The Justice of God: Finding True Justice in an Unjust World
2 Thess. 1:5-8 and Psalm 73:1-13
“It is only just for God to repay”
In society today there is the clamor for justice. When people use their power and law to abuse the rights of others, we rightfully demand that justice be enforced. When we feel are mistreated, or others are wrongfully mistreated, we call for justice. When people, under the guise of justice, disregard the law themselves, we become enraged, for any distortion of justice ultimately promotes evil.
As we have previously seen, God is righteousness in the truest and purest sense of the word. God is not merely one who acts righteously, he is the definition of righteousness. However, essential to all righteousness is the upholding of that standard. An unjust person is not only the person who breaks the law, but also those who refuse to uphold the law and enforce the consequences when the law is broken. This is especially true of God’s law. When we speak of God’s justice, we are referring to the fact that he himself acts in conformity with his law and he administers his kingdom in accordance to that law by bringing punishment to the wicked and rewards to the righteous.
In 2 Thessalonians Paul is addressing those who are facing persecution and affliction because of their faith. When this happens, we can become discouraged and question God’s justice. But Paul remind them that the righteousness of God leads to the justice of God. While his righteousness establishes the moral laws of the universe, His justice then treats people according to the requirements of the law and their response to his law. He brings rewards to those who obey and retribution to those who break his moral law. As the church at Thessalonica was facing persecution and suffering, it would be easy for them to begin to question the justice of God, for it seems as if their oppressors remain unjudged. But Paul points out that there will come a time when God executes his justice and those persecuting the church will be repaid for their actions. He will bring retributions to those who reject Christ and refuse to obey God’s commands (8-9). But he will also reward the righteous for their obedience (10). In the end justice will prevail.
As we look at the world it is easy to conclude that wickedness is winning the day and righteousness is being ignored. Like the Psalmist we can conclude, “Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence” (Psalm 73:12-13) and so we can begin to stumble in our faith (73:2). But there is hope. No matter how much we see injustice in our world today, God will, in his perfect time, bring his justice that is perfect, impartial, and grounded in his moral law. We do not need to get discouraged when we face adversity and injustice in the world, for these will continue to remain as long as sin remains. Instead, we can anticipate the day when God will bring his justice, when he will judge those that reject his law, and bring his rewards to those who believe and follow him (vs 10). When he comes to establish his kingdom, he will reign in perfect righteousness and execute perfect justice. Wrong will no longer be regarded as right and evil will no longer be able to run rampant without any punishment. While we see the injustice in the world and the apparent injustice in our own suffering, we can find comfort knowing that there will come a time when God will set all thing right.