Day 13: “No Justice, No Peace”
“No justice, no peace.” Is this a biblical statement? Is it more than just a cry from the streets by the oppressed?
“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” – Isaiah 32:17
If there is no justice, there cannot be Shalom. In the context of this text, the Hebrew word translated “righteousness” means “executed justice.” To the extent justice is rightly executed, the effect is always Shalom: nothing-broken-nothing-missing peace. Human thinking, motives, and behavior must be transformed in order for Shalom to manifest itself on earth as it is in heaven. But how does that happen? When we look at the state of humanity, we can easily lose heart. We agree with what the prophet Isaiah says about the human condition:
“They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace. So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.” (Isaiah 59:8–9)
The Bible’s solution to the injustice humanity continually displays, is a righteous King who will lead us on a straight path and fully execute justice for the oppressed, bringing eternal Shalom to planet earth. The Bible is always talking about this King, and Isaiah 32 begins with: “A righteous King is coming” and He and His leaders will be like “streams of water in the desert” (Isaiah 32:1-2).
In the Gospels, we see this King introduced to the world as Jesus, the humble carpenter from the hood of Israel known as Nazareth. He isn’t flashy or what one would expect from a King who would fulfill these prophecies and execute justice and bring Shalom. He spoke of forgiveness and non-violence in response to the oppression and injustice of His day and claimed to be the God of the universe Himself manifesting His presence on earth. He showed God’s power by healing sick people, feeding the hungry and oppressed masses, and raising the dead back to life. He didn’t run after earthly power, prosperity or pleasure, but lived fully in obedience to the Father. As the Jerusalem masses joyfully shouted, Jesus humbly rode into their city on a donkey, fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy of a righteous King bringing salvation to God’s people (Zechariah 9:9). But He didn’t go to the capital city to take a throne for Himself; He came instead to take up a cross. He came to bear the cosmic justice of God for all human sin and rebellion and make peace with His blood between heaven and earth once and for all (Colossians 1:19-20; Romans 5:10).
Our righteous King has dealt with the cosmic justice of God on our behalf, and we have been given His righteousness and the perfect peace with God that can never be taken away. That’s the reality in heaven, and as the Spirit of God empowers us to trust and quietly rest in this finished work of Jesus, we cannot help but have our standards, motives, and behaviors transformed more and more to look like our King’s. We, as His beloved blood-bought people, will start acting justly in our day-to-day lives, and advocate for justice on earth through forgiveness and non-violence, just like Jesus… and the effect WILL be Shalom.
1. Thank God for His righteousness. Thank Jesus for satisfying divine justice once and for all on the cross where “mercy and justice kissed” and all our sin was separated from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Sit quietly for five minutes in this reality, letting it sink in. Rest in Jesus, not thinking about anything except the goodness of the Lord and His faithfulness.
2. Pray for all the pastors and leaders you know in your community and city. Ask God to protect them and give them rest in the midst of all the ministry and burdens they bear. Ask God to give them the courage to stand up to the injustices of society and boldly speak “truth to power,” advocating for the oppressed in Jesus’ name.
3. Pray for righteous justice in your community for the oppressed and hurting. Who do you know who has experienced injustice? Think about how you can advocate to see justice executed and Shalom break forth in your community. Decide on ways you will engage in the battle of justice for the weak and oppressed. Write your decisions out in faith, believing that God will give you the courage and strength to humbly and mercifully LIVE justly (Micah 6:8). Now go do it!