Where is the God of Justice?

Welcome to Real Life. Life doesn’t get more real than the book of Malachi. The people of Israel are discouraged. Life is hard. They're disappointed with God.
“I have always loved you,” says the Lord. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”

“It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements?”[1]
Have you ever felt this way? Israel did. Her people had spent seventy years in captivity in Babylon. Now they’re back, but they’re not back. Israel was once a super power. Now, she’s poor and weak. God’s glory and presence that once filled his temple are long gone. The people are back in their own land, but they’re still under the strong arm of the Persian Empire. Evil men reign and prosper while God’s own people falter. Where is the God of justice?

It can seem futile to serve God today. Evil people often prosper. Good people are mocked and vilified. Occasionally, we see justice. Cuyahoga County residents felt a measure of satisfaction when our commissioner was arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced to prison. The man arrogantly abused the power of his office. He stole our tax dollars. His sins were front page news. He deserves to pay, right?

I want justice for him, but not for me. It is too easy and (dare I say) fun
to point out someone else’s moral failings. All the while, I close my eyes to my own. Yet, no one is without fault. Would I want my sins to be front page news? Do I really want justice? 

This is Israel’s problem. She's quick to blame others and ignore her own faults. But, God loves her too much to let her get away with it. Why is the nation miserable, weak, and poor? The Lord won’t bless those who are walking away from him. The people of Israel only want to give God the bare minimum. (Then, they complain that this is too much of a burden.)  He wants it all. He wants to be their all in all. They offer God left-overs and wonder why his presence and glory are gone. When Israel foolishly asks, “Where is the God of justice?” he answers:
Suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come.
But, who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand when he appears?
For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.
[2] 
The God of justice is coming. His message to Israel is his message to me, “Don’t condemn others, Peggi. Look at yourself." God doesn't want left-overs. He wants my whole heart, mind, and strength. When I surrender all of who I am to the Lord, his presence and glory fill my soul.
"Return to me and I’ll return to you," says the Lord Almighty.[3]
It's not futile to serve God.  In fact, the pay-off is huge. On the day of his coming, he promises:
  • You will be mine. You will be my treasured possession. 
  • You will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. 
  • All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble. 
  • For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.
The God of justice is coming.  He's bringing a paycheck.

Dear Lord, I want to return to you. Show me the way. Teach me how to live a life that honors you. Amen.

Taking it further …

  • Is life hard?  Could you be blaming your problems on others and ignoring your own issues?  Ask God to help you see his perspective.
  • Read Malachi (3 short chapters). 
[1] Portions of Malachi 1:2 and 3:14
[2] Portions of Malachi 3:1-2
[3] Malachi 3:7

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