Day 12. Messiah's Righteousness and Justice (Isaiah 11:3-5)


Audio (8:35)

Thursday, Second Week of Advent

Christ Pantocrator (1148 AD), mosaic, dome of Cathedral of Cefalu, Palermo, Italy
Christ Pantocrator (1148 AD), mosaic, dome of Cathedral of Cefalu, Palermo, Italy

Read again today in the Bible: Isaiah 11:1-10

Today we continue with Isaiah's wonderful prophecy of the Messiah. This part concerns righteousness and justice for the poor (a subject we looked at on Day 7).

"3b He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4  but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5  Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist." (Isaiah 11:3b-5, NIV)

Justice for the Poor

Near Eastern kings were not just absolute monarchs in charge of the "executive branch" of government. They were also the court of last resort for the judicial function of government. Even today, the princes of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Jordan listen to disputes and problems of their citizens, much as David and Solomon did three millennia ago (2 Samuel 15:2-6; 1 Kings 3:16-28).

The Messiah will be the ultimate Judge, but without the limitations of a human monarch.

"3b He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth." (Isaiah 11:3b-4a)

Too often our courts favor the wealthy, powerful, and sophisticated, and their high-powered attorneys. The poor get a court-appointed attorney, if that, and may be seen as "losers" by the judge when they stand in court. But Christ cares about justice for the weak and powerless, whether or not they dress well or can speak eloquently before the court. Our God listens to the weakest. Righteous human judges at their best make their judgments based on testimony and evidence presented, but this Judge has knowledge of the heart and the motives.60

A Special Focus on the Poor, the Needy, and the Alien

In many parts of the Christian world, the Christmas season prompts a special outreach to the poor with food for families and gifts for children. That is in keeping with the concerns of the Messiah for "the needy" and "the poor of the earth."

Again and again the Law and the Prophets declare Yahweh's concern for the marginalized of our society. Here is just a sample of a theme that runs throughout Scripture.

"Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien." (Leviticus 19:10)

"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien." (Leviticus 23:22; cf. 19:10)

"If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you." (Leviticus 25:35)

"At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites ... and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied." (Deuteronomy 14:28-29a)

"For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight." (Psalm 72:12-14)

"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed." (Psalm 82:3)

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward him for what he has done." (Proverbs 19:17)

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute." (Proverbs 31:8)

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke....
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter --
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Justice and provision for the poor is a high priority for both the Father and the Son.

Righteousness Will Be His Belt (Isaiah 11:4b-5)

Finally, the prophet speaks in poetic terms about the moral authority of the Messiah when he speaks and renders judgment. The wicked should fear when he pronounces sentence.

"4b He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips
he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist." (Isaiah 11:4b-5)

Those of us who have the privilege of living in a democracy are blessed -- relatively. But power, even in a democracy, tends to corrupt. I'm thinking of legislators who vote for what will get them re-elected, rather than what is right and good for the body politic. It takes special courage to be righteous in a corrupt society. But God looks down and is pleased.

28 Advent Scriptures, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Also available in book formats: PDF, Kindle, and paperback.

When Messiah comes, he will hold accountable those rulers who favored their own personal interest over doing what is good for the whole, especially the disadvantaged of society. Messiah Jesus sets the standards by which we shall be judged. Righteousness and faithfulness clothe him. Let them be our garb as well.

Prayer

Father, so often we overlook the poor and weak. We sometimes look down on those of other races and cultures, even the aliens who have immigrated to our country. We repent. Forgive us. Place your heart of love, intense love, within us, that we might be recognized by the Messiah on that Day when he judges the earth. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

Discussion Question

Q12. (Isaiah 11:3-5) Why do you think God has a special place in his heart for the poor and disadvantaged? Who are the unloved, overlooked, and looked-down-upon in your city? What are you doing to demonstrate Messiah's love and justice to them?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/2086-q12-justice/

Endnote

References and Abbreviations

[60] 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Proverbs 16:2; Jeremiah 17:10; 20:12; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 2:23.

 

Copyright © 2021, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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