Does the God of Justice Care?
THROUGHOUT history humans have suffered much. Bitter tears have been shed over the loss of loved ones in death. Sickness, aging, crippling accidents and lack of life’s necessities have brought agonizing pain to many. Besides all of this, men, women and children have fallen victim to oppression, injustices, crime and violence.
Yet the Bible says of God: “All his ways are justice.” (Deut. 32:4) Do you find it hard to understand why a God of justice would tolerate wickedness for centuries? Do you wonder if he really cares about you?
You are not alone. Even in ancient times upright men were perplexed about God’s apparent toleration of lawlessness, oppression and suffering. They sought a satisfying answer from Jehovah God, their Creator. One of these men was a Hebrew prophet named Habakkuk. Grieved about terrible conditions, he asked: “How long, O Jehovah, must I cry for help, and you do not hear? How long shall I call to you for aid from violence, and you do not save? Why is it that you make me see what is hurtful, and you keep looking upon mere trouble? And why are despoiling and violence in front of me, and why does quarreling occur, and why is strife carried? Therefore law grows numb, and justice never goes forth. Because the wicked one is surrounding the righteous one, for that reason justice goes forth crooked.”—Hab. 1:2-4.
In answer to his questions, the prophet Habakkuk was given a vision that assured him of Jehovah’s ultimately taking action to remove wickedness. Habakkuk was also told: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—Hab. 2:3.
This gives us confidence that Jehovah God has an “appointed time” for taking action. Even if there should appear to be a “delay” from the human standpoint, this does not mean that God does not care about us, that he has forgotten us and changed his purpose. Since “Jehovah is a lover of justice, . . . he will not leave his loyal ones.” (Ps. 37:28) His prophetic word, including his promise to end injustices, oppression and pain, is “panting” or eagerly moving forward to its fulfillment. (Rev. 21:3, 4) Relief for honest-hearted people from the present system of things is therefore sure to come.
Due to our short life-span, we humans would very much want that relief now. We may think tomorrow could be too late to begin enjoying the benefits resulting from the end of wickedness, disease, sorrow and suffering. So, we may incline to be impatient, to feel that God is slow, to feel that he is ‘delaying’ in bringing the foretold relief.
Jehovah God, however, has no limitations affecting him by a time element. He is God “from time indefinite to time indefinite.” (Ps. 90:2) “One day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet. 3:8) Unlike short-lived humans who cannot long postpone their plans if they are to be carried out, Jehovah God can wait until developments in the stream of time are just right for the accomplishment of the greatest good possible.
ISSUES AT STAKE
Being almighty, Jehovah God could have destroyed the wicked centuries ago. But this would not really have been in man’s best interests. Why not? Primarily because of issues or questions that were raised shortly after Jehovah God placed the first human pair, Adam and Eve, in a beautiful paradise home.
The one responsible for raising these questions was an invisible spirit creature, later called “Devil” and “Satan.” Using a serpent, the Devil claimed that disobedience to divine law would not lead to death as God had stated but would result in gain. (Gen. 3:4, 5) This claim called into question whether God’s exercise of rulership over his creatures was really in their best interests.
The fact that Adam and Eve joined Satan in a course of disobedience raised yet another question or issue: Would all other intelligent creatures become unfaithful and disloyal to God when obedience brought no seeming gain? Satan’s claim, made centuries later regarding faithful Job, implied that—if loss be suffered—they would stop serving God. Satan said: “Skin in behalf of skin, and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul. For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch as far as his bone and his flesh and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.”—Job 2:4, 5.
The immediate destruction of Satan would not have settled these issues that had been raised. Time was needed to prove that submission to God’s rule is righteous and in the best interests of all intelligent creation. And time was needed to prove that Satan was wrong in maintaining that all who served God did so merely for selfish reasons.
The accusations made against God and his intelligent creatures might be illustrated in a human way. Suppose a father of a large family is slandered by one of his neighbors. The neighbor claims that the father does not have the best interests of the family at heart and is needlessly severe and oppressive. Regarding the members of the family, the neighbor contends that none love the father but merely stay in the home because he provides food and other necessities for them.
How might the father disprove the falsehoods? If strong enough, he could use force and beat up his neighbor, compelling the neighbor to withdraw his slanderous remarks. But would this really settle the matter? Would it convince others? Might not observers conclude that the accusations could be true in view of the father’s attempt to stamp them out by violent means? So, then, would it not be better for the father to allow his own family to serve as witnesses against the false charges? Indeed! Their words and actions over a period of time could demonstrate to others that they really loved their father and appreciated the fine way he exercised his headship.
This is what Jehovah God has done. By allowing wicked persons to continue living for a time, he has made it possible for others to share in proving Satan’s claim to be false by remaining faithful, even under unfavorable and trying circumstances. This has been in harmony with the principle found at Proverbs 27:11: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.”
God’s refraining from executing the wicked immediately has also given individuals a merciful opportunity to change their ways and become his obedient servants. As the apostle Peter told fellow Christians: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) What marvelous evidence this is of Jehovah’s caring about mankind! He wants people to come into a position that will mean salvation for them, and he gives them time to do so. Then, when he does act, no one can rightly claim that God was unjust in not giving humans enough time to change.
Furthermore, the evidence will be undeniable that God’s rule is right and that millions of his creatures in the heavens and on the earth serve him out of a pure motive, out of love for him. Any who thereafter challenge the rightfulness, righteousness and deservedness of his sovereignty will not be tolerated. There will be no need to allow such challengers time to try to prove their contention, thereby disrupting the peace and harmony of God’s universal family. (Compare Revelation 20:7-9.) Thus God’s having allowed enough time for the settlement of the issues raised by Satan will result in the greatest good for obedient mankind. The settlement of these issues makes certain that no one will ever again have to endure injustices, suffering or oppression on account of those who have no love for righteousness.
HUMANS MUST ACT NOW
It is especially urgent today that we respond favorably to Jehovah God’s unmerited kindness in giving humans an opportunity to become his approved servants. The evidence of Bible chronology and Bible prophecy unmistakably points to this very generation as the one that will witness the “appointed time” for the removal of this wicked system. (Matt. 24:34; 2 Tim. 3:1-5) The God of justice has not left mankind without due notice of this. In more than 200 lands his Christian witnesses are diligently proclaiming the destruction of the present wicked system and the ushering in of a righteous new order. “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13) This means that God’s kingdom by Jesus Christ will, as “new heavens,” rule over the “new earth” of devoted subjects.
If you desire to be among the loyal subjects of God’s kingdom, heed the inspired advice: “Do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Pet. 3:14) For a person to be found in that condition, he must know and act in harmony with Jehovah God’s requirements for life as set forth in his Word the Holy Bible. Jehovah’s witnesses in your area will be happy to assist you in gaining this vital Bible knowledge. The next time they call on you, ask them about their free weekly home Bible study arrangement. Or, write to the publishers of this magazine and we will gladly arrange for someone to call on you.