Series: The Lion and the Lamb
Message: I Need a Hero
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Becky De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Adrian Peterson
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Isaiah 59:14-60:1 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: My most notable personal experience with the justice system—as opposed to justice in general—occurred many decades ago when, as a crime victim, I: 1) made a formal statement to a police officer, 2) developed a composite sketch from folders filled with eyes, eyebrows, noses, mouths, face shapes, mustaches, goatees, hair styles, manifestations of male pattern baldness, sideburns, and glasses, and 3) attended a line-up at the King County Jail in Seattle where six suspects filed in a line across a lit stage and followed directions when their numbers were called. “Number 5, please step forward. Turn to your right. Turn to your left. Repeat these words [insert phrase]. Remove your glasses.”
The formal statement was a disaster. So many questions: What color was his shirt? His hair? Eyes? How tall? Weight? Skin color? Length of hair? Shoes? “I’m sorry,” I kept saying, as if I’d failed to properly prepare for a geography test. “I wasn’t expecting these questions.” My composite sketch ran in the newspaper. It looked nothing like anyone who actually exists; it didn’t even look like a real person but it was my best shot. Finally, I failed to identify the suspect the police had chosen for me. Turns out he was Number 2. They were quite certain of his guilt and had a body of evidence to support their certainty. But without eyewitness testimony, that evidence was circumstantial and not enough to justify bringing the case to trial.
The police later showed us a snapshot of the suspect, either sitting in or standing next to a red sports car. Jaunty, confident—or maybe that was just the effect of the car. “This is the guy,” they told my mother and, I suppose, me. I looked at this energetic man smiling with his cool car, and I thought, “I have never seen that person before in my life.” But the police were positive that I had seen him and they were only sorry that I couldn’t stand up and say so in court. “We have him at the scene at the right time,” they said. “He has priors.”
When I talk about this, which isn’t very often because, let’s face it, it isn’t much of story—pretty anticlimactic—people sometimes ask how I feel about having been denied justice. Here’s the thing: I was denied nothing. Everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do. And the sympathy of the police meant something to me. It mattered to them to get justice for little old me. But you don’t find justice through rendering injustice. A potentially innocent person cannot be thrown into prison just because someone—even if it’s the police—is “certain” of their guilt.
This chapter tells us that God cares about justice—deeply—saying, “it displeased Him that there was no justice . . . no one to intercede” (Verses 5-6). He seems intent on changing that—at some point. Here’s a great line from a movie I love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012): “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end.”
Recalibrate: Issues of justice can be hot-button topics with people often taking very different perspectives. What does the concept of justice mean to you?
Respond: Pray for greater justice in the world and for the part you may play in bringing it about.
Research: Investigate different forms of justice and their logic and rationale.
Remember: “I promise that my Spirit and my words that I give you will never leave you” (Isaiah 59:21, ICB).
Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, editor, and graphic designer. She is working on a PhD in research methods at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Say our Words to Remember with your little one: “I promise that my Spirit and my words that I give you will never leave you” (Isaiah 59:21, ICB). What we say and how we say it is soaked up by our precious babies from the moment they can see and hear us. While they may not understand what we are saying, they feel every word of it. God’s spirit and words are driven by love and the desire to make things right for the ones who love Him. Soak up His words of love for you. Know that God’s love never leaves or lies. Speak this in your heart and over your family today.
Work on memorizing our Words to Remember for this week: “I promise that my Spirit and my words that I give you will never leave you” (Isaiah 59:21, ICB). We’ve all made promises—I won’t eat the last cookie, or I will be on time, or I will always be your best friend. And if you are like me . . . you ate the last cookie! We don’t always keep our promises. But God is different. What God says, He does! He promises that His Spirit and words will always be with us. We are never without the help of the Spirit or the words that help us understand God and how to live well in this world. Take time today to think about the words of God that help you on good days and on rough days. Remember, God is always here to help you through!
“Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed” (Isaiah 59:14, NLT). What a pretty bad situation the prophet Isaiah is describing! This was not just a few bad things happening and “hey, that’s life;” this was a situation where bad people were doing bad things and bad people in the government were letting them get away with it. Share a time with your mom or dad where you saw or experienced someone doing something bad and they didn’t get caught or no one seemed to care. How did it make you feel? Angry? Sad? Nothing? How do you think God feels when He sees injustices like this? God doesn’t like to see or experience His creations hurting other. He sees it all and one day soon He will step in with His “strong arm” and bring justice.
Today I was at lunch with a couple of friends, one of whom is a lawyer. He was telling us about what a lawyer does, and what a lawyer’s job really looks like. As we were talking, he expressed how he has noticed that more and more people in his field of work care less about justice and more about winning. A lawyer is someone who studies the law and uses the law to determine justice. Another word for justice is fairness. How have you noticed that people care less and less about what is fair, and more about what benefits them? The text tells us that “justice is turned back.” I would encourage you to be a light in a world of injustice. I believe Jesus has called all of us to be fair and just to everyone we come into contact with. Changing the culture of the world starts right now with you!
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Adrian Peterson is the associate pastor at Burwood Adventist Community Church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.