Rejoicing in the Justice of God
In Psalm 94:4-7, the psalmist asks some very understandable questions about those who practice evil toward others and yet seem to prosper: “O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, 'The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.'"
So these people think they have it made. And by all earthly standards, they often do. That’s part of what makes their wickedness so unbearable. Instead of punishment, they often enjoy profit. They have big houses and nice cars and seem to enjoy such prosperity.
However, as we go through the rest of the psalm, we find numerous assurances that God will bring justice in his own timing. The psalm closes with verse 23: “He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out.” The main point? Justice delayed is not justice denied.
All of this should remind us of something many people don’t understand: God’s justice in doing all of this is a good thing. It’s a quality of God that’s inextricably bound up with his goodness. It’s not a blemish on God’s character or something we need to mask or hide in an effort to make God more acceptable to people.
A lot of Christians seem to be a sort of embarrassed by God’s justice and hesitant to talk about it. And yet, God’s not embarrassed by his justice. Have you ever thought about that? He makes no effort whatsoever to hide what he intends to do with the wicked. In passage after passage in the Bible, he tells us exactly what things will look like as he exercises his justice. So instead of treating God’s justice like some kind of pimple on an otherwise spotless face, I believe we can actually worship God for his justice.
This past week, I visited a little girl in the hospital. Her family is close friends with one of the families of our church, and they requested that I come and visit. And the reason this girl was in the hospital was because she was the victim of a hit and run accident and had internal bleeding on her brain and elsewhere and had several broken bones. She was in the car with her grandmother, and her grandmother had a green light to turn left, though not a green arrow. However, her grandmother looked up the street and saw that the truck that was coming was a good distance away, so she started to make the left turn. But unfortunately, her wheels had trouble getting traction in the rain not once but twice, so that slowed her down a little bit. And with the good amount of distance between her and the oncoming truck, that shouldn’t have been an issue. But the truck was speeding down the road at an estimated 70 miles an hour and didn’t even slow down. And so this truck actually ended up t-boning the car with this little girl and her grandmother inside. And then, being the upstanding citizen that he is, the driver of the truck just drove away. Fortunately, the driver left a trail of radiator fluid that the police were able to follow to where he parked he truck, and they arrested him on the spot. He’ll probably be charged several felonies related to the incident.
And I’ll be honest with you. I’m glad we have a legal system that will prosecute that man and make sure he’s held accountable for his actions. Of course, I hope God uses this to get his attention and even lead him to salvation. But at the same time, I believe it’s right for him to be held accountable for ways in which he violated the law. There’s something right and good about that.
Imagine what a nightmare our society would be if we didn’t have a reliable justice system. Society would be unlivable. And just as we recognize that a properly functioning justice system is a good and right thing in human society, we should also recognize that it’s a good and right quality for God to possess as well. We need him to be that way.
Think about what life would be like if God weren’t that way. It would be a nightmare. It would make North Korea look like Disney World. Because the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, might be unjust, but he only has limited capabilities as a human being. He’s just a man. But if a god of infinite power were unjust, things would be exponentially worse with no hope of escape or change. Thankfully, God’s not that way at all. He is just, and he’s committed to uphold justice without any kind of partiality.
And as I mentioned before, I believe God’s justice is inextricably bound to his goodness. It’s part of his goodness and an extension of his goodness. You see, for God to be good doesn’t mean that he’s just this nice, sweet old grandfatherly figure who takes you out for ice cream. True goodness also means being willing to stand against evil and against those who perpetrate evil.
I don’t know about you, but I’m so thankful that we get to worship a God who is truly good. I’m so thankful that the One who sits on the throne of this universe is a God of perfect justice. And even though for some reason he’s allowing all kinds of evil to take place right now and evildoers are able to strut around thinking they’ve got it made, there will come a day when this God will right every wrong and exact every outstanding debt and balance the scales of justice. That’s a God worthy to be worshiped.