“There’s no justice in the world – not unless we make it” – Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish, Game of Thrones1
If there are any statements that have been made in recent years that have become classic quotes, this has got to be one of the best. Since Game of Thrones first premiered five years ago, it has garnered worldwide acclaim and has become one of the most popular shows of recent years. While it’s hard to put success down to a formula, perhaps one of the reasons why it has been so well received is that it deals with themes that are close to our hearts (albeit in a medieval way!). For example, justice.
If there’s one thing we want in life, then it is definitely justice against all the people who have wronged us. We want them to pay for the wrong that they’ve done to us and to suffer just as we have. This longing for justice that has characterised us humans since our inception is no coincidence – because the one in whose image we were made is also fiercely passionate about justice.
This week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, deals almost exclusively with the theme of justice. God is very concerned that when He leads us into the promised land, our society should be built on doing the right thing. We are told that the judges who are elected should not accept bribes, that witnesses should not pervert the course of justice on pain of receiving a heavy punishment, and that even the King should not unjustly take for himself many wives, horses etc. Property boundaries should not be moved and cities should be set up so that manslayers can flee there and find a refuge. It’s really pretty comprehensive, and pretty clear – God is a just God and he wants us, who represent Him, to also be just.
The first question that springs to mind is: “What happened?!” Reading through the Tanakh we see that our people frequently acted in just the opposite way to how they were supposed to act. Even today, thousands of years on, a just society is still very much elusive. We, their children, really are no better.
However, in the middle of this week’s parasha, God tells us that He will one day send us a prophet just like Moshe. When this prophet comes, we will recognise him because he will be like Moshe was, and we are supposed to listen to him. Why? Well, perhaps because he will deal with this very question of justice.
They had to be a prophet, priest and king – a leader of our people in every way, just like Moshe was.
So, who could this prophet like Moses be? Every leader who arose since then didn’t fit the picture. They had to be a prophet, priest and king – a leader of our people in every way, just like Moshe was. But when Yeshua came, he claimed that Moshe had written about him. Indeed, he was the prophet like Moses – telling forth God’s truth like the prophets, interceding between the people and God just like the priests, and ultimately being the leader of our people, by virtue of the fact that he was the Messiah. Justice was heavy on his mind. Frequently we read of him rebuking the leaders for their injustice (see Matthew 23) as well as encouraging the people not to wrong each other (see Matthew 5-7). But the real lesson about justice came when he gave his life as the payments for our sins. Justice was done once and for all, in that all of the crimes against God had been paid for – taken on wilfully by the Messiah. But not only justice was served that day. Something even greater than justice happened there – mercy.
Rather ironically, we tend to want justice for those who wrong us, but mercy for ourselves when we wrong someone else! The beauty of the death of the Messiah, is that both justice and mercy meet – justice in that our sins were punished, mercy, in that we weren’t the ones that were punished.
So if justice was finally done around 2000 years ago, why is there still so much injustice in the world? Why is this still so much injustice in our lives? Why are we still so unjust? Will we ever live in a world where justice is truly administered? God promises us that one day this world will end (Tehilim/Psalm 102:25-27), but He also promises that He is creating a new world, one in which there is peace and justice (see Yeshayahu/Isaiah 11 and 65:17). However, until that time comes, we live in an age of decision. We have to decide whether we are willing to take on the mercy of God that he showed us by letting the Messiah die for our sins and rise from the dead, or whether we want to continue to remain in rebellion against Him and ultimately face the wrath of His justice.
Game of thrones is right – currently there is no justice in the world. And yet it’s also wrong – because we cannot make justice ourselves. We are too broken and have two little power to see that enacted across the globe. But God, who longs for justice, administered justice with mercy almost 2000 years ago. If you really want to see a world full of justice, then take on God’s offer of mercy to you in the here and now. Because one day, whether we like it or not, there will be justice.
There’s no justice in the world