|Posted by Asa on January 3, 2015 at 2:15 PM|
I see a nice person - is it fair that if that person doesn't trust in Jesus, he or she is punished for their sins? Jeremiah 29:10-14 is all about God's love & mercy in salvation from captivity. But after this, it goes into God's judgement for those who reject Him and His offer of forgiveness. At first, reading this, it didn't seem like it was the same God. But this shows His justice, which raises a question: is justice good? Deuteronmy 32:4 says that all God's works are right but the word describing God as righteous literally means 'just'. What this reveals is that His justice is an aspect of His righteousness. ‘God is love’ - we only have a measurement of love & His ways are so much higher than ours (Psalm 103:11), so how can we expect to fully understand His justice anyway? Our perspective is limited – I mean, try telling the judge that ‘Justice is a crime’.
To answer the question fully though, let's look at Jesus. Jesus paid the price, dying on a cross for our sins according to God's word. If God Himself would pay the price for sin when He doesn't even deserve to, this shows His justice is perfect and flawless. Otherwise, He would have just saved us by His mercy without coming in our image to pay the price for us, the ones who owe Him. THAT'S LOVE!! So even though God's justice doesn't benefit those who will pay - it's necessary and good in the same way court systems are, even though the convicted prisoners wouldn't agree. We who know what's coming should therefore be making it our main mission to let people know of what's ahead. Therefore, the fact that He paid the price shows He is just in His Goodness & Love as a part of His perfect character & flawless nature.
There is a Scottish phrase on the side of some pound coins, 'Nemo Me Impune Lacessit', which means 'no one can harm me unpunished'. It got me to ask myself, why do we have this justice in us? – Why do we have judges? Why do we have police? Why do electric chairs and prison cells exist? It’s for good – we need justice. God has built justice into us so that we can make conscious decisions to punish according to a magnitute of the wrong or immoral action. Ezekiel 33:12-20 talks of God’s justice which says that if a righteous man commits a sin, his righteousness is forgotten and his sin, remembered (like with Rolf Harris). But you see the second side of the coin in verse 15, which says that if a wicked man does right, his iniquity is forgotten and righteousness remembered, showing God is perfectly just. But what really opens our eyes to the mercy and compassion in His justice is seen in what He offers us. He is offering to give us Righteousness, Salvation & Life.
It says in Romans 13:14 that He offers to clothe us in Christ’s righteousness. In Colossians 2:14 it shows He is willing to throw away the requirements, as Jesus has ticked each box & fulfilled each one in His perfection. The ‘Robe of Righteousness’ (in Isaiah 61:10) is what God is holding out for each sinner. We accept to pay the price through our sin, failure to trust in God & even trust in our own righteousness (verse 13). The end of verse 13 says that the one who trusts in His own righteousness will ‘die’ but the one who ‘restores the pledge’ and repents will ‘surely live’! So God is fair in His judgement. But it is clear from verse 11 that God doesn't want us to face justice without mercy. God says "turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die…?", showing Death is a requirement that God wants us to be free from, through Christ. So when you or I ask, 'why should we die for sins?', remember God asks the same question here in this verse as He too wants us to live but does what is good and right even when against His desire to save, like with Jesus when He wanted the cup to pass from Him in the garden of Eden. God's will was for Christ to die for our sins and it is clear that He wants the cup to pass from us too which is why there is a Heaven & a Way out in Christ. What really should amaze us more than His judgement is the fact that it was the Father's will for Christ to die, but isn't His will for us to.
Joel 2 starts by talking of the darkness of the Day of Judgement saying, “the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” But then it goes on to reveal something else immediately after in the next verse (12) as God says this:
“Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “turn to Me with all your heart…Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”
This also clearly shows that God doesn't desire for us to receive judgement. The fact that He does judge, however, reveals that He is not driven by the wind. His ways are so much higher than ours. He doesn't get dragged along by His desires like we do. He does only what is good & right. Would the world be any better if we knew there wouldn't be any judgement after this life where we have free will to kill, steal & destroy? So although He is merciful & has made a way out, He is also just. Sin cannot be stolen, it must be paid for. Imagine you steal something from the shop & the shopkeeper takes his money out of his pocket & offers the choice that either he pays for you or you pay. That's fair if you end up paying at the end of the day whether you're smiling at the thought of it or not. God is fair and so is His judgement.
R.C. Sproul said, “The question is not, ‘why is there only one way to God?’ but ‘why is there even one way?’". God in His love is offering to forgive you and me, yet we judge the Judge and question whether He is doing right. We have to look at ourselves & see that we punish criminals, even with death sentences in some cases. Justice is almost a natural law which needs to be in place for there to be order. So if you’re really worried about God’s just judgement and if you’re really worried about Hell, make sure you don’t go there!