What Has Happened to Truth and Justice?
Paul Niehoff (Australia)
We live in an age where truth is very difficult to find. In many cases it is considered to be relative depending on who is speaking and especially when politicians are involved. There is a reminder of this in John 18:38 when Pilate, who was well known to be very political, asked the question, probably sarcastically, “What is truth?” In actual fact, the truth was standing in front of him as Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6).
In some cases, for an educator even to state an obvious truth like the fact that some races generally perform better in education than others can risk that person losing their job. The fact that it may well be true does not matter. Even to agree with such a statement can be dangerous for one’s employment. And this is only one example; there are many others where it is safer to stay quiet than to reject an obvious untruth. In some countries, even quoting certain parts of the Bible is considered hate speech and can be punished by law. This is causing truth to be suppressed at times due to fear. And yet, God explains what He thinks about truth and lying in Proverbs 12:22: “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.”
Justice also can be hard to find today and the outcome of trials can often depend on what kind of lawyers a defendant can afford. In some cases, the result of justice can depend on the color of a person’s skin. But when we read Leviticus 19:15, we find what God decrees about judgement: “You shall do no injustice in judgement. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbour.”
There are many examples today of the lack of truth and justice that we hear about constantly. But in God’s Word, Isaiah 59 is a chapter mostly on the evils of society. While it certainly applied to Isaiah’s time, the last few verses imply that it also applies to our time and to the near future. Verse 20 states: “‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ Says the LORD.”
Verse 4 of the same chapter states: “No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.” God condemns them because they do not seek truth and justice.
Isaiah 59:14-15 repeats this theme forcefully: “Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter. So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him That there was no justice.” Make himself a prey has the meaning of “a person that becomes the victim of an enemy.”
In Matthew’s Bible of 1537, “makes himself a prey” is rendered as “must be spoyled.” The verb spoyled or spoiled in this instance means to plunder, pillage or rob. In this day, for a person to not follow a crowd to do evil (Exodus 23:2), could be considered a reason for the crowd to do harm to that person. In fact, there is an expression, “Silence is violence,” which is used to criticize or harm those who do not verbally support the crowd doing evil.
The Koren version of 2015, a Jewish translation, renders it as “makes himself ridiculous.” In at least three commentaries, this expression is rendered “is counted mad.” Today it is considered by many that if a person relies on his religion to determine his actions, he is considered mad and he will be ridiculed. This can also be a very difficult trial for someone trying to obey God. To be constantly made fun of because of personal beliefs can be very wearying. It is little wonder that God is greatly displeased.
But we must remember that when we are persecuted or ridiculed for doing what is right, ours is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10-12).
So, to conclude, we have already read that God delights in those who deal truthfully (Proverbs 12:22). He also instructs us in what He considers good, what He requires: “To do justly, to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Going back to Isaiah 59:18, we read, “According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies; The coastlands He will fully repay.” So God will repay for the current lack of truth and justice.
So, to answer the question, what has happened to truth and justice? At the moment they can be quite difficult to find, but when God intervenes, they will be the standard way of life for the whole world. As we read in Deuteronomy 32:4, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.”