Recently I was reading Psalm 97 in the New Living Translation. I only got as far as verse two before I stopped, surprised. It says, in the last half of the verse, “…righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.” My first thought was that the NLT was different from all other translations in this verse, so I got out my NIV, where I discovered it’s word-for-word the same as in the NLT. I grabbed my ESV, NASB and even the New King James, only to find it’s exactly the same in all those translations. I can’t think of another significant sentence in the Bible where so many translations are identical.
As I continued reading down that page and on to the next one, the verses in that theme continued:
…He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness… (Psalm 98:9b NLT)
Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established fairness. (Psalm 99:4 NLT)
I will sing of your love and justice, LORD. (Psalm 101:1 NLT)
The more I looked, the more references to God being “fair and just” I found, throughout the Bible. Repeatedly it tells us that justice is right at the core of God’s character. I can understand righteousness being foundational to God’s nature, but justice? I see injustice all around me, so how does this verse fit what I see?
An Old Testament prophet had the same doubts as me: "How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you… but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted." Habakkuk 1:2-4 NIV
So who is right, the Psalmists listed above or the prophet Habakkuk?
This is where it becomes important to apply 2 Timothy 2:15, where it says we have to “rightly handle the word of truth…” (NIV) We have to seek God in this and properly apply His Word to find truth in what looks, at first glance, like a contradiction.
The solution here is that both sides of this issue are true, but at different times in God’s plan. In this world He has created, He mostly lets things play out…for now. “…The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11 NIV) In the words of Jesus, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45 ESV)
For now we have to live out the example of Jesus as portrayed in 1 Peter 2:23 NIV, "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." When we face injustice for which there is no earthly remedy, we can only entrust ourselves to God and endure our hardships.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 NIV—“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.” [But not in our chosen timing.] “…This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”
…Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Peter 2:3 NIV)
They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. (2 Peter 2:13 NIV)
…they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:5 NIV)
That is how justice will be found.
© 2017 Darvis McCoy