Biblical Justice

by Eric Costanzo

A friend asked me recently why many pastors today use the word “justice” so often. In his mind, we were using the word to be more culturally sensitive rather than biblical. I challenged him to do a simple word search for “justice” in the Bible, where he found “justice” is not used a handful of times or even dozens of times; it’s used hundreds of times—usually directed towards how we as God’s people are called to love our neighbors.

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)

These are the words at the heart of the Book of Amos, delivered at a time of economic prosperity, national success, and military power in Israel. As often happens during times of great comfort and security, many people were living as if they no longer needed God. Like the nations around them, God’s people were withholding justice towards their neighbors—especially those who were poor and vulnerable.  

Our journey through Amos will be a difficult one at times, as God expresses His righteous anger and “roars” against the sins of human beings. Thankfully, there is Good News at the end. Through a son of David, days of hope and life will return to the people of God through repentance. Once again, they will experience days when . . . “new wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit” (Amos 9:13b-14).

The hope Amos proclaims is the Good News message we have in Jesus Christ. Though we were once dead in our own sins and trespasses, we are made alive in Him through repentance and faith. As we journey through Amos together, may we live out our hope in Jesus Christ and share this Good News faithfully with the neighbors and nations around us!