Justice stands above the doorway to the court. She wears long, flowing robes while one hand is uplifted holding scales, the other holds a sword. Blinded, she weighs the evidence and enforces the law without corruption, greed, prejudice, or favor. Her name was Themis, a mythical goddess of those Greeks. She represented impartial divine justice. Her daughters were also in the justice business, but they were not blind. Their justice was only for those transient beings, the mere mortals of earth.
Everyone wants justice to be fair, one size fits all. All are to be under the same law. Ah, but whose law? God’s? Can we know God’s law? If we did, what then? Can justice really be objective? Or is it some idea made conveniently enough by those in power?
Most people have a sense of fairness and seem to know when they are being treated unfairly. Even young children have a fairness meter in their brain. Those of us who have raised children have seen that our children’s fairness meter is skewed, skewed in their own favor. The child’s sense of justice comes with open eyes. It is their own justice, that is what they want. And seeing this we conclude that justice is in the eyes of the beholder.
Have you ever heard that parable where six blind persons encounter an elephant? One says that the elephant is like a fan as he holds onto an ear. Another says that no, it is more like a rope as he holds onto the tail. No it is like a tree as she holds onto a leg. No a wall as another feels the side. I am sure it is like a snake says another as she holds onto the trunk. More like a spear concludes another holding a tusk.
This parable is used to show how each of us perceives only part of the truth yet think we see the whole. Applied to justice, we can see that all of us think we are being just, yet others do not see it our way. We are left with Themis’ daughters whose sight influences what is put onto their scales.
But who is telling this parable? Who is it who actually knows that it is an elephant? Who knows objectively the actual state of affairs? The only one who can be objective is God. He is the only one. Therefore, the only justice that is actually blind, that is truly objective, is God’s.
But we cannot have society functioning without justice. Without enforced law to restrain wickedness, those who are cruel will rule. Might will make right. They will administer their “justice” to please themselves alone. What good does a divine justice serve when any and all can claim divine sanction for their evil work? Hasn’t history shown that the evilest deeds required a supposed divine authority? But what is it that gives us all this sight? How can we see that it was indeed evil and not good that was done by those who claimed divine right? Are we blind? Can we really be that impartial?
Wouldn’t it be more prudent to assume that we all are dipping into that underground pool, that hidden reservoir of justice, left there in our psyche by our creator? We all have a sense of what is right and fair when it comes to ourselves. I know when I’ve been wronged. And I can put myself in your place, if only for a moment, and empathize with you enough to get an idea as to when you have been wronged. Where does this sense of justice come from? Evolution? How could this improve our chances of survival enough to make a genetic change? Wouldn’t the most aggressive survive? Wouldn’t the uncaring and the unfeeling be better at taking care of number one? Our awareness of justice is unlikely evolutionary in origin. It is divine.
So it seems that Themis has left her mark on our nature. We all naturally have this sense of justice, unless effaced by rogue genes or twisted beyond recognition by the hardships encountered through lack nurture. We know that there is a right and a wrong, usually defined by a worldview that has us as its center. But justice exists, however we see it.
Yet Themis herself is an artifice of the intellect of man. She is humankind’s attempt at understanding divine justice. But how can we say we understand divine justice? How can we dress her up and say there she is: behold Justice! All idols have the imprint of their maker upon them. Like any good craftwork, a discerning eye will recognize the hand that made it. So it is with justice. Can your eye discern the hand of God?
Whenever mankind brings retribution for wrongs committed, they always leave within a seed, a seed of vengeance that will, in time, grow up with a hunger for retribution again. Wars do not end wars, at best they just put it them off for a generation or two. When man punishes evil, evil is not thereby ended. At best it is merely restrained. This is the flaw of human justice. It does not end the matter. Yin and yang, forever circling each other. Each with the seed of its own opposite within itself. Human justice.
Yet there is a divine justice. Much deeper than any human can fathom or concoct. The Apostle Paul wrote to us telling us to judge nothing before the time. Why? Because we can only see the external – and that makes us so easy to deceive. This is what he wrote: 1 Cor 4:4-5 NIV “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts.”
There is only one blind who yet sees. The One-who-made-it-all, he alone dispenses true justice. He demonstrated this justice in the death of Jesus the Christ, the only begotten son of God. When he was conceived in Mary’s womb he not only took on a body that was recognized as Mary’s son, but he also was enfleshed in humanity. Being sinless he could represent all humanity before God. The cruel death he suffered was what mankind deserved. Justice was served in Jesus’ death. Paul again wrote in Rom 3:23-26 NIV “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
This then forms the basis of divine justice for humanity. All have sinned. All have done things that were not loving. Each of us have, through our own brand of justice, justified ourselves when we have hurt others. But God’s justice, the real divine justice, is demonstrated on the cross of Christ where we all died.
The justice of God declares that, if you agree with God’s assessment of humanity, more than that, if you agree with God’s assessment of you, He will forgive you. In fact, He has already forgiven. You must only believe to receive. Believe that God speaks in Jesus Christ in the same way as the light shines from the sun.
The time will come when all things must be judged, when justice will be served and evil ended forever. The apostle John saw this day in a vision. This is what he wrote recorded in Rev 19:11-16. NIV “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” With justice he judges. Everyone’s heart is before him like an open book. He judges not only actions, but motivations.
The things that people have done to hurt one another, the things people have done to disguise the truth, the things people have done that is unloving, will all be judged with justice. It would be unloving for God to allow wickedness do go on forever. He who alone has the power to stop evil. The evil in each of us has led us to ignore our maker. We have not believed our God. This is the root of all the evil mankind has done. More personal than that, my rejection of my maker is the root of everything I have ever done that was unloving. Our rejection of God is the root of it all.
The apostle Paul wrote in Rom 2:5-11 NIV “because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.”
Loving God and man is doing good. Believing Jesus is the beginning of a new dawn. A day in which righteousness will prevail. Wickedness will be judged at the root. The root of evil is to disbelieve the truth by believing the lie. Where is justice? Look to the cross and believe.