“He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4 NKJV).
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23).
All over the world people are crying out for justice to be done. In Ferguson, Missouri friends, family, and supporters of Michael Brown demand justice for his death. In South Africa the world watched the trial of Oscar Pistorius for the death of his girlfriend. Americans still remember the trials of O.J. Simpson and the policemen accused of brutality in Los Angeles, and question whether justice has ever really been served.
Here in Bangladesh, efforts have continued for over 40 years to bring alleged war criminals to justice for their actions during the War of Independence from Pakistan in 1971. One of the more prominent accused was previously convicted and sentenced to death, but appealed to the Supreme Court. Now that court has upheld the conviction but reduced the sentence to life imprisonment.
Both sides feel that injustice has prevailed. Supporters of the accused believe he should be set free. Those who regard him as a traitor and murderer insist that only his execution will constitute justice.
We live in a flawed and imperfect world. Nowhere is this more apparent and serious than in this matter of justice. Human justice will never be perfect. Some guilty parties will go unpunished (by man); some innocents will be wrongly convicted.
Judges and juries have their prejudices. Some are corrupt, susceptible to bribes or threats. All are limited in knowledge and wisdom. They do make mistakes. It is sometimes surprising that most of the time it seems that our courts get things about (if not exactly) right. Still, obvious injustice, particularly when it involves us personally, is very hard to accept.
It is not surprising that God is known as perfectly just and righteous. In fact, those two words are largely synonymous. Righteousness is the quality of always doing the right thing perfectly. Justice is the state of perfect equilibrium: every action receives its appropriate (just) reward. God is the arbiter who ensures that, eternally, all things are made just. Without the quality of justice he would not be God, or at least not a complete and perfect God.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
At the end of time Jesus will return in judgment, claiming the righteous for eternal life and bringing “eternal destruction” upon the wicked, “since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you” (2 Thessalonians 1:6).
When we are troubled by the Biblical passages that teach God’s wrath and punishment against the sinful, let us remember the outrage that is felt when injustice is done here on earth. We understand the frustration felt in the streets of Ferguson or Los Angeles when people seem to them to have literally gotten away with murder. That is just not right.
Is it not even a far more terrible thing for humans to rebel against their loving Creator and to pervert and destroy the lives he has created? That is even more not right. Justice is needed. And justice is coming.
Perfectly, without a single error, justice will be served.