“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.” Tarantino
Contrary to what you may have learned from Pulp Fiction, this pithy summary of God’s judgment is nowhere to be found in the Bible, let alone the book of Ezekiel. However, this cooked-up verse would be right at home in the Minor Prophets, who are not above popping a verbal cap in the butt of the unrighteous.
The same goes for God. If you’ve ever heard the chipper song from Godspell, “Pre-ee-ee-pare ye the way of the Lord,” you might be tempted to think that God’s established justice on the day of the Lord would be kinda fun. Au contrere, mon hipster frère—for Amos and friends, the day of the Lord is a dark time. The earth shakes, people die, and the sun disappears.
Not that God is planning to wait. A foreign power declares war on your country? Clearly you deserve it. Your crops not up to snuff? God is judging you. Long before Buddha sat under a Bodhi tree, Minor Prophets were preaching their version of karma in the Middle East.
Questions About Justice and Judgment
- What does justice mean to the Minor Prophets?
- In Habakkuk 2:4, what does it mean that “the just shall live by his faith.”
- According to the Minor Prophets, do bad things really happen to good people?
- Is the God of the Minor Prophets unjust? Do his punishments fit the crime?