At Home Bible Study from your Board of Christian Education – 6/17/20
Lesson 5: The Christian Virtue of Justice
Jane went to a small urban courtroom to watch her cousin, a prosecutor, at work. The hearing involved a man who had been convicted of manslaughter (killing someone without premeditation) ten years before. As part of the sentence, he had been ordered to pay restitution of $100,000 to the estate. Monthly payments were set at an amount the defendant could reasonably afford, given his income and expenses. Now, Jane’s cousin said, the ten-year repayment period was completed. The law said that his debt could be forgiven. Yet he hadn’t fulfilled his obligation because he hadn’t paid off the full $100,000.
Although we don’t know who was killed or who was left behind, we can assume the family of the deceased person had suffered both emotionally and financially. We know that the defendant was twenty years old at the time he committed the crime. In addition to serving time, he made the payments that were set for him over all those ten years. Questions: Did the family receive justice for this ruling? Was the sentence justice for the defendant and the crime he committed?
Justice can be a fuzzy issue for us- as it was for Israel. Time and again the prophets reminded the people that an inner attitude of righteousness is not enough. It must show in our lives; we must also be people of just action.
Webster’s definition of justice: being just, right or fair, equitable, impartial, righteous, upright, fitting.
Reading: Isaiah 61 and others (the purpose of this lesson is to learn about how the Lord regards justice and how we can be people who practice justice).
Questions/thoughts to consider:
- What do you think justice means for each of the parties in the opening story? Who in our community needs justice? What does it mean to be people of just action?
- What does the Lord have to say about our society? Read Isaiah 1:1-4
- Read Micah 3, why did Israel need justice?
- Read Isaiah 61. In vv1-3 the prophet describes his call to serve. What groups are listed, and in what way do they need justice? There are many similar passages in the Bible in which the prophets call the people to justice and describe how God blesses “just” actions.
- The poor-Isaiah 11:4, 29:19 The broken-hearted-Isaiah 30:26 c. The captives & prisoners-Isaiah 42:5-7, Isaiah 49:8 (the year of Jubilee when debts were forgiven, slaves released, land returned to the original owner) d. Those who mourn & grieve & despair-Isaiah 49:13, 57:18-19
- What common elements do you see among these groups of people?
- What current situations do you know of in society today that fit these categories of need?
- How would meeting these needs for others be a sign of God’s work in you (v3)? Read Luke 4:17-19, who are the priests and pastors who can share the “good news” with others?
- Because Israel sinned and turned away from God, God allowed them to be conquered. How might verses 4-9 be a source of joy to them?
- Notice the contrast in verse 8 between what the Lord loves and hates. What do this verse and verses 1-3 tell you about God’s concerns? Also read Deut. 10:17-19, Psalm 10:12, 17-18
- In verses 10-11 the ruler describes God’s work in him. What is God doing for him? What is the relationship between right actions (justice-vv1-3) and being a righteous person, vv10-11?
- How does Jesus fulfill the promise He makes in v11? Also read Isaiah 45:8. God gave us the word and all the promises in it to help us build faith and a commitment to serve and do the ministry he wants us to accomplish.
- What keeps you from pursuing justice?
- How can this passage be an encouragement to you?
- What actions can you take to bring justice to those in need?
Lord God, we see so much injustice around us and around the world. All of us know someone or some situation that needs to be corrected. We know that this is not what you intended for us as your people. Please help us to be in your word and get to know you better, so that love will grow in our hearts and we will recognize the needs of others and be about the work you intend for us to be doing as Christians. Teach us Lord how you view justice and help us to carry it out in your holy name. Ame