8. Divine Justice
No matter how much we could write or say, nothing replaces the heart-led passion of conviction. Conviction burns with the fire of divine justice. The only question then is adapting our thinking and our gut reactions to actually match the reality of what God says is just.
We’ve already pointed out how you cannot comprehend the Bible without embracing at least some of the ancient Hebrew mindset. That mindset assumes things American culture finds repugnant. It is a monumental task to walk away from everything you’ve ever known. It’s the same thing Abraham was called to do, leaving behind the civilized existence of his ancestors to become part of a tent-dwelling society his people hated. This is the same call of faith today. While it may not be necessary to actually move into tents with our bodies, we must understand from the heart that this world is not our home. We can outline several major factors in such a shift in awareness, things on which the Americanized mind chokes.
First is that Creation itself is feudal. The concept of feudalism as practiced in Western history is awful, a genuine evil. However, God Himself established the Ancient Near Eastern feudal system as the single best expression of how fallen people can live in His glory and justice. An eastern sheikh would count his people as his true treasure. Take all his property and drive him from the land he occupies, but with his household still with him, all of it can be replaced. Material property is fungible, but nothing can replace people who share a covenant. It is people who make prosperity, who can harvest the blessings of God.
But they must live in feudal loyalty to the sheikh whom God appointed over them. No sheikh ever sought to be a ruler; the role comes upon people according to happenstance as controlled by God. These sheikhs then obeyed the call of God and seized the role with a passion for divine justice. They cared for their people like a shepherd his sheep. They were determined to deliver to the people all the blessings of shalom that God promised in His Word. That shalom required of them a commitment to their sheikh, and to each other. It was always based on a conscious, heart-led and voluntary commitment under a law covenant.
This is a fundamental element in divine justice; without it, nothing in the Law Covenants makes any sense. It was the basic assumption of Noah’s Covenant, all the way back to Eden. We know beyond all doubt that our world will not countenance such a thing, but this is what we strive for with what is in our hands. Whatever the Lord delivers to us as a feudal grant of stewardship, this is what we will rule with covenant authority. We don’t reach out to seize authority outside the covenant agreement. We are forbidden trying to enforce this on anyone else. Let them see the glory of our Lord and desire it, but without the feudal covenant, they can only chase after the wind.
None of this rests on how well it appears to work. It rests on the sense of peace with God. We expect trouble with this world; we expect persecution for rejecting worldly ways. At all costs to our fleshly existence, we obey the call of faith. We find ourselves simply unable to deviate from the sense of divine calling in our hearts.
Divine justice is personal, covenant and feudal. You cannot hope to understand the miracles of Christ without this image of things. Indeed, we must treat all of Creation as living, sentient and willful, if not entirely as active as we humans. This is how we discover reality, for reality itself is a person, someone who can be a friend and ally, and someone who treats no two us exactly alike. This is just what we would expect from any human person. If you strive after covenant law as the manifestation of divine justice in this world, you are a friend and ally of reality, so it reciprocates. When we are loyal to the same divine law that guides reality, reality will be loyal to us. Paul tells us that Creation groans with longing for us to reveal ourselves as children of God; it’s not just a figure of speech.
But that will typically stand in contrast to the way the fallen world responds to us. The fundamental lie of the Curse of the Fall is rejecting the truth that humanity is fallen. There is no humility, no sense of needing redemption without the divine miracle of the Holy Spirit bringing conviction upon the human soul. And we have a long history of revelation warning us that few souls in any given context will be called, not to mention Christ’s direct warning that the way back to Eden is narrow and difficult, and few can even find it.
Except in rare occasions when God’s wrath falls heavily and awakens many to their need, we should always expect to be treated as aliens. Rejoice in being found worthy to suffer the persecution they put on Jesus.