Two months ago, Ahmaud Arbery was brutally murdered in a Georgia neighborhood by two White men. Sadly, the video recording of this injustice just went viral on social media a few days ago and the two men were just arrested.
Since the disturbing video of Ahmaud being murdered went viral, another video of him walking into a house being constructed has also gone viral. Sadly, these two videos have compelled many to scream in outrage on social media attempting to justify why Ahmaud deserved to be murdered in cold blood and why two “god-fearing” White men deserve to be protected.
Concerning the video of Ahmaud being murdered to the video of him minutes before walking inside of a construction site, I believe one of many reasons those who think he deserved what happened to him is because they don’t understand what Justice actually means, Biblically.
What does Biblical justice mean?
According to Timothy Keller in his book, Generous Justice, Biblical Justice means care for the vulnerable. This includes Refugees, Immigrants, the Poor, the Fatherless, Unborn babies, Widows, Orphans, AND PEOPLE OF COLOR—including Ahmaud Arbery.
Now, the Hebrew word for “justice,” (mishpat), occurs in its various forms more than 200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its most basic meaning is to treat people equitably. In other words, it means acquitting or punishing every person on the merits of the case, regardless of race or social status.
Anyone who does the same wrong should be given the same penalty. However, “justice” (mishpat) means more than just the punishment of wrongdoing–it also means giving people their rights.
Biblical Justice (mishpat), then, means GIVING PEOPLE WHAT THEY ARE DUE, WHETHER PUNISHMENT OR PROTECTION OF CARE. Not one or the other like many fail to falsely believe today.
This is why, if you look at every place the word “Justice” (mishpat) is used in the Old Testament, several classes of persons continually come up. Over and over again, mishpat describes taking up the care and cause of widows, orphans, immigrants—Including the poor—those who have been called “the quartet of the vulnerable.” This also includes today, people of color. The mishpat, or justness, of a society, according to the Bible, is evaluated by how it treats these groups.
Any neglect shown to the needs of the members of this quartet is not called merely a lack of mercy or charity but a violation of justice (mishpat). God loves those with the least social power and so should we. That is what Biblical justice means on its most basic level theologically.
How does Biblical Justice apply to what happened to Ahmaud Arbery?
Minutes before Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed, what we know is he walked into a house that was under construction. Therefore, according to Biblical Justice, at the most extreme Ahmaud should have only been asked to leave the site and (hypothetically speaking) his mother should’ve been called to pick him up if he “refused to leave.” This is at the most extreme. That’s it! Nothing more.
It’s not Biblical Justice to chase Ahmaud down like prey, shoot, and murder him. This is INJUSTICE. And frankly, PURE EVIL. And, in all honesty, racism.
When it comes to the two White men who shot and murdered Ahmaud Arbery, Biblical justice would say they deserve a fair trial, to be counted guilty of murder, and sentenced to prison because Ahmaud didn’t do anything remotely close to deserving murder from a gun. And sadly, this should’ve happened a couple of months ago not a couple of days ago
In conclusion, based on what has been shown in the videos, injustice and murder have happened to the life of Ahmaud Arbery, not Biblical Justice. Things need to be made right. He and his family deserve justice. He shouldn’t have died and people of color shouldn’t be afraid to go for a jog. Period.
By Rondell Treviño
Founder, The immigration Coalition