On Friday night, March 11, 2011, five family members from Itamar settlement were found killed in their residence in the West Bank. The police suspects that a Palestinian terrorist entered the house and stabbed the whole family. The terrorist killed the father, the mother, and three children. The shocking news is that the children are 11 years old, 3 years and 3 months old. This cruel inhuman violent action must be condemned and rejected by all Palestinians. Terrorism is not the best path in our torn country.
Biblical ethics require that we show commitment to the following elements. First, we are committed to biblical love. God wants us to love all the people including our enemies. Jesus has told us, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” . . . “do good to those who hate you” (Matt 5: 44; Luke 6: 27). Love opens the channels of communication. We must talk to our enemies instead of killing them. Second, we are committed to justice just like the persistent widow (Luke 18: 1 – 8). She troubled the unjust leaders by insisting on justice. If an unjust judge listened to an insignificant widow, how much more will the Just God listen to the cries of His children. Justice is either administered by God directly (Rom 12: 19) or by God’s agents who have the authority to punish the evil doers (Rom 13: 4). Revenge and spilling the blood of innocent children is never the Christian way. It must be condemned. Third, we are committed to human dignity. All people are created in the image of God (Gen 1: 26 – 27). Everyone’s dignity is derived from the dignity of God himself and we must see the face of God in every human being. Anyone who kills another human being must be punished because a human being is created in God’s image (Gen 9: 6) and attacking another human being is an attack on God himself. Killing the children of Israeli settlers is as evil as killing Palestinian children. Both are an attack on God himself. Fourth, we are committed to non-violence. Jesus has taught us:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles (Matt 5: 38 – 41).
The text wants us to resist evil with good (Rom 12: 21). We are called to resist physical abuse, looting our possessions, and abandoning our freedom of choice. Whenever an evil person strikes we must engage the striker instead of acting like him or her. Whenever the looter steals we must consider the value of the stealer in the eyes of God and value it more than the possessions. Whenever our freedom is lost due to oppression we must walk the second mile in order to reveal the love of God. Violence breeds violence but peace-making is the path of a better world. Fifth, we are committed to protecting the children. It is unacceptable to take the lives of Israeli children in the name of a political program or ideology. This is utter evil. Children must have the right to develop to the fullest, to be protected from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation, let alone brutal massacres. We have to build a better future for our Palestinian and Israeli children. Bloodshed is not the right path. Sixth, we are committed to defend the oppressed. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed”(Luke 4: 18). The oppressed ones need freedom from the devil as well as from his agents who use evil to spread a kingdom of violence instead of a Kingdom of Justice and peace. Seventh, we are committed to share the land with Israelis in a fair and just political solution. God has called both Palestinians and Israelis to live in this land. A Jew is a gift from God and a Palestinian is also a gift from God. Unless we rejoice in God’s gifts we will continue to exclude each other and kill one another. Let us stand together for Justice and peace for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Last but not least, I send my sincere condolences to the relatives of the killed family in Itamar and I pray that our country will be healed from the spilling of innocent blood.
Rev. Yohanna Katanacho, Ph.D.
The problem I have with the "Justice" movement is that: a. It seeks justice from others, b. It does not answer the question of how far back you go for justice (do you seek justice for the land that was taken by force from some of my Arab friends' families, if so, do I also get justice for my grandmother's first husband that was murdered? What about the Jews that were refugees from the Arab countries? Etc)
I do not think we, humans, can seek justice in a just way. Our responsibility is not to seek justice from other people, but we are responsible to do justice ourselvs. God is just, and in His time he will bring His justice to the earth.
Blessings in Yeshua,
I am glad that you agree that we are responsible to live in a just way. Let me expand the circle of our responsibility. Are we responsible that our children behave in a just way towards each other? Are we responsible to advocate a system in which our church members behave in a just way towards each other? Are we responsible to advocate a system in which our co-citizens, or others who live with us in our country, behave in a just ways towards each other? I believe that the answer is yes to all of the above.
As for contextualizing justice for our specific situation, we need to distinguish between absolute justice that can only be found in God and relative justice. It is our responsibility to help the oppressed and empower them as much as possible. The killers of the babies need to be brought to court and be punished. This will not restore the lives of the murdered innocent babies, but it will affirm that we advocate a just society not anarchy.
The state need to keep a standard of right and wrong, any state. It is called the law. Many time laws are un-just. As individual believers, we cannot always know what is just and what is not, since we do not know all details of every case, therefore we trust the system. That is nessecary, but it is also problematic, since the "system", any system in this world, is not God's system, but men's. The Bible tells us not to trust in men. So, we have to obay, as long as it does not contradict God's law, but we do not have to trust.
Justice is an elusive term, that as you said, in this world it is not absolute. Even our own understanding of it, since we are sinful men, is tainted. So, yes, we do have to teach our children and our churches, and ourselves to be just, and dmend to a degree, from our governments to be just. But, we have to be careful, that is each one of us as individual, not to think that we can execute justice, since justice demands judging and punishing. We do have to do that in the places where authority was given to us, like at our families and churches, but we have to be carfull not to do that in areas where authority was not given to us. Justice means a trial and judgement. Each one of us will stand before God. That includes powers and principalities. I do pray that when I stand there, mercy will be given and not just justice. So, while it is our responsibility to teach our families and churches justice, I believe our greater duty is to teach them love and mercy, since this is the only ground by which we stand before God.
I think that this is ludicrous and if this is the standard that faithful Christians subscribed to, no one would’ve taken a stand against slavery and human rights etc ... ( we as Christians have a DUTY to advocate justice and condemn any acts of injustice PUBLICLY)
The other point that seems to be missed here is that these concepts (at least from a Christian point of view) of freedom, justice, honor, mercy cannot be looked in isolation but need to be looked at holistically in order to fully appreciate them (just look at the cross).
The Bible says, Follow Justice and justice alone (Deut 16: 20) . . . For I, the Lord, love justice (Is 61: 8). In fact, justice is the foundation of God’s kingdom (Ps 97: 1, 2). God expects us to do justice. Micah says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To do Justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6: 8). God expects responsible leaders to advocate justice (Deut 1: 10 – 18). And God’s will is to appoint just judges to rule the people (Deut 16: 18). The prophets challenged the rules to exercise justice (See for example Jer 22: 2 – 5 or read the story of Nathan and David or the story of Ehab). They wanted to make sure that justice is practiced for all the people especially the weak and marginalized. I think that this is an important topic to understand. Our ministry is futile if it is not rooted in justice that expresses itself in vertical and horizontal righteousness. Righteousness is not only for the individual but also for the community and even for the systems that represent the communities. As Christians we cannot ignore social justice. It is at the core of our relationship with God. I encourage my readers to read the following references:
Henrickx, Herman. Social Justice in the Bible (Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 1985)
May, James L. “Justice: Perspectives from the Prophetic Tradition’, in David Peterson, ed. Prophecy in Israel: Search for an Identity (London: SPCK; Philaderphia: Fortress, 1987), pp. 144 – 158.
Wright, Christopher. Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (Downer Grove: InterVarsity, 2004), 253-280.
I am all for justice, righteousness, and caring for the weak and marginal, as anybody who knows me and my work through the years would testify.
In theory, claiming to know what is Gods justice is very easy, and sometime also not in theory, but since executing justice demands a judgement of the situation, and we many times do not know all the details, sometimes when we trybto execute judgement, we actually behave in an unjust way.
Let me give you an hypothetical situation to illustrate the complexity of the choice. Let's say, Usama Bin Ladan is found. Him and his commanders are living on the third floor of a five story building, when the second and forth floors are huge weapon catches and on the first and fifth floor live normal families with twelve children each. They may know, or not know what the rest of the house is used for. American commanders choose to attack and kill Usama. While doing so the weapon catch also explodes and everybody in the house is killed, including the two families with the twenty four children. Victory! Shout the headlinesin the US, We brought Justice to Usama! Murder! Shout the headlines in Afganistan, Again the US mudrered innocent children! What a great injustice!
Which one behaved in a Justice way? Is it so clear? The Bible says "an eye for an eye", the law demands that Usama pays for his crimes, but small children were killed, and that is against not just human sensibility, but also many laws.
Different people, also believers, who understand justice differently will be very strong in advocating that one of the headlines is right. Unfortunately, I do not think it is that simple, and whoever says it is simple is oversimplifying a complicated situation and by doing so, he is doing injustice to the situation and the people involved.
I think, that as humans, we have to be a bit more humble and except the fact that there is a lot that we do not understand about many things. Our comfort is that God understands, and in situations where we do not know all the details, he will judge and execute justice.
I am glad that His execution of justice is done with lots of mercy and grace.
“In theory, claiming to know what is Gods 'mercy' is very easy, and sometime also not in theory, but since executing 'mercy' demands a judgement of the situation, and we many times do not know all the details, sometimes when we try to execute 'mercy', we actually behave in an 'unmerciful' way.”
Since we can’t know or understand any topic fully we should just be passive and not stand up for justice or be merciful and so on!!!
Who is going to be the Bonhoeffer of this generation (who stood against the German Nazism) if they subscribe to this type of argument?
leaving us the responsibility to forgive and love and not take revenge according to the Law.
The violent death of the family in the Itamar Settlement was deeply shocking and filed us all with sadness. This dreadful evil act cannot in any way be justified by any human being. It is certainly not an act of God but of a murdering heart. We have been praying for the relatives and friends of the family who died so brutally.
I can't believe that so many so called evangelical Christians believe this EXTREME view that is at best 150 years old and only started gaining momentum in the last 50 years.
There must have been so many unintelligent Christians that lived throughout the ages!!!!
I challenge you to reexamine the word of God without any prejudice and see where in scripture it talks about reestablishing the NATION of Israel.
The passages using the entire bible are too numerous to bring out in a short space. I think you are proving the points that I made. It seems that a worldly political view (narrowed to leave out the real Arab and Jewish history in the region) is keeping you from even seriously considering what I said. Contending for worldly advantage, in this case the “land of Palestine”, is always detrimental to the Christian, Arab or otherwise. I would only hope you would undertake a serious study of these issues and not just accept the traditions of men.
The only other comment that I make is that one needs to read this without any prior prejudice or at least an acknowledgment of any prior prejudice or it is best not to read it.