Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’
… I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.
Revelation 19:1–2, 11–12
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’
Martin Luther King famously said that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’. In the story of salvation, played out on the stage of human history, God’s justice has the final word.
Too often, though, it doesn’t feel like that. Too often it feels like our small attempts at seeking justice on our frontlines flounder. Too often we find ourselves joining in with the chorus of lament echoing from under the altar in Revelation 6:10, crying ‘how long, Sovereign Lord’. The tension of a reign inaugurated but not yet fully realised can be aching.
But this is a hope not grounded in human ability. God’s desire is to dwell with his people, to wipe every tear of injustice from their eyes, and to do away with pain and death.
And so complete justice will one day come to pass, as the book of Revelation tells us. For there will be a time where each act of injustice is judged, each sin answered for, each wrong made right. With justice, the only one who is Faithful and True will wage war on all that sabotages shalom in God’s good world.
This coming reality gives us cause to live peaceably in the present, even in our broken world. Peace that doesn’t come from giving up on the potential of things getting better, or from everything being perfect now, but because one day it will be.
This coming reality gives motivation to our actions in the present, as we join in God’s work on our frontlines. But it also liberates us from an unhealthy weight of responsibility, as if it all depends on us and our activism.
We don’t have to be the answer to the world’s problems. Salvation and power belong to God, and he is the judge. He will achieve the ‘healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2), and what we now glimpse in part we’ll see in full.
So, as a fitting response, we might worship, praising God that his perfect justice will be worked out in the places we find ourselves, and spotting signs of where his Spirit is already at work accomplishing this. This is less of a call to a particular action, and perhaps that’s the point.
The good news of the gospel is that God reigns, Jesus is Lord, and he will make all things new.
Editor, Word for the Week
Where have you seen God’s justice at work this week? Join in the conversation in the comments below.