God's Goodness and Justice
Hello, this is Pastor Don of Christ Redeemer Church. Welcome to The Kingdom Perspective.
The Bible tells us repeatedly that God is good.
For example, Psalm 106 commands:
“Praise the Lord!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1)
And again in Psalm 145:9…
The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
And Psalm 34:8…
Oh taste and see that the LORD is good!
Now, some may be thinking: “But I thought God was a judge. What about the angry-at-sin part? I thought God was not only good, but also just?”
Well, think with me.
God’s essential heart towards His creation is not one of punishment—that is corrective/retributive justice. God is not a grumpy god sitting up in heaven thinking: “What fault can I find today? Who can I get irritated with and punish?
Certainly, God IS just and He will by NO MEANS allow the guilty to go unpunished (Ex. 34:7), And so, if you are evil-doer, this should make you terrified.
But more to the heart of His character, God is “…abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands” (Ex. 34:6-7). From all eternity and to all eternity, God is overflowing with goodness and generosity.
Corrective or retributive justice is not at the heart of who God is, but rather is what happens when God’s goodness (His infinite moral excellence) encounters evil (the warping of or rebellion against His goodness).
For God to express His goodness in the face of such evil requires Him to punish it—to correct it. Justice is the necessary by-product of His essential goodness. It is God’s goodness that drives him to judge evil. We expect nothing less among our human rulers. How much more the ultimate ruler of heaven and earth!
Something to think about from The Kingdom Perspective.
The Lord said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
~ Exodus 34:1-9 (ESV)