He says, “judge not, unless you be judged,” (Matt 7:1) yet He judges us. He says, “do not repay evil with evil, but repay evil with good,” (Rom 12:17-21) yet He devises and proclaims evil for those He has judged as deserving.
As a Christian, I can understand the difference between us and God. Our hearts are too impure to handle judging others, and the effects of enacting justice (i.e. revenge). It is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:19). And we know that there is only one true and worthy Judge, who judges all things but is judged by no one. Yet, Atheists don’t seem to understand how God is on a different moral level from us, which makes Him righteous when He judges and punishes evil. To them, He appears to be a hypocrite, who tells us not to do what He passionately does.
The Bible says Love “…does not keep record of wrong,” (I actually can’t find this phrase in my KJV or NKJV translations!) yet, it would appear that GOD does… How then can He be Love? Again, Love “…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things…” (1 Cor 13:7). Can that really be applied to God, who is said to have prepared hell as judgement for the wicked – from the foundation of the world (or perhaps it was only Heaven that was prepared before the foundation of the world, and hell came after, as the timing isn’t explicit in Matt 25:41)? It’s doesn’t seem optimistic or positively hopeful at all.
In so many ways, God’s standards and practices are different from what He demands of us. He says, His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). I don’t believe His standard is lesser but greater, because with more power comes greater responsibility. He has the responsibility to judge, and He is the only one endowed with all wisdom, knowledge and understanding to do it competently and justly.
But even still, He often withholds His judgments to bear with men, and for that, He proclaims that He is merciful and long-suffering (Exo 34:6). Because He eventually enacts judgments and punishments doesn’t change the fact that He is merciful and long-suffering… Because He is also just, and so cannot abide with evil forever. When their evil is ripe, He passionately dispenses His judgement, not because He is a sadist that delights in seeing people suffer, but because His action is righteous, and He delights in righteousness (Eze 18:23).
It may be hard for us to comprehend His judgments, even as it’s hard for us to obey His statutes, because we do not see things with the same eyes. We do not carry His burden of responsibility or righteousness. We cannot fathom His depth of compassion and grace. We just cannot judge Him. But we can believe Him. We can trust Him, and we can obey Him.
And He promises to reward our faith…with greater mercy, intimate love and enduring favour. We enjoy His sovereign mercy, which is pardon for our sins through Jesus Christ, and favour to be called His children. We are given grace to KNOW Him and enjoy intimacy with Him. So, even when He rebukes, chastises and disciplines us, we can know that it is simply a father’s discipline, as He seeks to mould us in His righteousness (Heb 12:6-8).
Reading the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah have been hard for me, as I’ve considered God through the eyes of those who hate Him for His judgments. But through intimacy, I’ve sought to understand Him, how He is the unchanging God, and thus Jesus is not His modern-day representative, spotting a new image of God. Jesus is the real representation of the same God who delivered the Jews from slavery in Egypt, led them through the wilderness, and ultimately scattered them among the nations when He judged them. And at the end of time, Jesus will sit, not as Saviour of the world, but as the Judge, to judge all and deliver God’s punishment to the wicked (Matt 25:31-33).
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