AMOS 5:6-15 {selected} Seek the Lord and live, or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire, and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it; you that turn justice to wormwood, and cast righteousness to the ground. ... I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins -- you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. ... Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, ... Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate;

We all have preferences in many things, are preferences often become prejudices, for if its not the way we want, we already know that we wonít like it. When it comes to speaking about prejudice, the easiest kind to speak of, are food prejudices, sometimes we can even laugh about those. I know that some of the foods that I donít like, I donít like simply because I donít like how they smell. Some of the foods I donít like, simply because of the way they taste, olives for me are the worst, for the taste of olives linger. But of all the tastes there are, perhaps none is worse than medicine. Not the new kind, where pills are sugar coated, but the old kind, like an aspirin that you didnít swallow quickly enough. How does the saying go? It was a bitter pill to swallow.

The question our text asks us is, how do we turn justice into bitterness? 2 things come to mind. 1. When the wicked prosper because of their wickedness, and are not punished, that is a bitter pill to swallow. 2. Those lives which are consumed with thoughts of revenge or getting even, those too are lives filled with bitterness. But even though these things are true, stopping here would miss the point God seeks to drive home. You see in Godís plan, justice is not about crime and punishment. Rather it is to be the fruit of the new life that God has given us in Jesus Christ, so:

Amos 5:24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
ISA 56:1 Thus says the LORD: "Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.

What is justice? It is everything that has to do with the way God rules over and among men, and Godís rule over man is presented as the model for man on who we should live together. Godís rule which includes conquering sin death and the devil, also includes the gift of Godís son, to be our savior. As the children of God, God looks to us, to follow him is doing justice, that is living together in perfect love. In other words, justice is one of those things which should always point to God, and therefore has very little to do with our current legal system, or even with revenge. We are called to bring Godís word to guide our world.

And if justice is an attribute of God, so that by embittering justice we blaspheme the name of God, even more so is righteousness an attribute of God, and to drag righteousness to the ground is to drag Godís name to the ground. God will defend His name, and such actions will be punished. But this is not the point either. As the children of God, God has called us to live in righteousness, the righteousness that comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness, not because we are perfect, but because we are forgiven, and the Holy Spirit is working in us to make us perfect. Righteousness that always points to the salvation which God in Christ has given us.

ISA 1:27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.

PSA 37:28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. The righteous shall be preserved for ever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

For Justice and righteousness are those things brought by the Messiah:

ISA 9:7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.