As promised, I want to pick up pretty much where I left off last week. You may recall that I was addressing the awful circumstances surrounding the tragic sinking of the ferry off the shores of South Korea which ended up killing some 250 teenagers. Specifically, I brought to light the captain (along with most of the crew members) who abandoned ship while the majority of the passengers still were stranded.
This news, once it became clear what happened, struck a staggering blow that the whole world, but of course even more so, the families and friends of those who died will never fully recover from. How could this man be so selfish as to leave so many young people to their doom? As I said last week, there has been a moral outrage crying out for justice to be served.
This outrage is owing to the fact that a sense of right and wrong has been built into the very fabric of what it means to be humans made in the image of God, and is constantly being provoked in our day. With the age of 24-7 media and the internet, news from all over the world of various kinds of evils can instantly be shared. And just as fast, people can voice their shock and desire for justice to be given out. Sadly, this brings to mind yet another painful example that has come to light with regard to the 300 hundred or more Nigerian teenage girls who have been kidnapped by the Boko Haram. One can hardly find words to express how awful this is. People worldwide are crying out for someone, anyone, to bring these Muslim extremists to justice.
Thankfully, the Bible makes clear that one day all of these villains will face judgment. Whether or not they face human justice (and even that will not satisfy justice ultimately—how can past pain and damage be undone?), the Boko Haram, the captain in South Korea—and we could continue on with other examples—will ultimately face the justice of God.
The Bible is full of the assurance of this justice. Space limits me here, but let me give a few Scriptures that bring this out. Nahum 1:2 says, “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” In Deuteronomy 32:35, God says: “Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.” In Romans 2:5 we learn that a “day of wrath” is coming, “when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
This reality of God being a just and avenging God is why the Psalmist cried out in Psalm 94:1, “O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth!” It is why Paul counseled the Roman believers, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” This should help us as well to cry out for and to trust in “God’s righteous judgment.”
Why? Well, one day those like the Boko Haram and others will—to quote from Revelation 14:10-11—“drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger.” They will “be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” And “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night.”
I know that previous Scripture passage is very sobering and even graphic, but let it remind you that God’s justice is the ultimate justice that we long for against the evil in our world. No evil will be ignored or left unpunished. Justice will be done and will be seen to be done. And it will be fully satisfactory. No one will ever feel again a sense of incompleteness regarding the justice of God. The scales will be balanced.
With this important biblical truth laid, let me shift off the Boko Harams of our day to bring the pointing finger back toward you and I. You see, God’s vengeance toward evil also will come down upon us. We may not have abandoned a ship leaving hundreds to die, we may not have kidnapped young teenage girls to be sold off into prostitution and forced marriages, but each of us have sinned in many other ways, have we not (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 53:6)? Isn’t just one sin enough to condemn us? It was for Adam and Eve (see Gen. 3)! Friends, if we truly understand the justice of God, and we truly know that we, too, have sinned, then we should also sense that the scales of justice are unbalanced—that if God so moved, we also would be found guilty and rightly condemned to the same fate as described above.
This is where the good news of Jesus Christ comes shining in to this dark reality. In love, God sent Jesus to balance the scales of sinners of all kinds! For those who confess their wrongdoing to God and rely on what Jesus has accomplished for them, they will be declared righteous!
Is this a mockery of justice, that condemned sinners are freed? By no means! Jesus substituted Himself in the place of sinners like us. He suffered God’s wrath that otherwise would come down on sinners like us. More than that, Jesus provided His own perfect righteousness to be credited to them as well. All of this results in God’s justice being satisfied and sinners being redeemed! (On this glorious theme, see also 2 Cor. 5:21 and Romans 3:21-26.) Praise the Lord!
Where does this leave us? I hope and pray it leaves all of you who read this thankful and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has balanced the scales of justice on our behalf. Secondly, this can greatly help us to live in a world where people seem to get away with so much evil. Remember, they’re not ultimately getting away with anything. Vengeance will be poured out upon them. But let’s also let the truth of the gospel land hard on us such that we pray that they, too, would turn from their sin and find forgiveness at the cross. Amen?
Amazed at God’s grace in Christ for a sinner who otherwise would deserve Hell~