Injustice and Oppression; Hindsight, Foresight and the God-Man
The 80’s was a bad decade for many things; music, fashion, the economy – not many things came out of it untarnished. Eighties films however, shine out like stars in a night sky. The decade of my birth is responsible for some of the greatest films of all time. I recall with sweet affection the brilliance of films such as ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Brewster’s Millions’. Oh that they made films like that today…
Perhaps my favourite films of the eighties were those of the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy. Not only was Doc Brown hilariously weird,and hover-boards ridiculously cool, but time travel is always something to grab attention. What would I do if I could go back in time? What would I, with my years of experience, tell a younger Phill should I happen to meet him as I stepped out of my Delorean?
I’d probably tell five year old Phill that shoving all his sister’s Easter eggs in his mouth and hiding under the table with them still protruding from his very full cheeks was probably not a good idea.
I’d probably tell ten year old Phill that reciting lyrics from ‘Grease – The Musical’ would not help him win her heart.
I’d definitely tell a 22-ish year old Phill that going to sleep in that cold bath was a bad idea.
Hindsight is 20/20 it’s said, but this is exactly the problem that we find Solomon lamenting in Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes:
Who can bring him to see what will be after him? (Ecclesiastes 3:22)
We find this statement amidst Solomon’s monologue citing the injustice and oppression that he has observed in the world. Solomon’s concern is that the mortality of man is a frustration to his perception of ultimate justice. He believes that God will surely bring judgement,
I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. (Ecclesiastes 3:17)
However Solomon’s disquietude arises from the fact that as man is mortal like the beasts (Ecc 3:19), and no-one can see what will happens after they die or come back and tell someone else of their experience once it has happened (Ecc 3:22), he is unsure that he will ever see justice brought to the wicked.
Solomon asks ‘Who has died and can tell us what we should expect after death? How can we be certain that we will find God’s justice in the afterlife?
Praise be to God for the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ!
In His death and resurrection, Jesus transforms everything. He transforms death into life. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 says:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
Jesus is the firstruits, Paul says, and we can be sure that we will follow His pattern. Those who feel the frustrations of mortality are freed into the knowledge of the reality of eternal life. This life is not all there is, and we may not see the justice of God until we enter into the eternal life that Jesus offers.
Jesus assures us that justice is coming for the oppressed. In Revelation we find him declaring:
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12)
When Jesus returns, He will ‘repay everyone for what [they have] done’. The meaning of this depends on your position with Christ. For Christians, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1), and we will one day stand before God, holy and blameless because of the work of Jesus (Eph 1:4). Jesus is returning to reward Christians for their obedience to him (1 Cor 3:18). However Jesus is returning to bring judgement for those who have rejected him (Heb 10:26-27). I say this not to bring fear to non-Christians or pride to believers, but simply to make perfectly clear the necessity of our redemption in Christ.
Jesus transforms oppression into comfort. When Jesus leaves His disciples to return to His Father, he leaves with them (and us) the promised Holy Spirit, the Comforter/Counselor (John 14:26). For those of whom Solomon cries out ‘they had no one to comfort them’ (Ecc 4:1), Jesus promises comfort.
With Jesus hindsight and foresight collide. We see that ‘all of the promises of God find their Yes in him’ (2 Corinthians 1:20). In him we can be supremely confident in the many glorious and transformational promises of Scripture, not least that God will bring justice, judgement and comfort in the place of injustice and oppression.