Daily D – Psalm 82:1-4
God stands in the divine assembly;
he pronounces judgment among the gods:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?
Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
Rescue the poor and needy;
save them from the power of the wicked.” (CSB)
What does a pastor do on Christmas Day after leading a Christmas Eve worship service and is then unable to travel to celebrate with family because Sunday is only a day or two away? When you are the pastor and other staff members are on vacation, you stay home for Christmas. Your two young children do not get to visit their relatives to play and collect more gifts.
So what do you do? Many years ago, we awoke on Christmas Day to these circumstances. After gifts were opened and breakfast was served, we wondered what to do next. The Houston Chronicle said one movie theater in the whole Houston area would be open on Christmas Day. The newly-released Toy Story was one of the movies we could choose.
We drove thirty minutes from home and entered the door of a mall next to the theaters. It was the only unlocked door. All the lights were off in the mall except for the theater. A small crowd of displaced persons joined us that day. There could not have been more than fifty to seventy-five people.
Last night, twenty-something years after that first adventure with Woody and Buzz Lightyear, we decided we will go see the new Spiderman movie this year. I don’t think we have missed going to the movie on Christmas Day since that first time.
Now then: If I post on Twitter or Facebook that our family is going to see Spiderman on Christmas Day, I will likewise invite every critic from every corner of the globe to rain down hurtful, spiteful, mean words on me. Some will say our activity is sacrilegious.
Some people will call me a heretic for doing this on Jesus’ birthday. It will not help matters if I point out that we celebrate Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays on a day that is most often not their actual birthdays and that such is also the case for our Christmas Day celebrations.
Of course some people, like a single dad and his daughter years ago, will tell us they are joining us. That little girl grew up to marry a fine Christian young man she met at college. He was preparing for a career in the United States Army as a lawyer, a JAG.
That fine young man tragically died in a training accident. I cannot help but think of, and pray for, Bill and Katy on Christmas Day.
Our social media are full of judges these days. Most of those judgey people remind me of the unjust judges addressed in this psalm. They were way bigger than their britches. They let their power go to their heads. They did not judge fairly and equally. Read the whole psalm and see what God thinks of injustice particularly in the cases of the most vulnerable.
You might get the feeling after a few minutes on social media that people are less concerned with justice than with tipping the scales of justice in their direction. Injustice is injustice no matter which way the scales are tipped.
This psalm points to a day and time when the Messiah would come and provide justice for all. He would not be swayed by power or money. He would not side with one group or another. He would be the standard of truth and justice. He would invite everyone to live truthfully. He would empower everyone to live justly.
Mary’s praise at the blessing of being the mother of Jesus in Luke 2:46-56 echoes some of the same themes of Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. She also prays in full alignment and attunement with this psalm.
Two episodes from the life of Jesus help us understand how Jesus fulfilled and fulfills and will fulfill this psalm. First, there is the cleansing of the temple. We see this in Luke 19:45-48 and in John 2:13-25. Second, there is the crucifixion where Jesus paid the penalty for all our sin.
There is a third episode yet to come. We find it in the pages of the Book of Revelation. Start with chapter 19 and read on to the conclusion of the book. You will discover truth and justice for all people everywhere.
We dare not expect truth and justice for all people everywhere apart from Jesus because it has never, and will never, exist apart from him. Likewise, we can experience more and more of the truth and justice of Jesus as we join him in extending his kingdom rule and reign in the hearts of all people everywhere. This is why we pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” May this be our daily prayer and our daily mission.
I will seek first the Kingdom of God.
Our Father, we need your truth, we need your justice, we need your kingdom to come here and now. Use us in whatever ways you see fit to bring your kingdom blessings to us now. Amen.
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Jeremiah 35:12-14 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.”
Psalm 78:70-72 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
Jeremiah 23:20-22 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.