Social Justice Project #14

What does the Bible say about justice?

Part 10: The Minor Prophets: Malachi

In the Hebrew Scriptures, prophets spoke for God, delivering His message to the two nations of Judah and Israel. They called the people to return to God and described the future penalty for failure to do so.

Sixty-two times in the seventeen prophetic books justice is mentioned. Malachi wrote his work after the return of the exiles from Persia, between 433 and 400 BC. He is generally accepted as the last prophet of the Hebrew Scriptures.

The exiles had returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the Temple, and the city walls. But, nothing had changed among them. They continued in the same sins that had befallen their ancestors.

Malachi uses the word justice twice in his oracles. At the end of chapter 2, it is plain to see that God’s people had returned to the land, but had not returned to God. Their complaint, in light of the idea that the wicked seem to prosper, is that the righteous God, the God of justice, was not there (Mal. 2:17). They believed that God was unjust not to bless them. However, their complaint was wearisome to Yahweh. Such complainers were really counted among the rebellious.

In the next chapter, the prophet reports a host of injustices which were rampant among the people, such as sorcery, adultery, false testimony, and oppression of the poor. Foreigners to the land were being denied right judgement, or justice, because of their alien status. The root of these sins was a lack of reverence for Yahweh. However, a Messiah will come.

Each of these usages is consistent with our definition.

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