Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Tuesday, 23 December 2014


By Jim Jordal

 Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places…                                   Isaiah 32:15-18 KJV

With the entire earth torn by war, ethnic and religious hatred, class struggles, and violence between police and private citizens, we still seem to think we can gain meaningful and lasting peace by discussing endlessly the need to de-escalate our struggle, and through creating the political institutions we think may help attain peace. But the more we talk the greater becomes the problem.

God said it best in the scripture passage above: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.”

God describes an unbreakable connection between righteousness and peace. But peace does not arrive of its own accord: it is a product of righteousness, or right relationships between man and God, man and man, and man and the earth.

As I write this the news involves two policemen assassinated in New York city by an angry, mentally-disturbed gunman who made the comment that his monstrous act was in retaliation for the killing of Eric Garner, a black man allegedly killed by police using a  prohibited choke hold. He traded two for one in his twisted thinking. But now what will we do?

We can better train the police in protective measures. We can increase police presence as a means of frightening potential troublemakers. We can talk endlessly about race relationships. Or we could begin moving toward righteousness as defined by scripture. Only the latter effort will bear long-term benefit, but you can be relatively certain that we’ll try everything else before listening to God.

So what might righteousness between man and God and man and man look like? Since most of the average person’s formal contact with God occurs in a place of worship, perhaps that’s the place to begin.

Scores of scripture passages reveal God’s displeasure with religious practices that do not include obedience to God’s laws for justice that would arise from right relationships. I’m continually struck by the ignorant arrogance of political and economic leaders attempting to foster peace and harmony in poverty-stricken, hopeless communities while paying no attention to the causes of their suffering and consequent rage.  As the truism says: “Without justice, there can be no peace.”

The prophet Amos’s words express God’s view of our impotent worship practices as parodies of what he really wants: “ I hate, I despise your feasts, And I can't stand your solemn assemblies. Yes, though you offer me your burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will not accept them; Neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat animals. Take away from me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like rivers, And righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:21-24, WEB). It’s abundantly clear: God wants obedience, not sacrifice!

If we seriously attempted to do God’s will on interpersonal and intergroup relationships, we would immediately institute a governmental program attempting over a period of years to redress the balances between rich and poor. We would end laws and policies favoring the ultra-rich and grossly discriminating against the poor. It wouldn’t be equality, but equity, or fairness. It would create sorely-needed jobs within ghettos. It would increase wages to the point where a full-time worker could actually support a family. And it would build infrastructure and housing to support these efforts.

Then we would be doing things God’s way, and could expect as an outcome a lessening of racial and class tensions, and a resurgence of peace and prosperity, like we all claim to want, but are unwilling to pay for.