Thy Judgments Are Right

The goodness of God ensures His judgements are right (Ps 119:75); the righteous understand that any affliction or punishment He prescribes is perfectly appropriate, faithful and just, more than deserved. (67,71) To resist or complain when God afflicts us is to defiantly reject His goodness and claim He’s inherently malevolent and evil; it’s exalting ourselves above God, arrogant presumption of the highest order (Ps 19:13), insisting we know better. (Ge 3:22)

This includes all those suffering everlasting punishment (Mt 25:46); to believe in God and receive Him from there, from Hell itself, which the wicked should certainly still do (Re 22:17), is to acknowledge that all divine punishments are appropriate in response to offenses and crimes committed against God; the wicked shouldn’t complain against or resist the wrath of God, even from Hell. (Re 15:4) They should exclaim with all Heaven that God’s judgments are true and right. (Re 16:7)

However, the wicked will not do this (Ge 4:13), because the very wellspring of wickedness is the belief that God is not good, that He is unjust. (Ge 3:5) Even to escape the fires of Hell itself, the wicked won’t repent of this sin against God; they’ll stubbornly persist in it. (Re 6:16)

Consider the story Christ tells of a rich man in Hell, lifting up his eyes in torment, pleading with Abraham to relieve him in his misery. (Lk 16:23-24) He plays on mercy to tempt the righteous to do what God will not do, and thereby admit God’s justice is too severe. Yet Abraham aligns with God and refuses, reminding the rich man of his sins against God and Man, having profoundly neglected the helpless in their earthly suffering (21), and of the righteous consequences. (25)

The rich man’s next move is to again beg Abraham to do something else God will not do: send someone back from the dead just to warn his family to flee the wrath to come. (27-28) This is a second attack upon God, directed at His self-revelation, claiming it’s insufficient, again implying His punishments are unjust. Abraham again refuses, pointing out that his family has perfectly sufficient proof of God’s character and expectation: God has plainly revealed Himself in Torah and the Prophets. (29)

The rich man persists in his denial of the sufficiency of God’s provision, insisting that his family would repent and be saved if they witnessed such a spectacular miracle. (30) This is a third arrogant attack upon God, directed at His knowledge of Man: his presumption is that God is misinformed, that we’re mostly reasonable people, his family in particular, undeserving of eternal punishment; we simply lack sufficient warning to live in light of eternity. Yet Abraham remains faithful: God knows Man’s depraved heart and is revealing Himself to mankind accordingly.  (31)

What would God do if the wicked softened their hearts in Hell and acknowledged His goodness? If we know God well we know how He’d respond: His mercy is infinite toward those who fear Him. (Ps 103:11)

Why won’t the wicked honor God then, even from Hell? Why would anyone ever deliberately sin against God? This is indeed the true mystery, the mystery of iniquity (2Th 2:7): the desperate wickedness of Man; the godly are horrified by it; we may never fully understand it. (Je 17:9)

In repentance, regardless of our suffering at God’s hands (La 3:9), we admit to receiving the due reward of our deeds (Lk 23:41) and heed God’s warning to flee the wrath to come. (Lk 3:7) This is God’s gift to all who are willing to acknowledge that He is, and that He faithfully rewards all who diligently seek Him. (He 11:6)

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One thought on “Thy Judgments Are Right”

  1. How then do we understand biblical contexts where godly men appeared to challenge or contend with God?

    For example, Jacob refused a direct order to let go of God as they wrestled. (“And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Ge 32:26)

    Or how about Moses telling God to repent? (“Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.” Ex 32:12)

    There are times when it’s appropriate to challenge God, to appeal to Him, to debate with Him. So, it must be true that we can do so from a place of meekness, humility, and submission.

    The key would be in why we’re resisting or challenging God; are we doing it for selfish, rebellious reasons? or are we appealing to God to be faithful to His own nature and character?

    In each of the above examples, the striving soul wasn’t in rebellion against God, but looking to God to be faithful under dire circumstances.

    Jacob had God’s promise of blessing (“And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.” Ge 31:3) yet would shortly face a very angry, resentful brother with 400 warriors (“And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands.” Gen 32:6-7), and since the Angel was clearly powerful enough to escape under his own power as he pleased (for he had wounded Jacob merely by touching him as they wrestled – “And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.” Ge 32:25), Jacob perceived the command to let go as a test to see if he would persevere in prayer, being unwilling to take “No” for an answer when he really needed God to come through in order to keep His promises.

    Moses bases his appeal to God on preserving God’s own reputation among the nations; he didn’t have anything personally to gain from contending with God.

    The Psalms are simply chock full of desperate prayers to God to be faithful, striving with God as we participate with Him in accomplishing His own work. This is essentially what intercession is: committing ourselves to wrestling with God on behalf of others to get God to intervene so as to perfectly glorify Himself. (“Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.” Ps 9:19-20) Even when worded as direct commands to God, the heart of godly prayer is ultimately the glory of God. God is pleased to engage with us like this when it works to transform our character into the likeness of Christ, which is His purpose in us. (“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, …” Ga 4:19)

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