REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on September 21, 2014. He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“The Justice of God”
Ecclesiastes 8:2-8 (ESV)
Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
Martin Luther King once famously declared, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied” (“Letter from Birmingham Jail”). In so doing, he was echoing William Gladstone (19th century British Prime Minister), and indirectly asking: Why does God wait so long to punish and discipline evil?
Solomon is not the first person to notice that without immediate negative consequences, we are prone to picking the easiest path. Confession time: earlier this week, I walked across a street even though the green man wasn’t flashing. Why? One reason might be that in my life, I have never received a ticket for jay-walking.
But even if I were to get a ticket, it might not change my behavior or my heart. I will just check more carefully to see if policemen were present before I cross the street. A jaywalking ticket won’t change why I do that; it wouldn’t even begin to address this busyness I feel in my heart.
So what would change my behavior? Some ideas come to mind: First, I could get hit by a car; in that case, I would definitely be more careful the next time I cross the street. Even then, I may not give up jaywalking. (After all, there are surfers who, after been attacked by sharks, still return to surfing.)
Second, if a police officer stands at every intersection and block, and tickets everyone who jaywalks, then I would change my behavior.
Third, if while I am jaywalking, someone rushes to protect me from being hit by a car and is killed in my place, I would almost certainly never jaywalk again. In other words, if my breaking the law directly leads to another person’s death, I would feel compelled never to jaywalk again.
Let’s look at these options from God’s perspective: (1) if we get hit by a car every time we jaywalk, the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime; (2) if we were to imagine God as an omnipresent type of law enforcement officer, wouldn’t that affect our relationship with God? Would we follow God out of love or out of fear? (3) If someone else needs to be punished so that we might learn some kind of a lesson, this seems to make the least sense and the worst option of all. What if you take the punishment (i.e., hit by the car) instead of the person who actually jaywalks?
And that is precisely what Jesus did on the cross where the grace and love of God met the justice and wrath of God. Praise God for his mercy and grace! Praise God that we don’t receive perfect justice! Praise God that justice delayed isn’t always justice denied! That’s the justice of God.
Postscript: This thought exercise was not meant to perfectly describe the theological complexity and beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. But if it helps you, praise God! It if doesn’t help you, you are free to discard it!
Prayer: Father, thank you for your great love for me. Help me to remember that the direct consequence of all my sins was in fact, the cross of Jesus Christ! I want to live in the light of your mercy and grace, being transformed by your Spirit each day. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 16-17