Have you ever wondered why parts of the Bible command grotesque injustice in the name of God? Lately this has been a question I haven’t been able to ignore as much as I could in the past.
I’ve wanted to trust the Scripture’s authority, but also reject any image of the Divine that does not match what I find in the character of Christ as revealed in His meekness on the Cross. And many of the very dark passages I’ve been reading in the Old Testament lately just didn’t seem easy to explain.
I came across this sermon preached by Brian Zahnd, a dude who often has fresh insights on the goodness of God. I feel like he pretty artfully laid out this problem with Scripture and provided a Christo-centric response to it. It’s a very thought provoking talk.
Take a listen and see if you can agree with Brian’s conclusion that Jesus alone is the only “inerrant, infallible Word of God” . . . .
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God…”
Jesus used this very passage of Scripture to describe the purpose of His ministry (see Luke Chapter 4). I was struck tonight by the reality that these verses say nothing directly about Jesus coming to save sinners from their guilt or to deliver people from divine wrath on the Day of Judgment. There are plenty of Scriptures that reveal how the Gospel addresses such worries, but Jesus explained His own agenda by listing a somewhat different set of problems He would confront.
While there is definitely a spiritual form of each of these issues — Christ clearly expressed opposition to poverty, depression, slavery and corrupt criminal justice systems. God’s favor was to be revealed to the oppressed of the earth, and vengeance upon all the strongholds that dominated His children.
Sometimes I think we make our presentation of the Gospel too ethereal. We talk a lot about God’s forgiveness, justification, Heaven, and the Resurrection. All of these are topics worth deep and repeated exploration. But we somehow have divorced these doctrines from their relevant applications in the here and now.
God, however, has not.
I believe Christ’s mission remains the same today as it did the day He stood up in the synagogue to read from this passage in Isaiah. He is the fulfillment of this great prophecy, and where His presence is made known today we should see a manifestation of this reality playing out. A restorative justice should be executed in society everywhere Christ’s ambassadors are releasing His message.
Let’s trust God to use us to materialize His Kingdom in our scopes of influence in a greater way. As it is written in Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”