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Summary: Christians should show mercy to those unjustly oppressed.

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GOD AND JUSTICE

Texts: Amos 6, 8; Zephaniah 3

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"Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice."__ H.L. Mencken, Prejudices

We should act with justice in everything. Justice can be considered right behavior.

Ethics involve or express moral approval or disapproval consistent with God’s Word

and His holy nature. Two of the minor prophets Amos & Zephaniah show that justice

is one of the great themes of the O.T. Some other themes are God, man, sin,

righteousness, grace, covenant, law, atonement, the Messiah. Consider Micah 6:8,

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee,

but to do justly ( Strong’s # H4941- right, proper, and fitting), and to love mercy, and to

walk humbly (Strong’s # H6800 - to be humble, be modest, be lowly) with thy God?"

Amos 5:24, "But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty

stream.

Christians should show mercy to those unjustly oppressed. Amos chapter six indicates

that God hates arrogance. Arrogance is that stinking attitude of superiority toward others.

Many in the days of Amos demonstrated an air of exaggerated self-importance. They would

make overbearing demands on others. Presumptuous (Going beyond what is right or proper)

actions toward others were often the norm. The arrogant believed they deserved every

pleasure, they should satisfy every desire

Amos warned (6:7) that the affluent ruling class would be the first to go into captivity.

Amos’s prophecies came true. The writer of the book of Proverbs expands our picture

of God’s displeasure with overbearing aristocrats--Proverbs 16:18, "Pride (Strong’s

# H1347, arrogance) goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit ( Strong’s #H7307,

arrogant desire/an impatient vain emptiness) before a fall (Strong’s #H3783, a stumbling,

a fall, a calamity)."

Now we find that God hates injustice (Amos 8:4-12). Justice, Biblically speaking,

is that which is moral (right behavior) and ethically (involving or expressing moral approval or

disapproval) right, consistent with God’s Word and holy nature.

Injustice is defined as a violation of the rights of others. In this particular instance

the Northern Kingdom merchants were being dishonest in their buying, selling, and

trading. Inflated prices, unfair weights, measures, and scales (v. 5) had become the norm.

Many of the poor became debtors and even slaves to those crooked merchants.

D. L. Moody stated in his book, "We may say that covetous desire plunged the

human race into sin. We can trace the river back from age to age until we get to its

rise in Eden. When Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was good for food and that it was

desirable to the eyes, she partook of it, and Adam with her. They were not satisfied

with all that God had showered upon them, but coveted the wisdom of gods which

Satan deceitfully told them might be obtained by eating the fruit. She saw,--she

desired--then she took! Three steps from innocence into sin."____Moody, D. L.

Weighed and Wanting Addresses on the Ten Commandments, 1898,Fleming H. Revell Company

Chicago : New York : Toronto, Publishers of Evangelical Literature,

Copyright, 1898, by The Bible Institute Colportage Association.

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Now God remembered and justly rewarded each group.

The poor would be consoled in their grief. The crooks would be punished.

Illustration: "In China’s later Han era, there lived a politician called Yang Zhen, a man known

for his upright character. After Yang Zhen was made a provincial governor, one

of his earlier patrons, Wang Mi, paid him an unexpected visit. As they talked over

old times, Wang Mi brought out a large gold cup and presented it to Yang Zhen.

Yang Zhen refused to accept it, but Wang Mi persisted, saying, "There’s no one

here tonight but you and me, so no one will know."

"You say that no one will know," Yang Zhen replied, "but that is not true. Heaven

will know, and you and I will know too."

Wang Mi was ashamed, and backed down. Subsequently Yang Zhen’s integrity won

increasing recognition, and he rose to a high post in the central government.

Human nature is weak, and we tend to yield to temptation when we think nobody can

see us. In fact, if there was no police force, many people would not hesitate to steal.

This is not to say that when we do something bad, we feel no compunction at all, just

that man is weak and prone to yield to temptation. But even if nobody witnesses our

sins, and not a soul knows of them, we cannot hide the truth from the eyes of our

conscience. In the end, what is important is not that other people know, but that we

ourselves know. When Yang Zhen told Wang Mi that "Heaven will know," he meant

that the gods would know what he had done: in other words, his own conscience.

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