I have been doing a lot of thinking since my recent trip to Colombia. Going out of the country for two weeks will do that to you. The question being asked of me by my school program during the last two weeks has been “what is Justice?” The most basic of answers to this question would seem to be everyone getting what they have earned. However, the real answer has to be more complex than this to allow for things like salvation. So I have been thinking about Justice, and since I love a good hot-button issue, I was thinking about Justice in the Middle East.
Now, at the end of the day, Justice is about everything being “right” with the world. To be sure, that doesn’t mean that we have achieved some humanistic Nirvana where there is no more disparity, but rather that everything lines up with the will of God. However, we also know that everything God does (yea, IS) is Just. What that means to me is that everything that God has orchestrated in our world is the way that it is supposed to be based on our condition. So how does this relate to the Middle East?
Lets take a look at the Palestinians. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are being oppressed by the state of Israel. The blockading of Gaza, the political isolation of the PLO in the West Bank, and the lack of political sovereignty would seem to be the lot won by the Palestinians. Why? The answer is very simple. The Palestinians have refused to submit to Israel as the legal authority of all the land that would be called “Palestine”. Make no mistake about it, Israel is the legal authority of that land (thanks to the British Mandate of Palestine breaking up in 1948, the Suez Canal incident in the 50’s, and the six day war in ’67) and the Palestinians have suffered due to their chronic rebellion ever since.
Now, lest we be called “biased”, let us turn to Israel’s domestic issues. Israelis are having to life under the constant threat of suicide bombers from the West Bank, rockets from the Gaza Strip, and countless numbers of terrorists being sneaked accross the Israeli/Palestinian borders from other countries. Why? Because Israel, as a nation, has refused to care for the foreigner within their borders by their constant oppressing of the Palestinians (as talked about in the last paragraph).
To get the full picture, we now look at Israel’s international difficulty. Israel is having to constantly justify not only its actions, but its very existence as well. Israel is oppressed by ever nation on earth (most notably through the UN) for almost no discernable reason. This unnatural hatred (ie, all of Israel’s neighbors threatening to blow her back to God) has to be for a reason. The reason? Israel has refused to submit to God. By forsaking the covenant of God, God’s blessing of favor has forsaken Israel.
So after all of this, what do we see? The Palestinians are receiving their rewards for their seeds of Rebellion (even Egypt, Jordan and Syria won’t take them in willingly), Israel is receiving its reward for neglecting the stranger, and Israel is also being rewarded for neglecting the covenants. Everyone involved is receiving the earned results of their actions. That’s justice, right? The guilty are punished… “kharma” is repaid… you have sown and you have reaped. But we know that the situation is not what God has desired for the people’s of the earth, and that is injustice. To say it another way, everything right now is Justly Unjust.
So what is “Justice” in this situation? From the Biblical Covenants we can safely say that Justice for Israel is for them to be restored to their place as the leader among the nations of the earth and to be at peace with both God and their neighbors. But what about the Palestinians? We know that part of the role of humanity is to “lead a quiet and peaceable life” (1Tim 2:2,3) and we also know that God, as a provider, desires that the needs of men be met. However, social services (electricity, running water, international trade) is not sufficient to meet men’s needs. Electric power, for all of its wonder and power, cannot save a man from Hell. At the end of the day, the majority of the Palestinian population is Muslim and therefor hell-bound. This then leads us to ask how Justice can be established?
The answer in both cases is Jesus. It is only by Israel’s submission to God that she will be elevated again–never to be unseated again. That submission can only happen by the reception of Israel’s Messiah: Jesus. The Palestinians will only be saved from Hell and find the strength to submit to their hated rival by submission to Jesus. This is the essence of what Paul meant when he said that in Christ there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free (in Christ).” All have truly fallen short of the Glory of God, and the true mark of equality shared by all men is that they are in need of a Messiah and that Messiah’s name is Jesus. We all argue about equality and justice, when we don’t even notice that already have it… all are sinners, all are in need of forgiveness, all are only saved through the Cross of Christ, and all are offered a place in the Eternal City. That is real equality, and the vindication of all suffering through the Cross and Eternal City is real Justice. How pitiful does the “justice” of an HDTV in every home look in comparison to the exaltation of those who have suffered well for Christ on the last day?
So… now you have a little window into how my head was working for the last two weeks.