Summary: Dealing with injustice and oppression.
A Study of the Book of Ecclesiastes:
Finding Satisfaction In Life
Sermon # 6
“Where Is the Justice In That?”
We like stories with happy endings. We don’t mind if there is hardship and difficulties in the story but we want the good guy to win in the end. I still remem-ber the first movie in which I saw John Wayne die, I was shocked! John Wayne is not to suppose to die!
Perhaps just as important to us is that we all want life to be fair. As children when someone seemed to be cheating we would say, “That‘s Not Fair!!!” Even as adults we still want people to be fair. It infuriates us when people will not wait their turn. I noticed once when we were in a very long line at the airport in Lima, Peru trying to leave the country that people kept trying to cut in line, apparently it is socially acceptable as long as the person does not make eye contact with you. I don’t know much Spanish but apparently they under-stand when you say in English, “Hey it ain’t gonna happen!”
The truth is that we have a strange relationship with justice. We love justice when someone else wrong us, but when I wrong someone I think that they should just forgive. We want law breakers to be held account-able, but when we get caught speeding we want mercy.
Solomon has explored several areas of life in his search for meaning and purpose in life all that he has been able to demonstrate that all is vanity. He had explored wisdom (1:12-18), wise living (2:12-17), and work (2:18-26). And he had discovered that apart from God none of these have any lasting satisfaction. In the last section he turned his attention to time (3:1-15). And now the problem of injustice seems to be some-thing that caught the eye of Solomon and wanted to know how to resolve it.
First, The Problem of Injustice. (3:16-22)
No doubt we have all seen the depiction of Lady Justice (Justitia the Roman goddess of Justice). Blindfolded she holds a balanced scales in her right hand and a sword in her left hand. The blindfold represents impart-iality, the scales fairness and the sword swift and final judgment. But we all realize that sometimes it does not work that way!
I think we all realize that there are times when innocent people are convicted of crimes they did not commit. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or they were the wrong color in the wrong part of town. But on the other side we also realize that because of some technically other people get away with murder. One of the more frustrating experiences in my life was that was I called upon to serve on a grand jury of a double murder. The frustration was that we as the jury were unable to hear pertinent material because it was deemed inadmissible. The average person follow-ing the case in the news knew more about the case than we on the jury did. And of course we all remember the O.J. Simpson trial when the verdict was read of having the feeling that a man had just got away with murder. It had nothing to do with race and everything to do with justice.
• Injustice in the Courtroom. (v. 16a)
“Moreover I saw under the sun: In the place of judg-ment, Wickedness was there;…”
I believe as American’s we have one of the finest judicial systems in the world (ideally speaking). We organize as a society to try to keep some semblance of peace and justice. That is why we have a laws, a judicial system of courts, judges and prisons. But the problem is that our judicial system is only as good as the people that over see it because it is run by fallen men and women.
This is the problem that Solomon sees, as he looks at the system, instead of justice he sees wickedness. The surprise is not so much that injustice exists, but where it exists – “in the place of justice.” It still makes us cringe when hear that a judge has taken a bribe, or that a lawyer has misrepresented the facts, a witness has lied under oath or that a murderer has got away with it.
“It may well be that the wealthy and the powerful often escape human justice, since they often control it; and it may well be that in such circumstance those who have fewer financial means and less power often fail to attain justice from their fellow human beings. Yet God is the ultimate guarantor of justice and brings it to everyone in the end (Isa 10:1-4, Amos 5:7-13)” [Iain Provan. “Ecclesiastes/Song of Solomon.” NIV Application Commentary. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) p. 92]