God hates injustice and always deals with it:
“The Lord is a God of justice.” So we read in Isaiah 30:18. Or as we find in Psalm 37:28: “The Lord loves justice.” Many other biblical texts affirm this truth. God cares deeply about justice, and he wants to see justice on display in our lives – both private and social. So we also find a lot in Scripture about the need for justice among rulers and nations. What the Lord said to Israel in Amos 5:15 and 24 for example is something he expects of all nations and all political leaders:
Hate evil, and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
Let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Justice matters. And one major aspect of this is the fundamental principle of Western democracies: the rule of law. Simply stated, this has to do with the fact that both the governed and those who govern are subject to the law – no one is above it. That is a huge advance on most other political systems both past and present.
Of course in nations that don’t adhere to the need for justice and the rule of law we find all manner of gross injustice as rulers get away with murder – often literally. Tyrannies, dictatorships and police states routinely thrive on injustice and oppression, denying their citizens basic human rights.
Even in the West we find far too much injustice, corruption and evil in high places. But while fallen man may think they can get away with this, our God will NOT let it go unchecked. It will be brought to an end eventually – if not in this life, then in the next. Scripture speaks to both of these realities. Cases of God acting swiftly in human history to judge injustice are many. Let me mention just two famous instances of this.
Both of these examples involve kings – one good king and one bad king. We all know of the story of the former: David and Bathsheba. We find this recorded in 2 Samuel 11-12. David wrongly lusts after a married woman, commits adultery with her, and then has her husband killed in an attempted cover-up. Talk about terrible injustice. Talk about abusing his power and privilege as a leader.
But this did not go unnoticed and unchecked. The Lord sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke King David. Thankfully he is convicted and repents, but he pays a heavy price nonetheless. The child conceived from their affair dies, and Nathan tells him of long-term consequences (2 Sam. 12:9-12):
Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’
Wow, God certainly took this matter of sin and injustice seriously. And forgiveness of sin does not always mean there will be no consequences for our evil actions. See more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2007/10/14/sin-forgiveness-and-consequences/
My second example of grave injustice concerns the wicked King Ahab and his move on Naboth’s vineyard. We find the whole account in 1 Kings 21:1-16:
Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.” As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
This is another horrific case of injustice where powerful leaders abuse their rule and oppress the weak and powerless. But again, God sent a prophet to rebuke the ruler and pronounce judgment. As we read in verses 17-19:
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’”
And in the next chapter we read about this very thing happening to Ahab (2 Kings 22:29-40). So again, God takes these matters very seriously indeed. As mentioned, sometimes the sin and injustice is dealt with quite quickly. At other times it may be a while before any action is taken.
And even if it seems like those committing acts of terrible injustice are getting away with their sins and crimes, they will all nonetheless stand before their Judge to get their ultimate sentencing from the Lord. That should be good news for all of us who grieve over all the injustice and wickedness we see all around us, especially at the hands of our rulers.
Whether it is the blatant and terrible injustices being committed by the rulers of North Korea or China or Russia, or the lesser but still evil injustices carried out by someone like the Premier of Victoria here in Australia, payday is certain. If they do not seem to be judged in the here and now, you can be certain that they will be in the next life.
As Abraham said in Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Or as we read in Revelation 16 which speaks about the seven bowls of God’s wrath (verses 5-7):
And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,
“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”
And I heard the altar saying,
“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”
We can all be thankful that God is just and a God of justice, and he will bring about full justice. All sin, evil and injustice WILL be dealt with – if not now then certainly in the next life. So if you grieve daily – as I do – about all the evil and injustice we find everywhere, there is good news here: it will not be with us forever, and it will be judged and dealt with.
That is very good news indeed.