Is God just?

Question:

I have a friend in his mid 50’s who has come to Christianity in the last 12 years, He has a hard time resolving how God treated certain people groups in the Five Books of Moses and the Prophets Bible that were destroyed or killed by God’s command. I have tried talking to him about the sovereignty of God and the Protection of God’s people, but he still struggles with it.

He believes God was unjust. A new perspective from you would help greatly. 

Thanks,

∼ Robert W.

Answer:

Dear Robert,

Why go so far back? Isn’t it unjust when a baby is born with a painful disability or when some are born into free and wealthy countries while others are born to areas where repression and starvation threaten? We understand that your friend might try to distinguish between God commanding that the enemies of Israel be killed and innocent children suffering and dying.  However, there really is not much of a difference is there? Nothing happens without His say so.  After all, for an omnipotent God, commanding something very visibly is not that much different from invisibly directing that a particular child should suffer. Is your friend fine with what he sees around him today?

Abraham certainly wasn’t. He argued vehemently with God concerning the destruction of Sodom. However—and this is key—he accepted God’s final ruling. The bottom line is that God defines justice. If we see God’s acts as unjust, that is a challenge to us, not to God.

Only God sees the future and the whole picture, not we humans. In the unfolding of God’s plans He sometimes commanded that entire nations be wiped out. We struggle with His plan allowing the extermination of millions of Jews in Hitler’s death camps.  We don’t understand it, but we accept that it is part of God’s justice.

It certainly makes it difficult that God doesn’t speak to us as He did to Abraham or Moses. We are left trying as best we can to follow what He wants. Through the ages, due to the frailty and corruptibility of humans, this has sometimes resulted in terrible acts committed in God’s name. However, the great movements that have resulted in the most good for the most people, including the founding of America and the abolition of slavery, have stemmed from people attempting to follow God’s will. A cursory view of history will show that when human beings try to define justice or to make God in their image, calamity often follows.

Your friend is right to struggle with understanding God. A quote that hung in one of my (Susan’s) classrooms in high school read, “We shall never find God in this life — that is what makes life tragic. But to stop searching for God, that makes life meaningless.”

Contentment is for cows, not humans,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin


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10 thoughts on “Is God just?”

  1. God put us in this natural world and natural things will happen. Devastating storms, poverty, disabilities, etc. Some things are man caused, hatred, murder and more. Some things can be explained by science, some can’t.
    Partly, I think God troubles us so we don’t get to comfortable in this world because our eternal home is with him from a Christian point of few. He is certainly succeeding if that is the case. Ha!

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  2. Thank you for this answer. I went through this confusion with my wife a few decades ago. Her biggest obstacle at the time was why God didn’t allow Moses into the promised land, even when we read Deuteronomy 32:48-52.
    She still felt that a ‘forgiveness’ should have been allowed on Moses’ behalf. But wouldn’t that have contradicted part of the Covenat that was made at Mt. Saini? 🤔

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  3. In Responsa from the Holocaust Rabbi Ephraim Oshry documents the remarkable continuity of religious life under the horrendous conditions of Nazi-occupied Lithuania. The Jews of the Kovno Ghetto went to Rabbi Oshry, one of the remaining religious authorities in the Kovno ghetto, and posed their questions to him. He answered their questions and recorded each and every query by copying it onto paper that he tore from cement sacks. He then buried these scraps of papers in cans in the soil around the ghetto.
    In this book, he described a Friday when the proscribed number of men put **d on trial for crimes against humanity. At the end of the trial it was nearing sun down. The group found **d guilty of all charges. After the trial the rabbi said, “It is now time for services.”
    **d is **d. Never lose you faith.

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  4. Matthew Gabor

    Thank you for this great question and answer. I think we all have wondered why things happen and it tests our faith and resolve to go on. God blessed America with being the greatest country for many years. We can all see how radical Politicians are blatantly and systematically working to remove God from America. America will be held accountable for this!

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  5. I remember a particularly tough time when I asked God, “Why me?” He answered, “Why not you? You’re human, aren’t you? You’re also Mine, and I’m still in control.” That didn’t answer all the details of my questions, nor did it remove all the troubles from my life. But it did remind me that whatever God does is done from His holiness and love. Is God just? Is life fair? That’s not the question. Is God still God regardless of what life brings? Swap the first two words of this question, replace the “?” with a period, and you have the answer.

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    1. Well said, Sonia. And, of course, we need to ask, “Why me?” with great gratitude for the good things in our lives.

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  6. William Messner

    I have come to realize that the evil that happens in this world are a result of mankind being created by God with a free will. Every person can choose at any given time to choose good over evil, not only for themselves but for all of those affected by that choice. Would anyone, if given the choice, prefer to be a robot which acts in a preordained , preprogrammed manner, without the blessing of having ones own will to act upon? We all know the answer to that question, don’t we? Evil exists in this world and in the hearts of men(and women) because of free will, and so we live in a world that is afflicted with every evil that man can devise, wholly apart from God’s will.

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  7. I feel a story coming on. Forgive me for my words are not always as they should be. How I see something is much different than how most people see are understand things. I see this come up in often in every aspect of life.
    We so much want life to be our way!
    If God is the Father of us and our home it has to be His way.
    Just as we are the parents of our children which have to follow our ways not the ways of our children. Does that ever work, letting children do things their way? No of course not.
    Now why haven’t we learned what God has told and taught us for six thousand years?
    One of the best stories in the Bible tells it all, “JOB”. He had it all. He did everything just as God asked of him will maybe almost everything. But the main thing was that Satin could not touch him or his family and he had wealth few could ever match. He had a beautiful and wonderful family. All until Satin and God made a deal and allowed Satin in the land that was protected by God which was the only way Satin could get in.
    Most people don’t see that Job had a Hedge around him land that Satin could not get into or past. Why are we not using this same Hedge that we are told of in this story??? Hello.
    My point being that we can have a life like Job had without Satin; using all God and Jesus has given us if we chose to do so. No health issues No birth defects No misery. Only good.
    Let your will be done as it is in Heaven. (( Jesus gave us this ))
    We do not have to have bad in our life. Only we are in control of that for the most part.
    Now why do we still not know how to gain this good life?
    When Satin was able to separate the Jewish people from the Christians we lost all hope of ever learning everything God intended us to know in building a good holy life only the Jewish people knew and lived by until they even stop doing from time to time.
    But now Jews like Rabbi Lapin and Susan are sharing their knowledge and ancient Jewish wisdom with us so that we can live lives in good ways without bad things happening to us.
    Now just know that even many Jewish people and Rabbi’s don’t have it all figured out yet but are much closer than most of us or anyone else.
    Gus

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