Recently I’ve been wrestling with this dilemma. If God is just and all powerful, why is the world unjust? If injustice can be wiped away by God when he creates the new heaven and the new earth, what is he waiting for?
One of the ways I validate and build my faith is through seeing if the ways of the world line up with how the Bible describes it. Often when I read about sin leading people astray, children being wicked from their mother’s womb, and the selfish desires in everyone’s heart, I think, “Yeah, that sounds about right”. Other times though, when I see God say he “protects the path of the just” and punishes the wicked, I think, “Is that really happening?”.
For some reason justice is innately very important to me. When I see things that are unfair, something inside of me screams out that its not just, its not right. Part of this maybe stems from a wealthy, sheltered upbringing, where I looked at the world and wondered why I deserved the easy life while billions were suffering in ways I couldn’t imagine. When I have discussions with Kelsey, I often use the phrase “that’s fair” to validate a point. In my brain, emotions and facts, stories and events are all judged on fairness. But the world is generally a very unfair place. Even Abraham asks God if he is really as just as he says he is, Gen 18 (Sodom and Gomorrah) “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” So lets dive into what the bible says about that, fairness and justice.
I’ll start with this. Lets check on how God feels about justice.
Deut. 10:18; Ps. 10:18
He seeks justice for these 4 underdog groups repeatedly.
- Widows and Orphans
Would you fall into any of those categories?
Why these categories?
It seems to me these people end up in those categories due to injustice. So He wants to restore them to a just position. But why are people victims of injustice?
Are humans the cause of injustice in the world?
Significantly yes, but not fully. Do people suffer famine because of sin? Maybe sometimes. Do people lose their family or home to a disaster suffer because of evil they did? Doesn’t seem as direct of a correlation.
The issue with this line of thinking is that all people have sinned and deserve injustice. So why are some treated better than others. Jesus dismisses the idea that the victims of injustice always deserve it.
John 9:1-12, “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in Him”
God calls us to be just and at times blames man for injustice, but doesn’t claim that all injustice is as a result of sinfulness.
The way Ecclesiastes paints injustice in a slightly different light.
Eccl 3:16 In the place of justice and righteousness, even there was wickedness.
Eccl 4:1 The oppressors have the power and no one is there to comfort the oppressed.
Eccl 5:8 “If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them”
So sin in a position of power is the cause of injustice?
Maybe that’s part of it. There’s possibly another reason though. One thing I admire most about God is His humility. He IS all powerful and all knowing, but he CHOOSES to be just and humble. They fact that he shares his authority with man and with spiritual beings is worthy of praise. This leads to a humanity that is full of joy and love, but also evil and sadness. In Gen 1:28, God tells us to “have dominion over the earth” As such, it is our responsibility to dish out justice while we are still in charge here on earth. God tells us repeatedly to “do justice and love righteousness to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”. God has shared that power with us and we have abused it, he has been infinitely patient and we have not rewarded his faith in us. God opens the door for injustice when he puts us in charge of it.
Ps 82 has another reason. God shared his power with more than just humans.
Not only did God give US power over the earth, he shares his authority with his “divine council” or “sons of god”
Deut 32: 8-9 God allotted other nations to the Sons of God, kept Israel for himself, where he established laws for justice.
Ps 82, He says to his divine council, “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked”. (dwell on Ps 82 for a bit)
So some power and blame rests on the “elohim” that God puts in charge over the nations. And they too have rebelled against God and abused their power. God is even sharing his authority with this divine council and they are leading men astray.
But God is also more mysterious and awesome than that. We can’t claim justice never happens or that only we have a say in justice. Ecclesiastes says that understanding why things happen to people is “hevel” or a vapor, which means we can’t quite grasp it. Why can’t we grasp it, because God is on another level. Maybe there is also so randomness or chance, or maybe not, depending on how you believe God works.
Habakkuk speaks to this theme as well. Hab 1:2-6, to Habakkuk, “justice never goes forth”. God replies that you may not realize it, but I’m using the wicked to have my justice go forth. What may seem like injustice can also be discipline or correction to an unrighteous person or nation that he longs for to turn back to him.
Injustice can also surely lead people to him and the better life in his will for eternity. In the end, God will restore justice, but until then, injustice makes us to cry out to him and allows him to call us, through that ache in our heart that cries for justice. CS Lewis says in The Problem of Pain, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains, it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
In Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or our crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
God longs to heal our pain and to see justice done. He won’t just stop crying from happening, but by “wiping away our tears” he seeks to comfort us and restore us.
Reasons for Injustice:
- Abuse of Power
- Shared authority
- Disobedient “Elohim”
- To restore us to him
- To discipline his people
- For reasons we can’t fathom (hevel)