So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. Habakkuk 1:4
What comes to your mind when you think of justice? You may think of the justice that is needed in the courtroom. The law must be upheld. This is one very important expressions of justice. Another way to think of justice is to consider the biblical mandate to pursue justice. God has created us for community. The pandemic and the response to the pandemic have highlighted the need we have as people to live in community. One of the most severe forms of punishment is isolation. For people to thrive in community, justice is needed. A quick search of the word “justice” in the NIV produces 132 hits. One example is Leviticus 19:15. Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. This concept is found all through Scripture and is clearly expressed in James as well (see 1:26-27 for example). The Law given to Moses for the chosen people was to ensure justice. Habakkuk observes that the opposite has happened. Justice is perverted because of a lack of adherence to the law. As Moses was preparing the people to enter the Promised Land, he said this: Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 16:20). What Habakkuk does not yet know is that the people will be removed from their land. That will be made known in the unfolding of the oracle. The lack of justice will ensure that the people will no longer possess the land. God is getting ready to bring justice. He notices the perversion of it as well.