Today is the last day of Kislev and the sixth day of Hanukkah. We’ve been addressing the story of Hanukkah because it is a microcosm of a greater message we see consistently throughout the Scriptures. Specifically, it is a story describing the struggle between two competing mindsets, eternally at war with one another.
We see this struggle between competing mindsets with the two trees in the Garden; one renders life and the other renders death. We see it in the story of Esau and Jacob; two brothers, conceived in the same womb, yet, diametrically opposed to one another in thought and deed and in destiny. This same struggle continues on today in so many ways. One way in particular is how these two sides view justice.
Today, there are those who advocate for social justice and those who champion equal justice; there is a dramatic and distinct difference. Frankly, the Scripture does not promote social justice, but equal justice. Nevertheless, more and more we see Christians promoting the idea that the Messiah was for social justice. But what does the Scripture say?
In John 12, Mary took a jar of very expensive ointment and poured it on Yeshua’s feet. The Bible tells us that, at that point, Judas Iscariot, who was the treasurer of the group, took great offense to this. Pretending to care for the poor, Judas said, “You know, this could have been taken and sold and the proceeds been given those who are needy.” To that Yeshua replied:
“Let her alone, she has kept this for the day of my burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” (John 12:7-8)
Ponder this: the Messiah said (and He should know), that the world will always have poor people living in it. Should we not take that to mean that mankind will never eradicate poverty? Of course we should try and help those who are less fortunate. But social justice advocates have taken the position that we should eradicate poverty even if it means forcefully taking from those who have more than others, so that everyone “pays their fair share.”
Does the Bible promote being generous and caring for those in need? Of course, it does. But as in every other aspect of life, God wants us to do what’s right because we want to do what’s right. He wants it to come from our heart. He doesn’t coerce, manipulate and legislate us into doing what’s right against our own will. He wants us to do what’s right because it’s in our heart to do it.
Scripture also compels everyone to do their “fair share” whether they are rich or poor, because, everyone is equal in the eyes of His law. However, the Bible also acknowledges that not everyone is the same, socially; there are rich and there are poor. When it came to giving the half shekel in support of the Tabernacle, here’s what the Scripture says:
“The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves.” (Exodus 30:15)
While the Scripture sees everyone as being equal in the eyes of His law, it also acknowledges that there are distinctions in the eyes of society. And so then, the Scripture promotes equal justice, not social justice. Again, Scripture does challenge us to care for those who are less fortunate – the widows, the orphans etc. Caring for others and demonstrating generosity is fruit that we should produce. But a conflict is brewing in today’s world because there are those who would like to legislate generosity; they want to force the issue upon certain segments of society, against their will.
Herein lies the conflict: to impose social justice means the validity, the wisdom and the truth of equal justice has to be suppressed. If it won’t go silently, then it has to be alienated, labeled as hostile and threatened into submission. When equal justice is put down, there can be “social justice,” and everyone ends up on the same level – at least theoretically. There’s no longer rich and poor; everyone is the same. But that also means that everyone’s beliefs are the same. There’s none greater, there’s none smaller and that means that everyone’s god has to be the same.
To attain this goal, someone or a group of people must have the power to impose their way of thinking upon the populace. Some authority that considers themselves better equipped to decide for everyone else has to call the shots. For that person or group of people to put themselves in the position to enforce “social justice,” requires that they place themselves in a position that should be reserved solely for God. They are, in effect, assuming the role of being God, or to use a term from the story of Hanukkah, Epiphanes, which means, “god manifest.” The struggle we are currently witnessing is the essence of the story of Hanukkah.
The question posed to those people in Modi’in, so many years ago was, “Who are you going to serve?” That same question is being posed to us, today. Are we going to serve the One God? Are we going to obey His Word and hold fast to His principles or are we going to conform to the edicts of “social justice” and pantheistic philosophy? To the best of our ability and as He gives us strength, we need to stand bravely in the defense of what is true. There is only One God and He alone has the authority to define justice. He alone has the authority to determine what is right and what is wrong. And He’s the only One who truly cares for us regardless of our social status.
Those who were known as the Maccabees were called such because their rallying cry was a particular quote from the book of Exodus which, in Hebrew, says, “Mi kamocha Ba’elim Adonai” (“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?”) (Exodus 15:11). Who indeed is like Him? And so, who are we going to serve? Be true to His principles and refuse to give into the whims and ideals of a culture that wants everyone to be the same.