Day 40: Sabbath as Justice
As you inhale, whisper, “May Your justice…” As you exhale whisper, “…flow like streams of living water.” 2. Slowly read aloud the following Scripture
[And Yahweh said to Judah,] “‘Your priests violated My law and desecrated My holy things. They can’t tell the difference between sacred and secular. They tell people there’s no difference between right and wrong. They’re contemptuous of My holy Sabbaths, profaning Me by trying to pull Me down to their level. Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want. Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations. They say, “This is what God, the Master, says . . .” when God hasn’t said so much as one word. Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice.’” (Ezekiel 22:26-29, MSG) For further exploration:
(20 min, but EXCELLENT. PLEASE WATCH!)
Eternal Father, we thank You for being the just Judge. Thank You for hearing us when we call to You for help for our nation. Thank You for moving on the hearts of Your people to establish peace, justice and righteousness in the earth. Lord, we will praise You with all of our hearts. Your love for us is so very great; we will give glory to Your Name forever! Lord, You have rescued us from the depths of death. We will sing of Your unfailing love forever. Young and old will hear of Your faithfulness. Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.
Immortal Father, we command justice to run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream within our judicial system in America. Your Word says that justice and righteousness are more acceptable to You than sacrifice. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne. We confess that justice and righteousness will prevail in our nation, homes, workplaces, churches, schools and communities. You are the Lord who loves all of humankind; You are no respecter of persons. Lord, You created us in Your image and it is Your desire that we, Your creation, love each other as we love ourselves. Lord, we believe that You will raise us above the injustices of racism that our nation has witnessed lately. And because Your Spirit dwells within us, the Body of Christ, we confess that we will walk in righteousness and integrity. We will not discriminate against anyone because of their race, their sex, or their age. We will not pay back evil with more evil, but we will always do things in such a way that everyone can see that you are honorable.
Holy Spirit, as I watch the news, show me how to pray about the injustices in our nation:
Holy Spirit, please help our nation to heal from the wounds that the many instances of injustice have inflicted on the American people. Remind the members of the Body of Christ not to sin by letting anger control them. Grant each of us the desire and commitment to daily walk in Your justice and righteousness without prejudice or partiality. Deal with the hearts of those Christians who practice this ungodliness. Remind them to walk in Your Spirit and not in their flesh. Guide parents on how to talk with their children about this subject in a way that will not instill fear, anger, or hatred. Holy Spirit, I ask that You search my heart for areas of hidden discrimination or bias and remove it immediately from me.
Abba Father, forgive us for any acts of racism, sexism, and ageism. Forgive our nation for its injustice, prejudice, and oppression. Forgive our nation for loving power and things instead of people. Please forgive those persons who are presently practicing racism, sexism, and ageism. As the Body of Christ, we renounce the gods of racism, sexism, and ageism. Forgive me, Father, for not acknowledging that when I make blanket statements about race, sex, or age that I am discriminating. Father, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed).
Holy Spirit, remind us all of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal names or faces of people that you may need to forgive. As He reveals them say, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)
Holy Spirit, help us all not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
Triumphant King, You are greater than any other god. You do whatever You please throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths. You cause clouds to rise over the earth. You send lightning with the rain and release the winds from Your storehouses. Your Name, Lord, endures forever. Your fame is known to every generation. Yours, Lord, is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Concepts to Consider
Sabbath=Justice=Good News. Throughout the Biblical prophets one of the primary accusations leveled against the people of God is that they did not act justly. In Hebrew, justice is “mish-PAHT” ִמְִשְָׁצָּט which means demonstrating…
…right and equitable behavior towards the neighbor. Mishpat can also be translated “judgment,” making proper distinctions with wisdom and uprightness. It has to do with fairness and rightness in judgments with those over whom we have power. If justice exalts a nation, it is those nations that treat their citizens with equity, especially those weakest and least capable of influencing or contributing to our quality of life, which will be exalted.
(from “The Message of Hosea 1-3: A Harlot’s Wages” by R. Mark Shipp, professor of Old Testament at Austin Graduate School of Theology. Leaven, Volume 17, Issue 1 2009, pp. 43-49. Link: http://b.link/ShippAmos)
As we saw in the Ezekiel passage above (directed to Judah) and as we shall see in Hosea below (directed to the ten Northern tribes collectively called “Israel”), empty worship, faithlessness, idolatry, and lack of justice are the presenting symptoms of a sick people and nation:
“Now I will uncover [Israel’s] lewdness in the sight of her lovers [the foreign gods she worships],
and no one shall rescue her out of My hand. And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts.
And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
of which she said, ‘These are my wages,
which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them.
And I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” (Hosea 2:10-12; 19 and 12:6, ESV)
- Personal Reflection: Jesus illuminated justice via His summary of Torah, “love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). What areas in your life need justice? What situations need you, with God’s help, to act justly in them?
- Kingdom Reflection: When we clear a space for justice to take root in our world, then we are living out of a Sabbath mindset. As the Body of Christ and as the Temple of the Holy Spirit, collectively we are meant to serve and be a shelter for the cause of justly “loving our neighbor” in our world. Where in your world could you partner with God and other believers to clear a space for justice to grow?
Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:
If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7). Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word, phrase, or image from the Scripture you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord.