Justice


If you were a preying mantis, it would be socially acceptable to devour your mate. And if you’re a honey badger, you have no regard for other animals. You don’t care. If you’re a panda with twins, it’s normal to abandon one to take care of the other. But if humans do any of these things, we would call it “wrong”, “unfair” or “unjust”. Yeah, why is that? Why do humans care so much about justice? The Bible has a fascinating response to that question. On page 1, humans are set apart from all other creatures as “the image of God”. Yeah, God’s representatives who rule the world by his definition of good and evil. This identity is the bedrock of the Bible’s view of justice. All humans are equal before God and have the right to be treated with dignity and fairness, no matter who you are. That would be nice, if we all did that. But, we know how the world really works. The Bible addresses that too. It shows how we are constantly redefining good and evil to our own advantage at the expense of others. Yeah, self preservation. The weaker someone is, the easier it is to take advantage of them. So, in the biblical story, we see this happening on a personal level, but also in families and then in communities and in whole civilizations that create injustice, especially towards the vulnerable. But the story doesn’t end there. Out of this whole mess, God chose a man named Abraham to start a new kind of family. Specifically, Abraham was to teach his family to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice. Doing righteousness, that’s a Bible word I don’t really use. But, what comes to mind is being a good person. What does that even mean, “being good”? The biblical Hebrew word for righteousness is “tsedeka”. It’s more specific. It’s an ethical standard that refers to right relationships between people. It’s about treating others as the image of God. With the God-given dignity they deserve. This word “justice” is the Hebrew word “mishpat”. It can refer to retributive justice. Like if I steal something, I pay the consequences. Exactly. Yet, most often in the Bible, mishpat refers to restorative justice. It means going a step further, actually seeking out vulnerable people who are being taken advantage of and helping them. Yeah, some people call this “charity.” But mishpat involves way more. It means taking steps to advocate for the vulnerable and changing social structures to prevent injustice. So, justice and righteousness are about a radical, selfless way of life. Yeah. You find this idea all over the Bible. Like here, in the book of Proverbs. What does it mean to “bring about just righteousness”? Open your mouth for those who can’t speak for themselves… And, what do these words mean for the prophets, like Jeremiah? Rescue the disadvantaged, and don’t tolerate oppression or violence against the immigrant, the orphan and the widow. And like here, in the book of Psalms: “The Lord God upholds justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. and sets the prisoner free. But he thwarts the way of the wicked.” Whoa, he thwarts the wicked? Yeah, in Hebrew the word “wicked” is “rashah”. It means “guilty” or “in the wrong”. It refers to someone who mistreats another human, ignoring their dignity as an image of God. So justice and righteousness is a big deal to God? Yes, it is what Abraham’s family, the Israelites, were to be all about. They ended up as immigrant slaves being oppressed unjustly in Egypt. So God confronted Egypt’s evil, declaring them to be “rashah”, guilty of injustice. So he rescued Israel. But the tragic irony of the Old Testament story is that these redeemed people went on to commit the same acts of injustice against the vulnerable. So God sent prophets who declared Israel guilty. But they weren’t the only ones. There is injustice everywhere. Yeah, some people actively perpetrate injustice. Others receive benefits or privileges from unjust social structures they take for granted. Sadly, history has shown that when the oppressed gain power, they often become oppressors themselves. So, we all participate in injustice, actively or passively, even unintentionally. We’re all the guilty ones. So this is the surprising message of the biblical story. God’s response to humanity’s legacy of injustice is to give us a gift: the life of Jesus. He did righteousness and justice and yet he died on behalf of the guilty. But then God declared Jesus to be the righteous one when he rose from the dead. So now, Jesus offers his life to the guilty so that they, too, can be declared righteous before God, not because of anything they have done, but because of what Jesus did for them. The earliest followers of Jesus experienced this righteousness from God not just as a new status, but as a power that changed their lives and compelled them to act in surprising new ways. Yeah, if God declared someone righteous when they didn’t deserve it, the only reasonable response is to go and seek righteousness and justice for others. This is a radical way of life. It’s not always convenient, or easy. It is courageously making other people’s problems my problems. This is what Jesus meant by loving your neighbor as yourself. It is about a lifetime commitment fueled by the words of the ancient prophet Micah, God has told you, humans, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. It is to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

100 comments

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  2. When people say I want Justice what they really mean is they want revenge. 90 Percent don't want Justice they want revenge and all they need to do is forgive. Just pray and know there is power in forgiveness. Save yourself and just forgive those who have hurt you. Pray for them that did you wrong tell them I forgive you and if they don't want your forgiveness give it anyway. Save yourself please

  3. These guys are wrong justice is nothing more than revenge. Pray to God ask for help for those who harmed you don't ask for justice it will hurt you with God. Ask God for help with this and let him decide what to do. Don't seek justice ask god for help when your wronged. Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirst, give him something to drink.

  4. Didn't the jewish religion order in their commandments to make blood sacrifices? this is my main problem with the bible and the old testament.

  5. I think one of the things were I struggle most with sin is exploiting the people of underdeveloped countries to shop cheap. I do not have a lot of extra money, but it’s not like I ever have too little. I do have the choice and I’m being selfish.

  6. When people say they believe in God and that God loves them, I ask what does love have to do with making people suffer forever? And the classic response is "you choose to live in sin" and I counter that with "yes but God created hell but also gave you free will. They just can't seem to get past the fact that the ancient imagination of people whose writings became part of what we know as the bible didn't envision an all knowing and all perfect bipolar narcissistic psychopathic deity

  7. Dudes!! We need this in Arabic!! And stop using Egyptian arabic.. there is a neutral Arabic accent (Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian)

  8. Dear Bible Project Team, Thank you to all you and may our lord grace and spirit keeps working through you in a mighty way. I see all your videos and also share with others which makes it easy to spread the good news of our Lord Jesus. Only one thing I see missing in this particular video is the word "Righteousness" has been given a very light meaning which abominates the kingdom of heaven. Though the ritual laws have been fulfilled but the 10 commandments still stand strong and active till date. Why are we so scared to highlight the commandment 7 which is the most abominating nature human in the current world.

  9. I can't even begin to tell you how much your videos have helped me expand my knowledge and understanding. Thank you.

  10. I am just so grateful for this channel! Thank you guys so much for these amazing animations of the word.

  11. Please create more content. I just found your videos and all of them are life changing and inspirational. I feel blessed!!

  12. nise video it fits on the way the person is explaining, i like it 👍

    mey GOD bless them in Jezus name 🕊🕊🕊

  13. Jeremiah 22:3, does not mention immigrants. It says strangers.
    I sense a bit of political word twisting going on.
    Come on guys! Don’t do that. Y’all are way to good to subject us to that. There is actually a verse that warns about adding to the word. You guys know better.

  14. this is the channel i can share with my friends that think bible stories are boring. awesome animation!

  15. If right-wing fundamentalists heard someone paraphrase certain Bible passages like these without saying they're from the Bible, they'd ridicule that guy and discredit them as a whiny hippie.

    "Go through the narrow gate. The wide gate and path lead to destruction and many people go through that." – Matthew 7:13

  16. The way the ribbons are used, but particularly the white ribbon/scarf is used to express the idea of righteousness and calling (maybe even the prompting of the Holy Spirit?) is so fantastic; this is such a pivotal and important illustration. Thank you for making this.

  17. This video is superb—the illustrations creative and engaging, the storytelling concise and poignant. Bless you and your ministry! I always feel edified after watching shorts from the Bible Project.

  18. So females has the potential to be in charge over males in a certain field like work education etc if we are equal

  19. Let's get a reference to support the statement that the "bedrock" of the Bible's definition of justice is that we're "all equal before God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect?"

    I agree that we, as Christians are commanded and empowered to love our enemies and do good to those who hurt us. But that is to leave room for the retribution of God, should that be His will.

    Justice in the Bible is first, and foremost based on our relationship with God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength… After that, we love our neighbor as ourselves.

    Like Chubby Checker, they like to twist (Scripture).

  20. "Being a good person" is NOT the definition of righteousness. Being right before God is righteousness, and no one can be that way because of sin, which is rebellion against God, which is the unjust bent of our wicked souls as we are born, sons of Adam. I like that they show Christ giving us the white ribbon of Justice, but what's actually the case is he's imputing his righteousness on us. We then raise the oppressed in sin by calling them to Christ, who frees them from the bondage of wickedness.

  21. God is so wonderful, He always making ways for us to do right. Because He wants to have a close relationship with us. And what are we doing?

  22. I really appreciate using the honey badger reference as a tool to reach out further and make a point. It was a pleasant surprise. You guys are cool ^_^

  23. Jews believed in 'Slavery' and the Bible never condemns it… So your video is moot/wrong…. Is something 'Just' intrinsically, and therefore is pleasing to God, or is it because God likes something, that it becomes 'Just'?? Explain…. PS. Socrates posed this very question on the nature of 'Piety'

  24. God does say not oppress the Immigrint, but God also doesnt support open borders or people who take advantage of our Nations.

  25. The animation in this particular video is fantastic, much better than the weird ones with the fat bearded people with oval heads 😳

  26. 😭😭😭😭😭😭 HALLELUJAH!!!! 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙇🏾‍♀️🙇🏾‍♀️🙇🏾‍♀️🙇🏾‍♀️🙇🏾‍♀️

  27. You make it sound like no one ever was or can ever be righteous. The OT is full of righteous people. Proverbs 24:16. Jesus is not the picture of TRUE JUSTICE. An innocent person taking the punishment for a guilty one might sound great for the guilty one but how does the victim of the guilty one get justice?

  28. A very good way to impart Biblical truth through animation and simple words where everyone who knows the languages can understand. May the Word of the LORD and His Spirit bless all who watch and listen to it. Amen.

  29. 3:56–4:15 highlights the true agenda behind many political movements. You're either oppressed or the oppressor. There is no avoiding it! Only in Christ Jesus can we gain true restorative justice through grace.

  30. I'm not a believer. However the Bible has always served as the greatest moral compass (for the most part) I could have. If one does not believe, the Bible has much more to offer than at a first glance. It was this video that truly showed me this concept. Thank you for your hard work.

  31. Dear God,
    Thank you for sending your son, Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and guilt. Thank you for sending Him to pay for my debts with his blood, though i am undeserving of it.
    Amen.

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