Posts Tagged ‘Justice of God’

Psalm 9 in context © Image by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:15-17 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 6

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. In this series I have placed words in David’s mouth but sought to remain true to what Psalm 9 and the Bible actually says about God. I hope this last episode will add to your understanding of a loving and just God.

DAVID: “The needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.”    

SKEPTIC: OK. I get that, but what I am talking about is that you pray that God will destroy your enemies. What has that got to do with the poor and needy?

DAVID: What I am saying is that God never forgets those who suffer because of evil, cruel, intolerant, violent and unjust people, people with the very characteristics that you ascribe to God. The poor and needy are destitute directly because of wicked people. They are emotionally defeated because they have been beaten down by evildoers. Justice, however, will eventually be served. 

Galatians 6:7 (NLT) says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.”

DAVID: “Arise, O Lord! Do not let mere mortals defy you! Judge the nations! Make them tremble in fear, O Lord. Let the nations know they are merely human. Interlude” (Psalm 9:18 NLT)   

SKEPTIC: Do you really think it is right to ask God to judge nations? 

DAVID: Yes. One day God will judge the world, but I pray that He will intervene into the present with His justice now. Innocent people are dying at the hands of my enemies.

I pray that people will fear God while there is still opportunity. God is a universally just judge. He is also a merciful Father, with whom we can have a loving relationship with joy and praise if we but realise that we are merely human and need Him in our lives. 

The nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others. Their own feet have been caught in the trap they set. The Lord is known for his justice. The wicked are trapped by their own deeds. Quiet Interlude   (Psalm 9:15, 16 NLT)  

SKEPTIC: Now you say that it’s not God’s fault that the nations are destroyed, but their own? Isn’t this shifting the blame? After all, God destroyed them, according to your Psalm.

DAVID: The Bible speaks about reaping what we sow. Those who sow violence against God and His people reap judgement. They experience the natural consequences of their choices sooner or later. 

In Aussie (Australian) terms, it’s the “boomerang” principle. It is true that God executes judgment, and also true that people are responsible for the consequences of the choices they make. Both principles are woven together to form the truth. It’s worth pondering.

Some people will never know God’s love and will never know Him as the God of salvation; they will only know Him as the God of judgment because of their choices.

Other people will come to know God personally because of a consideration of His judgment. They run to His offer of salvation (see POSB commentary) and come to know His love personally.

“The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.” (Psalm 9:17, NLT)

SKEPTIC: That’s exactly what I am talking about. Not only the wicked but anyone who doesn’t believe, dies.

DAVID: Yes, sooner or later. Death in the Bible always speaks of separation or being cut off. Physical death is separation of the soul and spirit from the body. Spiritual death is separation of a person from fulfilling the purposes of God and from a relationship with God, because of our sin. 

You can be alive physically but dead spiritually (separated from God). Many have died physically but are alive spiritually (in relationship with God in heaven). Many have died physically and are dead spiritually (and remain separated from God) because of their own choices. Which is why God is patient. 

PASTOR ROSS: 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

This is still true. God’s righteous character does not ignore sin as if it didn’t exist. His justice requires a price for sin. In order that His justice could be satisfied and we could be forgiven, God gave His Son as the sacrifice for our sin.

The POSB commentary expresses this well, “God’s redemption is available to all, but it is effective only for those who repent and receive Christ as Savior and Lord.”

Pastor Ross 

Part 5 – Matthew 12:14-21 – HEAL ME OR KILL ME BUT NOT THIS!

Bruised Reed!

As I talked with Nancy that day she said, “I pray to God every night and ask Him why He has been so unfair to me. Why did He leave me alive?” She is an elderly woman suffering the results of a stroke. She said “My Mother died of a stroke. Why didn’t He take me too, instead of leaving me like this? It is so unfair. Why is God so unfair?” Where is the JUSTICE of God when you end up with a stroke instead of dying in the process? How am I supposed to answer that?

In obedient response to Jesus a man with a deformed hand in Matthew 12:13 reaches out and is HEALED. Nancy blames God for NOT HEALING her and then NOT KILLING her. The Pharisees blame Jesus for HEALING on the Sabbath and they want to KILL Him (Matthew 12:14). Others gladly receive healing and restoration (Matthew 12:15). It seems God can’t please anyone! TO CARE OR NOT TO CARE – that is the question.

In Matthew 12:15 Jesus HEALS ALL THE SICK among them. How cool is this! My grandson would not have had a cold or tonsillitis if he had been there. My friend Fred would not have trouble walking because his arthritis would be gone and Alice would be able to breath properly again. Amelia would stretch out her stroke affected hand and not dribble food from the right side of her face.

So WHERE IS HE NOW? Do all these people somehow happen to be in the wrong century and the wrong country and is Jesus still in the “have LIFE TO THE FULL” business or is it now the “LIFE WHICH IS CRUEL” business? Has He CHANGED His purpose? Is He now into STROKES! Perhaps a few “RANDOM ACTS OF BLINDNESS, arthritis and dementia”?

What about Nancy? She would say to God “HEAL ME OR KILL ME BUT NOT THIS!” I can’t help but take that one step further and ask why is it that Nancy can be so insistent about not including God in her life and then blame Him when things go wrong? Is God TAKING IT OUT on Nancy? Or is it Nancy who is being UNFAIR? What would it look like if God was really fair according to our standards?

In Matthew 12:20 (NLT) a prophecy from Isaiah about Jesus is given. It says “He will NOT CRUSH THE WEAKEST (or BRUISED) REED OR PUT OUT A FLICKERING CANDLE. Finally He will cause JUSTICE to be victorious. And His Name will be the HOPE of all the world.”

So let me get this right. Why did He come? He came for a number of reasons but essentially He comes to give me HOPE in a world that is BRUISED by injustice and pain. He comes to heal, not to break the “BRUISED REED”. He comes to RESTORE my life when I am hurt and crushed by life’s experiences, discouraged to the point of giving up, and depressed to the max. He comes to encourage me when I am weak and my motivation for life is a “FLICKERING CANDLE”.

And then when I see Him for who He is I can’t do anything but care for others also. I am able to put Thessalonians 5:11-14 into practise “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another … encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (NASB95)

I prayed with Nancy that day, that God would show her His purposes for her life as well as heal her. I assured her that God wasn’t into giving people strokes or into killing them. That was more the kind of thing Satan would do, not God. In John 8:44 Jesus says that Satan “… was a murderer from the beginning…” (NLT). In John 10:10 (NIV) Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the FULL.” So Jesus makes it clear that His purpose is not to TAKE something from us that we have, but to RESTORE something to us that has been stolen.

Will Nancy be healed? I don’t know. I don’t have the full picture of what God is doing. I do know that I can experience life to the full as I know Jesus personally, whatever circumstances I face. “He will not break the bruised reed” (Matthew 12:20). I have HOPE in Him.

God bless you Church as you make a choice to respond to God and come under His authority rather than blame Him for what goes wrong. I can see a distorted picture of Him through the glasses of my circumstances and sin, or I can seek Jesus in my pain and begin to see Him for who He really is. In Him there is always HOPE.

Pastor Ross