There will be justice
As we hear of innocent children being beheaded, their mothers raped, their fathers slaughtered mercilessly, we may question the whereabouts of this almighty, loving God Christians talk about. Is his arm too short to save?1 Perhaps he is sleeping or otherwise indisposed, as Elijah taunted the prophets of Baal.2 At best he seems distant and disinterested.
But he is not. He sees, he knows, he grieves, and he could destroy in an instant all the murderous purveyors of evil wherever they be. But he withholds his hand of judgment…for now…because he must.
What kind of God would let the innocent be terrorized so, when he is able to rescue them? The kind of God whose sphere of knowledge, foresight, and influence includes all of creation, time, and eternity. Who created a people to share in a blissful, pain-free everlasting existence in a love relationship with himself, entered into freely because that’s the only way true love can be given. Who must allow evil to guarantee that love is freely given. And who is able to recompense the unjustly treated with eternal blessings of a magnitude far and above the pain and suffering they undeservedly endured.
But the unjust…the wicked…will suffer an everlasting torment commensurate with their evil. Is there any doubt they deserve nothing less? “Oh, that you would slay the wicked, O God!” David cries in Psalm 139. Oh, that he would strike down the ISIS terrorists before they strike down any more innocent ones, as he did in the days of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. “And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.”3
Yet, God says, “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die?”4 And, “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”5 So he stands ready to forgive any who would repent, but for those who won’t – and he knows who they are – he stands ready to judge.
God can deliver the wicked into the hands of the righteous who are pursuing them, and I believe he does. I am praying for that. But we will continue to see evil thrive and the innocent suffer and die, until all whom God knows will come to him…do. Then will come the day of God’s wrath, and the wicked will cry out for the rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them from his righteous right hand.6
Until then, what are we doing to combat evil? If we hope to have any success in battle, we must first know our enemy. Are we acknowledging objective right and wrong, or underestimating evil’s power by attributing it to a rejection of cultural and societal norms? Our weapons are weak if all we can say to the terrorist is, I don’t like what you’re doing. Or, we as a society have decided that what you’re doing is wrong.
Are we seeking after truth and exposing false ideologies that breed hatred and a thirst for power? Are we seeking after God, who IS truth, and aligning our lives with him so that by his power we can be weapons for righteousness in his hands? Our greatest hope for combating evil is recognizing the evil in our own hearts and surrendering to the One who promises to cleanse us from it if we turn to him. And then, with our own evil hearts conquered, becoming God’s foot-soldiers as we join him in overcoming the evil in others by sharing the life-giving, heart-changing good news of cleansing, restoration, and salvation in Jesus Christ.
There will be justice. All who refuse to submit to God as Redeemer will have him as their Judge. I am as certain of it as I am that every Muslim martyr for Allah anticipating an orgiastic paradise with 72 virgins is getting the rudest awakening ever.