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The justice of God
Jeremiah 12

Scripture reading: Psalm 73

A couple of week ago we began to study the Book of Jeremiah together. In our first week together we considered the amazing call of Jeremiah into God's service as a prophet. Last week we pondered some of the deceptive words/the lies of our culture that we must be on guard against.

Today I want to talk to you about the justice of God.

In Psalm 89:14a it says of God; "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;"

Justice is really important to God. He is the author of justice and morality. He is the determiner of right and wrong and the judge of it.

Justice is also a subject that is near and dear to the heart of every person

We want justice done. We want people who need to be corrected- corrected. We people who need to be rebuked- rebuked. We want people who have done wrong, to be punished. We want people who need to loose privileges for what they have said and done- to lose the appropriate privileges.

We want justice to be impartial and consistently applied. We want justice that is in perfect accord with the facts and truth.

We want our legal system and courts to be just. We want criminals to be punished, the innocent acquitted, the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill, our wounded soldiers and the needy cared for.

We all want justice and we want it done in a speedy manner-- such is the expectation of most every heart.

4 types of justice

1. Distributive justice: Which is concerned with giving all members of society a 'fair share' of the resources available
2. Procedural justice: The goal of which is to ensure that people are treated 'fairly'
3. Retributive justice: Having to do with the punishment of wrong doers. It entails one receiving their "just desserts"
4. Restorative justice: Concerned with healing the wounds of the victims and restoring offenders to law abiding lives

Some problems as it relates to justice

Our sense of right and wrong and what justice is skewed and disabled because of our sinfulness and corruption

Every human and earthly dispenser of justice - because of their sinfulness- is flawed and prone to miscarriages of justice.

Justice is usually something we want done for us- it's not necessarily something that we want personally applied to us-- particularly as it relates to our rebellion against God.


Justice and Jeremiah 12-- READ TEXT

Before reading note that in the preceding verses God let Jeremiah in on a little secret: The men of Anathoth- because of Jeremiah's preaching in the name of LORD- had been planning on assassinating Jeremiah. God tells Jeremiah about their plans and declares that in his perfect time, for their wickedness, that the entire town of conspirators were going to be wiped out.

With the aforementioned context in mind, let us read Jeremiah 12

A DEEPER LOOK AT THE TEXT

I. JEREMIAH HAS A BIG QUESTION AS IT REGARDS GOD AND THE SUBJECT OF JUSTICE: WHY DO WICKED PEOPLE PROSPER? v.1-4

SOMETHING TO NOTE: WHILE JEREMIAH HAS A BIG QUESTION OF GOD -THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE ASK-- HE ALSO MAKES A REALLY IMPORTANT AFFIRMATION ABOUT GOD

The affirmation that Jeremiah makes that we must regularly make

You always do right. You always do what is good. You never fail. You never make a mistake. You are perfect in every way. You deal with every situation in the absolute best way.


JEREMIAH'S BIG QUESTION: WHY DO WICKED PEOPLE PROSPER? V.1-4

The question Jeremiah asks is this: Why do wicked people prosper?

Why do you let people who have no regard for you or your ways live at ease?

Why do you allow your blessings to fall upon such people?

This reminds me of James 1:17 which says; "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." The point: These gifts of God should move people into the worship and adoration of God

Why do you let people boldly say: "God doesn't see what is happening! I won't be held to account! You won't be held to account either!"

Why do you let such wicked people live?

Why do you allow the ground and the birds and animals to suffer for the sake of such wicked people?

The question that Jeremiah asks about God's justice is not new

Psalm 73 is an entire Psalm that deals with wicked people prospering and the envy that sometimes the righteous have of those people. As Psalm 73 illustrates, it sometimes seems that wicked people who have no regard for God live amazing lives. Yet the key to Psalm 73 and the whole issue of God's justice is found in Psalm 73:16-17 "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny."


II. GOD ANSWERS JEREMIAH ABOUT JUSTICE BEING DONE v.5-17

While God is not bound to directly answer us, He gave Jeremiah a direct and personal message as it regarded his question. This exchange reminds of the book of Habakkuk.

In Habakkuk 1:2-3 Habakkuk cries out: "How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?". In the verses that follow, God answers Habakkuk and tells him what He is about to in response to the wickedness of His people. The answer is much the same as the answer that God gives Jeremiah.

Some things to note as it regards God's answer to Jeremiah's question

NOTE: In view in v.5-13 is retributive justice

1. Your ability to understand all the aspects of how MY justice works itself out is beyond you. v.5

What God says reminds me of Isaiah 55:8-9 wherein God says; ""For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

2. Justice will be done

a. With your own family who has betrayed you
b. As it regards my inheritance, my chosen ones, my people, the one I love v.7-9

Interesting: God loves them, He hates them. How can this be?

I think that you and somehow intuitively understand this. Judah held a special spot in God's heart. The Jews were and are His chosen people and yet because of their persistent rebellion and wickedness the people of Judah became the objects of His wrath, anger, and hatred. This is a tension that we must accept.

3. Justice will come by my use of another nation v.10

Control of nations and kings is in God's hands. In this instance God -by prophetic word- raised up Babylon to chasten and punish His people

Point: God has a lot of tools at His disposal as it regards the accomplishment of justice and His holy will

4. When it comes to justice, God doesn't show favourtism

Despite their special status, they were punished.


III. THERE IS A RESTORATIVE ASPECT TO THE JUSTICE OF GOD v.14-17

Note the words of hope and promise in v.14-17

Point: God is just. His wrath is and will be expressed. God is also merciful and compassionate. He wants people to be saved.

A huge thing to note********

The restorative aspect of the justice of God leads us straight to Jesus and the cross

-on the cross Jesus took upon himself the wrath of God for our sins and the sins of the whole world
-the message of the cross is that Jesus is the perfect once for all sacrifice for sin
-the shed blood of Christ is more than sufficient for the forgiveness of our sins
-In taking upon himself the punishment we deserve there remains for us an amazing opportunity- that of being reconciled to God/restored to God and reckoned as pure in His sight
-One is reconciled to God by faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. One is reconciled to God by His grace alone- such is the gift of God. One is reconciled by faith alone
-One receives the gift of restoration and peace with God by following the instructions of 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and cleanse/purify us of all our unrighteousness"

CONCLUSION

God is a God of justice

No sin, no act of rebellion, no wrong done is ever overlooked by God.

A day of accounting for all people is coming. "It is appointed once to man to die and then to face the judgment" Hebrews 9:27

When wronged by others we must not take affairs into our own hands. God is just. He will punish evil doers. Our responsibility is to wait for his timing.

Romans 12:17-21 says; Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

It is for mercies sake that God's justice has not yet been executed upon this world.

2 Peter 3:9 which says; "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

God is concerned about justice in all of its expressions and forms

The restorative aspect of God's justice leads us straight to Jesus and the cross

If you are not yet a follower of God- on His terms as outlined in the Scriptures- despite your present condition of being an object of His wrath, there is hope for you in the person of Christ. Come to Jesus in faith and repentance. Be reconciled to God while you can. And as the Scriptures say "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1