Justice stinks! That was the conclusion of the newspaper article. It said a foul stench had pervaded the courtroom of Judge John Hrko since exterminators visited a week before. The judge complained, “Exterminators were hired to take care of a bat problem, and they sprayed in there. But after they left, the odor started.” The cause? Dead animals! But no one had been able to find them. And Judge Hrko vows, “I’m not going to use that courtroom again until the smell is gone!” So, as for now, justice stinks in Wyoming County, West Virginia.
But, then, you don’t have to live in West Virginia to come to that conclusion. Listen to the news and you wonder, “Is there any justice in the world today?” Corrupt politics. Wall Street scams. Welfare cheats. Child molesters released after a few short years in prison. Mass killings like the one in Colorado last week. It’s enough to make us cry out with the Psalmist, “How long, O LORD, will the wicked triumph?” And how long will the innocent continue to suffer? (Psa. 94:3) Then the answer comes: Not long, friend! For as bad as things appear, one day soon perfect justice is coming to this planet, because one day soon Christ will return, and when He does, He will judge the world in righteousness.
So far in our study of God, we’ve learned about His holiness, His goodness, His faithfulness, and His knowledge. But in the next few posts I’ll tackle a topic that is often overlooked today, and that’s the justice of God. Together we’ll find that because He is good and holy, God not only has the right to judge the world, He also has the obligation to do so. Let me take a question and answer in explaining why. In this post I’ll address the question: Why must God judge the world?
Abraham gives the answer in Genesis 18:25. Having been told that God is about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin, Abraham is concerned about his nephew Lot who lives in Sodom. So he stands before the Lord and asks Him, first, if He will spare the cities if 50 righteous people are found in them. But he doesn’t stop there. He bargains with God until He agrees to spare the cities if just 10 righteous people are found in them. The reason God agrees is because of the basis for Abraham’s argument. He says to God, “Far be it from You to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked!” And he immediately adds: “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
That’s the answer to our question. God must judge the world because the Judge of all the earth must do right. J.I. Packer explains: “Would a God who did not care about the difference between right and wrong be a good and admirable Being? Would a God who put no distinction between the beasts of history and His own saints be morally praiseworthy and perfect? Moral indifference would be an imperfection in God, not a perfection. The final proof that God is a perfect moral Being is the fact that He has committed Himself to judge the world.”
Sodom is an excellent illustration of God’s justice. For though He did not find 10 righteous people in that city, He did not destroy the righteous with the wicked. He sent two angels to rescue Lot’s family before He destroyed Sodom. Another example of His perfect justice is Noah’s Flood. What reason did God give for destroying the world at that time? Genesis 6:5 says, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Imagine a world where every father molested his children, every argument ended in violence, and every person’s thoughts were were immoral! So how did God spare future generations from being born into that hopeless, moral cesspool? God in mercy destroyed the world at that time and started all over again with righteous Noah and his family.
A surgeon shared his faith with one of his patients. But she considered herself a good person who didn’t need a Savior. So the doctor warned her, “There’s a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, and if you don’t trust Christ as your Savior, you won’t be happy with the outcome!” But she couldn’t accept what he was saying. “God loves me too much to condemn me. Besides, how could a loving God send anyone to hell?” Later, the woman was found to have cancer, so an operation was scheduled. Beforehand the doctor met her outside the OR and said to her, “I’ve decided not to operate on you. I love you too much to cut into you!” “Doctor,” she pleaded, “if you love me, you’ll do whatever it takes to save me. How could you think of leaving this horrible thing inside me?” To which he replied, “That’s how God sees sin—as a moral cancer destroying His creation. And just as a surgeon can’t love the sick without hating disease, neither can God save the world without judging sin. His justice and mercy go hand in hand.”
Make no mistake, friend! Judgement Day is coming. Just as God judged sin in the past, He will judge it again, and not just in the lives of unbelievers. Speaking to Christians, Paul says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10) Sometimes we get the idea that once we accept Christ, we are safe to do as we please, and God can’t touch us because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And that’s true! If you’ve sincerely surrendered your life to Christ, you won’t be condemned. But you will suffer the discipline of God in this life, and in the life to come a judgment of honor or shame depending on how you’ve lived for Him. For if God is God, sin must be dealt with. The Judge of all the earth must do right.
(For next time, question #2: Why does God have the right to judge us?)