.” – Romans 2:4
God has given us all the ability to choose. To choose to love him or to choose to turn away from Him – to say “God I don’t need you and I don’t want you in my life – I’ll play God of my own life, thank you.” Instead of giving spiritual rebels instant justice, God gives us kindness and time to turn and come back to God. He gives us time so we might let Him change us and so that we don’t just take all the injustices and hurts inflicted on us, and inadvertently do the same to others. He gives us time to let Him teach us to love with His love – to love even our enemies. Love triumphs over injustice and reverses it’s effects. God’s patience bridges the gap between God’s love for all people and God’s desire for justice.
No single act of history demonstrated the patience of God greater than the crucifixion of Jesus. When God sent his Son to earth to give people what we asked for: Show yourself God, let us see you with our eyes! He foretold it, and he sent Jesus – the human image of the invisible God – as much of God as our humanity could comprehend. Everywhere Jesus went he demonstrated the love and patience and goodness of God, and yet in the greatest act of human injustice and rebellion possible, we humans chose to nail him to a cross. Imagine the patience of the Father and the Son on that day when Justice should have rolled out of heaven wiped out every person. Instead out of the mouth of Jesus came the greatest words of love and kindness ever spoken:
“Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Isaiah foretold this:
After [Messiah] has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many…because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. – Isaiah 53:11-12, 680 B.C.E.
Jesus the Messiah (Christ means Messiah), would pay the price of Justice (God’s justice), so even the greatest rebel could be justified (forgiven and made right with God) if we just turn back to Him in love.
God IS just. When we demand that he make people pay for the wrongs they’ve done to us, He Has and He will. He has paid. He Himself paid the greatest price a human can pay for Justice, so that we don’t have to do so. Any willing human can turn back home to God, and God wants to enter into life to guide us with his love—then we can overcome life’s injustices.
We experience the Now but Not Yet Kingdom Isaiah foretold.
All who turn back to God can experience His Kingdom coming into our lives, with love, joy, peace that helps us bring that to this world, but we don’t fully experience all God said Messiah will ultimately do. When people say: “Since I don’t see Justice done, God must not exist.” That’s like reading the first 3 chapters of a novel and saying it’s horrible because the plot never resolves because you didn’t read the whole story:
“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness… I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. I am the Lord; that is my name!” – Isaiah 42:6-8
A day is coming when he will make it all right. God’s promise—so take hope. True Life—the one free of all injustice, is right around the corner.
This life isn’t the end of the story, it’s just the introduction. So take heart, He has overcome.