Fast forward into the future, Paul is writing another letter to the young congregation in Thessalonica. Or is it Paul? Apparently, there is some controversy as to the authorship of this second letter, despite the fact Paul’s name is used. As I’ve said before, I don’t want my reflections to get so caught up in those kinds of details, but I did want to make you aware of something I had learned in case you notice a difference in style or intent between the two letters.
Similar to 1 Thessalonians, we do see a lot of thanksgiving going on. I love the picture these words paint for me as Paul says, “your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.” Don’t we all want this type of observation to be made about us? What a compliment!
When they say, “Moses gave the law,” it’s true. Here is another fine example of some of the specifics God chose to offer the people. A couple present day examples come to mind. Do you ever notice how the “terms of service” go on and on when you sign up for something? Think of the side effects of a prescription medication or the warnings that come with a new purchase. That’s because the company is covering their tush, or that such things have happened and it’s likely they will happen again. That is especially true with the warning labels on products. Someone has gotten hurt, sued the company, and now the company has to be clear on their packaging to be careful not to be stupid when using the product.
I apologize if I ruffled your feathers here with my bluntness. I suppose after years of being a paralegal I have seen it all. The crazy situations people get themselves into and then want to blame the other person never ceases to amaze me. A good lawyer will look at a situation and assess the negligence in an instant. If a person is wrongfully injured because of the negligence of another, then by all means, justice should be served. Moses is giving more examples of how justice can be served here in the new land.
This is an example of a continuance between chapters of the same thought or theme. Our last reading was on justice, and this one will be the same. What is important to notice here is that Moses is talking more about the process and who does what. Keep in mind, the words Moses is speaking here are meant to help the people assimilate into a new reality. While they have been wandering around the desert for the last 40 years, they have not had to have such processes in place because Moses and his helpers have kept the peace and brought wisdom to the people.
Interesting to see the brief reference to sacrificing. It must have been expected that people would try to give God their second best or defective animals. Didn’t we hear previously that defective first-born animals should not be given to the Lord. Moses felt the need to repeat this again in this context as we’re talking about justice. Now, at least, we know why. They are detestable to the Lord.
What is justice? Having worked for lawyers most of my life, I was surrounded by justice, or at least seeking it for our clients. The opposite is “injustice” or an abuse of power. I have seen plenty of examples of injustice during my years in the legal field. There are also many examples in our world. When we see unfairness in wages, for example, you might say there is an abuse of power at work; and it’s an injustice.
To have justice then, we need to balance the power. God intends good for us. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” It isn’t in God’s plan for us to suffer, be in want, feel unloved, be abused, be poor, be alone, etc. When someone swoops in and steals our joy or abuses their power to hurt us, that is injustice. To God, that is sinful.