I did a word study in the ESV on "justice" today. (Here it is if you're interested.) I went in just curious to see how the theme of justice is developed throughout Scripture, not looking for any one thing in particular. What I found really caught my attention: "justice" and "righteousness" are the dynamic duo of Godliness. They appear together over and over again, and what rapidly emerged (at least to me) is this:
1. Justice and righteousness can never be separated or defined apart from God: The essence of justice is deciding who is righteous and who is not, and the essence of righteousness is doing what God says is just.
2. Justice and righteousness are something God is and does.
3. Justice and righteousness are what God wants us to be and do.
4. We cannot be or do these things, which is why Christ Jesus came.
5. In his death, Jesus atoned for our (and more historically speaking, Israel's) complicity in failing to live justly and righteously by fulfilling all righteousness and satisfying God's justice.
6. After his resurrection, Jesus "re-set" the original and only mission of God: to make disciples alive to justice and righteousness among all people as the outworking of love.
7. Upon his return, Jesus will judge the world in righteousness, inaugurating the final age where the foundations of God's throne are the foundations of a redeemed humanity.
8. Until that day, Christians are to be alive to righteousness and justice, here and now. The foundations of God's throne are the treasures of the gospel: possessed and practiced by faith.
Here are the verses. Read them and share what catches your attention in the comments below.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne...
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne."
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (An instance where 'righteousness' is present indirectly.)
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
GOD'S PURPOSES FOR US
Gen 18:19-20 (Abraham's call is summed up in these two themes.)
For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.
Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him.
ISRAEL'S CHRONIC FAILURE IS OURS, ALSO
How the faithful city has become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.
Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness.
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!
Jeremiah 5:28 (Of Israel's rulers.)
they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
GOD'S PLAN FOR A RULER WHO WOULD NOT FAIL
Isaiah 9:7 (Predicted prophetically by Isaiah.)
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
Jeremiah 23:5 (Predicted prophetically by Jeremiah.)
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.
JESUS CHRIST'S WORK
Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles."
Romas 3:23-26 (The essence of justice is deciding who is righteous, and who is not. Paul connects the dots of the gospel here.)
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Acts 17:31 (Paul, speaking of Jesus, to people in Athens, Greece.)
... because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.