I have been having a conversation with a person online about the way the Lord has judged the earth since its creation. It has them seeing that God is a monster – one who carries out genocide (the world-wide flood) of any who cross Him. When I talked about His holiness and the fact that those who died had had time to repent and did not, they told me they would not have killed all those people and left a small band of others on an ark. But they did not say what they WOULD do to those who were killing and hurting others, having turned away from the very God who had made them.
We all want to understand God’s justice. We are all so ready to judge a God who is “wholly other” than us, perfect in all His essence. Perfectly: holy, loving, merciful, righteous, patient, kind, good, faithful. In our fallenness we presume we understand what WE would do. But WE did not speak an entire universe into existence, setting stars, moon and sun in their exact courses to separate night from day, seasons and years. We did not create an earth full of every plant, mineral, animal, or gas that would ever be needed to sustain the lives of the very creatures He created and placed His soul in and image on – humankind. We did not provide the breathe of life to these humans, give them the entire Garden full of food and light, water and dirt. We did not create a perfectly suited team of mankind to work together and have a intimate relationship with us. Providing everything, being ever-present, giving all of Himself to finite persons with His image stamped on them.
And they then choose to believe another creature instead of him – one who questioned all God’s goodness. This one called into doubt that God had their best interests in mind – maybe He was even holding out on greater things. This creature told them this one fruit in acres and acres of fruit was the key to being “like God”. As if God was not already enough in all His perfectness – they needed to add to Him in their lives. This creature, the serpent, was the true monster. It had never done anything for them – never provided or helped in any way to create the perfect Eden they lived in. They believed the one creature and ate the forbidden fruit.
What does God do? He confronts by asking questions, seeking to help His beautifully-created human team discover their need of coming clean. But the relationship was so affected by their choice to eat from this one tree, that they only blamed Him, each other, and the serpent. They never acknowledged that they had not BELIEVED the only One who had faithfully had their back – their very life. I see Him sorrowfully pronouncing the curses (consequences) for their choice – hard labor, relationship war, distance from their God. Then He created skins, by killing animals to show them what it cost creation for their lack of belief. Death and dying were now part of the “natural” order in a once perfect world created by a perfect God. God is NOT a monster.
Some might say that if He was perfect He would have know all this would happen, and stopped it. This is where His love is tied in with His sovereignty and justice. He knew what they would choose, but love means there must be a choice to be loved back in the face of true testing. He wanted these humans to choose what was good, right, true – Himself. He wanted them to see the beauty of their relationship with Him, trusting His goodness. When you have no other options is it really a choice? So the tree stood to test their love for Him and the proven intimate relationship He made them for with Him. God is NOT a Monster.
When they chose to NOT believe, He let them. This is love. Then He reminded them of the choice’s consequence – physical death and eternal separation from Him at that death. But He also gave them a promise of one who would come to crush the serpent – the monster who had deceived them – and conquer death’s curse. It would come from Eve’s seed – God still had plans for humankind to be the line through which He would restore what they had broken in a moment of disbelief. Then He put them out of the Garden. No longer able to walk with God in the cool of the day, eat of the plenteous fruit, easily working the soil to bring forth more. Life becomes infinitely harder than it had been- in every way.
God’s justice is part of His very character, but always in perfect balance with all the rest of who He is. He knew mankind could never make right the wrong done in the Garden, so He put into place the plan He had made before the foundation of the world. His wrath for sin as a holy God must be absorbed but that could only be done by a perfect “man”. Adam had proven he wasn’t that man. God, the Son, was born into humanity to be that “man”(Romans 5). Jesus was perfect the God/man to undo the effects of the Fall – to bring humankind back to right relationship with God. His blood was shed for this very purpose – death to cover all our sin, from the Garden to His second return. God’s wrath was fully poured out on Jesus on the cross. Jesus became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. This is justice understood from the lens of God’s holiness, grace, mercy, love.
God is NOT a Monster. He can’t be put in a box. He transcends our understanding of who He is, what He does, and why He does it. In Job 38-41(read it to gain context) God tells Job just that. “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?” (Job 38:36) and then “Who has a claim against Me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to Me.” (Job 40:11) And yet He pours out His wrath on His only Son – fully God and man – on the ONLY ONE WHO DIDN’T DESERVE WHAT HE WAS GETTING. And we gain all the blessings in the heavenly realm that belong to Jesus when we believe in Him to save us from ourselves. (Ephesians 1:3-14). God’s justice poured out on Jesus. And WE complain about Him being a monster and out of touch or just plain wrong in His judgments.
That pesky “heavenly math” gets in the way of our claims.
I share all this because it used to be a very hard thing for me to grasp as a sexual abuse survivor. I have had to trudge through hours and days and years of reading His Word, praying, and seeking the counsel of others to explain all this to me. His sovereignty that allowed my wounds to take place coupled with my desire to make sure the one who hurt me paid for their sin – their complete wrecking of my person for their wants. Now, at age 50 years and counting, this truth of His justice enables me to rest in all He is – for me and through me – to others who also need help to grasp these truths, so they can heal and grow forward with confidence in Christ and without fear.
His justice is a sure thing. The Garden, the Flood, the Cross – all indicators of His faithfulness to avenge His holiness for His glory and for our restoration and healing. It is trustworthy because He is. God is NOT a Monster.
- What is your story in relation to understanding His justice
- Where are you in the journey to believing and accepting His plan for justice as good?
- How does knowing He has always lovingly and patiently carried out justice in the Word, help you trust Him?
- Do you want to make plans to grow in this area?
- Do you need a like-minded traveler to teach and encourage you?
- Can I be that person for you?
- Let me know.