This is a daily bible blog and many readers have accompanied me on this year’s journey. I’m grateful for your interest, support, comments and prayers. May God bless you in the new year. Today’s passage is taken as usual from the Episcopal daily readings.
Daily Headline: Caddy Adzuba voice for justice in Congo
Judah’s Song of Victory
26On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city; he sets up victory like walls and bulwarks.
2 Open the gates, so that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
3 Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord God * you have an everlasting rock.
5 For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height; the lofty city he lays low.
He lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust.
6 The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.
7 The way of the righteous is level; O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous.
8 In the path of your judgements, O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and your renown are the soul’s desire.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
The aim of homeland security and national defence is that the nation should be strong, by which is meant that it possesses enough weapons and trained military to blast its enemies off the face of the earth; and that it has good enough intelligence to know who its enemies are and what they are up to. By this standard the U.K, USA, China, The Russian Federation, France, are strong, while Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Japan and Cuba are relatively weak. By Isaiah’s criterion, however, it’s the other way round: the righteous nations, those that worship the One God and live in social justice, are said to be strong, whereas mere military might and excessive consumption (characterised as the “inhabitants of the height”) will be laid low.
The way of the righteous is not an upwardly mobile route in wealth and power: it is level. It is a smooth road because it is concerned with equality rather than gradations of status or rank. The Hebrew word sedaqah, translated “righteous” in this Bible really means a combination of personal integrity and just dealing. It means that rightness is never merely personal and justice never merely social. The intense desire of the people for God’s guidance is beautifully expressed in the words, “In the path of your justice we wait for you,” as if by standing expectantly on the right path they will encourage God to come and lead them.
The Christian tradition especially in its Protestant form has downgraded the importance of social justice, which the scriptures present as the primary virtue of
community life. This has been done in the name of the “salvation” offered in Jesus, forgetting that what we need saved from is as much our social injustice as our personal wickedness; and that what we are saved for, is as much a just community life as it is personal holiness. It would be good if in 2013 all churches could recover a biblical joy in justice, such as is shown in this passage, and advocate it politically as the way to real strength.