Justice and Mercy

Malachi 3:5-7 (NASB)
"Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me," says the LORD of hosts. "For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of hosts. "But you say, 'How shall we return?'"

When respect for God is absent, no good can be expected. Those who practice the works of unrighteousness often justify their sinful actions to themselves because they foolishly think they are hidden from others. But God, seeing and knowing all they do, stands as a witness against them. Though it may seem to the unrighteous that God will refrain from enforcing His judgment against them, it will surely overtake them. There is no escape.

Those who are responsible for the social injustices that plague society do not only sin against their neighbors, but God Himself. By their behavior they show a lack of respect for God.

This passage calls us to genuine repentance that results in positive action. This is how we return to God. It also shows God to be unchanging in His justice and mercy. Mercy towards those who obey Him or return to Him in repentance, and justice against those who do evil. In the days of the prophet Malachi, God remained steadfast and faithful to the covenant He made with Israel, even though Israel strayed away from it and had become like an unfaithful spouse. But due to God's mercy and willingness to keep to the promises He made to His people, He chooses not to let Israel be utterly destroyed. On the contrary, He continued to reach out His hands to take them back.

As the One who created us, and then redeemed us, God requires that we respect, honor, and be faithful to Him. There are dire consequences if we fail to repent of our sins and continue to do wrong to or withhold help from our neighbors. On the other hand, the Lord promises to return to those who truly return to Him in repentance. When we seek to follow His path for us, we then will be renewed and made righteous through Christ when we are reconciled to God through Him.

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