As you read the title, it’s likely that you were reminded of the image of a younger child, whining to a parent about how something wasn’t fair. Or maybe, you were reminded of the last time you thought something was extraordinarily unfair. Or, you might have been reminded of song lyrics, or the saying “Life isn’t fair”, or–maybe you didn’t really think anything and just decided to start reading and find out what it meant. Well, it could be a lot of the above. You be reminded of our previous post on God’s justice, but this post is firstly more in-depth (as you never would have guessed), and secondly uses more direct examples, explaining why exactly the things that happen are fair, or, at least, they are just. The “fairness” of the world has always been an issue for everyone, as humanity has strived to make life fair as possible (ahem–fair as humanly possible, being the core of the problem), and governments have been founded to promote justice. And what is the only thing that is truly fair and rightly just? I think you know.
The Lord has been bringing justice to the world as long as there has been a world. In saying that, there have been many cases which may leave many wondering how justice was served, or such a thing was right, and often those questions concern 1 of 2 scenarios: your life, or the lives of the Israelites (Don’t worry–I plan on going over both).
As far as the Israelites go, it never seemed in the bible that they could stay faithful to God for longer than two politicians can go without shifting blame. But here’s the thing: God forgave them. He constantly had to deal with the cycle of apostasy: the Israelites would fall away from God, then get into trouble, then call on God, then get rescued, then worship God, then fall away and start over again. In some cases, thankfully, it didn’t always involve the Israelites’ near desolation. There are a lot of examples, though, of God not only rebuking Israel, his people, but other nations. Many will point out that other nations’ people, all of them, couldn’t have all known about the God of Israel. The thing is, they didn’t have to know.
Have you ever been punished for something that you didn’t do? Or, especially, have you been punished as a group when you didn’t do anything. I remember personally back in grade school, whenever I had a loud or talkative class, that the rewards would be taken from everyone, not just the main culprits of the greater noise. The teachers often even knew who the main motor-mouths were, but more often than not, they would punish all despite this. They didn’t want to risk the group mentality. That’s something like how God operated in that day and age. Nations like Babylon, Moab, or Ammon worshipped other gods and idols, but those surrounding Israel (note that due to Israel’s central location, there were quite a few) knew about Israel’s god. It’s important that we realized these people, as a nation, rejected the one true God for others. The alternative?
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountainand give them joy in my house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:6-7
I think God made it pretty clear that other peoples were certainly to be accepted if they decided to follow the Lord. Every time God punished a nation for their unrighteousness, that nation would have known fully well what they were doing. It’s not necessarily true that every individual would have known that they should have been worshipping the Lord, but it was the nation as a whole that had to be punished. On the other hand, it should
Why? God had to keep his kingdom holy, and to preserve his name. When nations defied God and defiled his name in everything they could, competing for the sovereign kingdom, they were asking for it. The Lord had established his holy kingdom in Israel, which is why he had to keep the Israelites on their toes with specific rules and regulations. God had a relationship with the people only as whole, in a relatively impersonal way. With the relationship, he was glorified. Today, we glorify God on a personal level of acceptance, so that God has a relationship with each and every individual, so it isn’t necessary to execute judgement on the scale of an entire nation. So, was it fair to punish nations outside of Israel, sometimes by killing thousands? It’s slightly more complicated, perhaps, than we think but it was absolutely fair. If there was any doubt, it was decided by the ultimate and righteous judge, the Lord.
So Part 2 of all this our modern-day lives following the life of Christ: your life. Or–since I don’t actually know anything about your life–we’ll go with our lives. As I mentioned, we have a relationship with God today on a personal basis for his glorification. In laymen’s terms, we can know God as a friend. The advantage to this is that judgement does seem a little bit more fair, because day-to-day we are personal held accountable for our own actions, instead of those of our nation or country.
Bad things happen to good people, right? Yes, but for specific reasons. This isn’t an easy thing to accept, or even to live with–especially when we’re the good, striving people who undergo difficulties. But things happen to people for reasons we don’t understand, and the world’s horrible things don’t exist by God’s preference in the first place.
So justice is served in our lives, making things truly right, because God just says so? Yes, but there’s a little more to it. Things come together for those who follow God, as a huge part of the bible is used to tell us. Likewise, those who don’t follow God, by choice, will be punished appropriately. Of course, this doesn’t mean that will always be the case. In fact, it may never seem to be the case in your life.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. ” 2 Corinthians 9:10
Just in case you didn’t get the message: God will supply. And further, he will “enlarge the harvest of your righteousness”, so he will reward you as well. God’s plan for our lives is perfect for us, as he made us, and cares for us personally, so whatever happens, you can face it (that’s definitely in the bible, but I can’t recall where…). As the apostle Paul simply describes trials:
You know quite well that we were destined for them.” 1 Thessalonians 3:3
We were destined for difficulty, and why wouldn’t that be fair? Difficulty builds us up in faith (James 1:2-4). But now that we know all this, we have the responsibility to play our part in God’s plan for justice.
And in the entire world, God is working through countless Christians, people of all ages, origins, and skill sets, occupations, knowledge, and everything else to get the word out, the good news, to all people. And, if one person from some ancient civilization was killed in innocence, or if a woman in a remote village today dies before ever hearing about Jesus, or a child dies in birth–who’s to say, on Judgement Day, God won’t give them a fair sentence? It is fair, whether we understand or not. We can trust the ruling the Lord gives everywhere on Earth or in Heaven. And better, God’s ruling is just–of that we can be sure.
After getting through all of that, you may still have lots of unanswered questions, and there are many things I didn't explain. Luckily, we've probably explained that in another post. I know for sure there's useful stuff in these two:
Out on a blind date, you have a hard time knowing what to expect. In fact, you don’t know what to expect at all. You are placing some degree of trust in the organizer of the date that this person may be for you. But, you are doing it often with very little evidence to base it on.
The Israelites are put in a similar position, but with the stakes a little higher. You would think that the Israelites would react with something like “Are you kidding me God?!”. Isaiah prophesies the nation’s punishment and exile, and yet we are told God wishes the people not to fear this, as if to surrender to their foe.
Therefore, this is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says, “O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did.”” Isaiah 10:24
This example is somewhat unusual, in that God has been prophesying to the Israelites that basically they are going to be punished via the Assyrians, and he then tells them not to sweat it. Any reasoning person would surely question this. The bible has plenty of passages which tell us to not fear, and to trust in God (try Psalm 112:7, Exodus 20:20, Isaiah 41:10, or 1 Peter 3:14.). But it makes it one heck of a lot harder when we are told to juggle that with impending death from one of your worst and most vicious enemies.
There’s plenty of times which there is reason to be afraid. It just so happens that a lot of those times, it’s mostly our fault. But even among this, awaiting what is to us due, we have to realize that even then, even in the moment of absolute darkness, we are to trust God.
A lot of people call it crazy. Blind love? Blind trust? Blind hope? I call it obedience. And it isn’t blind, either. When we allow ourselves to trust God, and invest fully in him, he will make sure that we are anything but blind. The Lord we serve prepares us for what’s ahead, though sometimes we don’t listen to the warnings and conditioning he gives us. That’s why it’s key that even when we’re not in times of trouble, we still maintain trust in God–that we’ll stay out of trouble.
In the following quote, it almost seems as if God is joking. He says that even among the punishment, it is only justice, and basically says he’s still giving Jacob a chance.
Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, for I am with you,” declares the LORD. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”” Jeremiah 46:28
My favorite part is when Jacob is told by God, “I will not completely destroy you.” Unlike the friend you have organizing a blind date, God will never be cruel or give you something you can’t handle. This trust is not blind in God though. With the countless examples in the bible and in life, people who trust in God succeed. You can always place your trust in God, even when it seems to be blind.