“‘Listen to me, my people. Hear me, Israel, for my law will be proclaimed, and my justice will become a light to the nations’” (Isaiah 51:4, NLT).
When people do terrible things to each other, we often hear the families of the victims call for justice. But when we say we want justice, what we really mean is we want someone to be punished, and usually severely. It’s a normal reaction to being wronged and understandable from our limited human perspective.
We don’t understand justice from God’s point of view, but we can be pretty sure it’s a far cry from we think it should look like. God’s justice is a perfect light that shines on everyone, just like the sun. It is always paired with righteousness, which is another hard word to pin down as it’s usually paired with “self.” God’s justice and righteousness are pure, perfect and always rooted in love because he is love. One day we’ll understand and love justice as much as he does and everyone will live in its light.
“‘For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead’” (Acts 17:31, NLT).
When we read the Bible, we don’t just read it. We bring perspective, world view, prejudice, background, culture, gender, birth order and maybe even our preference for vanilla or chocolate. So a verse like this means different things to different people and religions. The word judging usually conjures up something negative, which only adds to the mix.
I would like to offer this perspective: perhaps it doesn’t mean what we think it means. With that in mind, let’s focus on the most important part of this verse: Jesus. God’s perfect justice will be done by and through the one he raised from the dead, which means we don’t have to imagine any scary scenarios or be afraid of his judging. However it happens (or has happened), it will be done in love, with mercy, grace and kindness.