Justice also will I make the measuring line, and righteousness the plumb line: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (Isaiah 28:17 KJ2000)
Righteousness, says Isaiah is the plumbline; it defines perfect moral straightness and integrity with relationship to God. Justice, on the other hand says Isaiah, is the measuring line. It measures horizontally between man and man. To act with justice means to act in equity, integrity, and morality toward other men.
In the beginning God gave us his Law in written form in order to enlighten our understanding with respect to living righteously before him and with justice toward men. The first five commandments give broad directions for living righteously before God. 1) The first commands us to have no god besides Yahweh, the LORD; 2) the second commands to make and serve no idols, no representations of God; 3) the third commands us not the take the LORD’s name in vain (today millions take our LORD Christ’s name in vain by calling themselves Christians. They will be among those to whom Jesus says, “I never knew you!”); 4) the fourth command enjoins us to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy; and 5) the fifth commands us to honor our parents (We must honor our parents for they stand in the place of God to us when we are young. God defines proper order through this and it relates to the “fear of the LORD). All five of these first of the Ten Commandments define a righteous relationship with God.
The second set of the Ten Commandments instead deal with our just relationships with our fellow men. 1) The first, command number six, says “you shall not kill;” 2) the second says, “you shall not commit adultery (all forms of fornication, including homosexual acts are included in this prohibition); 3) the third of the second set says, “You shall not steal;” 4) the fourth prohibits lying; and 5) the fifth prohibits coveting, or lusting after your neighbors’ possessions. Notice how all five of these commands deal with person to person relationships.
Now consider that the Law defines God’s conception of “truth,” his exact requirements regarding our relationship to him and other men. We see specific examples of the application of this Law, however, which now affend our sensibilities, which now do not appear to be merciful. This includes the example of the man stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. God began the revelation of his Word by giving us his Law before he revealed his great mercy. This is because mercy, unbridled by the Law of truth, is lawless. It allows anything, requires no accountability, and leads to the destruction of the world. We see the effects of unbridled mercy, called grace, in all the Western world today. Here sin and lawlessness reign as men exalt their vileness. But, God revealed truth in the form of law to inform those who would one day be qualified to rule this world. These ones, these elohim, these overcomers, have been prepared from the beginning of the world. They will wield God’s truth (God’s rod of iron) in mercy. This is that which will sweep away men’s refuge of lies in which they dwell.