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A Deeper Look at God's Justice and Mercy

Posted Mar 03, 2022 by Allan Gathoni in First Angel's Message
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Upon reading the book ‘’Acts of our Gentle God”, it impressed me to look into the First Angels message. This message contains an everlasting Gospel to be preached to all nations:

Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

What does it mean to fear God?

What is it to fear, and who is this God we are to fear?

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1John 4:18)

Ideally, love (Agape) excludes fear associated with terror; as this brings torment and would be inconsistent with happiness for humans to continually enjoy a relationship with God.

To fear here means to have a holy regard for all that He does for us. Since He is our life source, we reverence His words and laws because they are our connection to life. We are to have an understanding of how He is upholding all creation, and that if we sin and stray from Him we bring calamity upon ourselves.

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5)

Thus worshipping the right God, and knowing what He is like, is hugely important.

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

The message that Elijah had for Israel was to choose between the Lord God and another god (1 Kings 18:21). This means in these last days we should expect the same dilemma regarding the God we will serve. We cannot reverence God that we don’t know of.

Similarly, we need to understand what God’s glory is, which refers to His character. It is by looking at the face of Jesus Christ that we can see the character of God.

Often times when we raise the points of discussion on God’s Character, focusing upon His love and goodness and declaring that ‘’He is all light and there is no darkness in Him’’, there will be someone who is eager to remind us that we must also not forget that He is also a God of justice.

It is our position that words such as “justice,” when applied to the Creator, must be defined carefully. We must not fall into the trap of creating God in our own image. This is what happens when we believe that because the Scriptures say that we are created in His image (Gen 1:27), therefore, we believe that God is like us. For instance, we reason that as we get angry, it must be that God gets angry in the same way too.

The Scriptures do indicate that God has wrath and anger and that He is an administrator of vengeance and justice, but never do they say that we as carnal humanity can liken our emotional states and passions to the Divine Mind and Character.

Good Bible students – those that study deeper and compare concepts from various parts of the Bible together along with how Jesus explains them – are familiar with Biblical descriptions of how God expresses His anger, how He administers justice, what His wrath/vengeance is, in contrast to how man thinks and operates. They are vastly different, as “the heavens are higher than the earth” (Isa. 55:9) and you will notice that this statement is within the context of the promise of God’s mercy and forgiveness (vs 7). It is man’s sinful ideas of righteousness and justice that make it so difficult for him to forgive and be merciful. Thus we find it extremely difficult to see how it is the God can work all things for good – his justice and mercy going hand in hand – due to his being the designer and sustainer of the fabric of the universe.

In our minds, justice is defined by what is not justice: the vengeance of death on those who sin. We see that this idea was originated by Satan, the master deceiver, which we inherited from him:

In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God, and defied His will, Satan exulted. It was proved, he declared, that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven. Because he, after his rebellion, had been banished from heaven, Satan claimed that the human race must be forever shut out from God’s favor. God could not be just, he urged, and yet show mercy to the sinner. {DA 761.4}

The idea of things being equitable i.e., being fair arose in heaven through Satan’s own idea of justice. Here is another example:

The exaltation of the Son of God as equal with the Father was represented as an injustice to Lucifer, who, it was claimed, was also entitled to reverence and honor. If this prince of angels could but attain to his true, exalted position, great good would accrue to the entire host of heaven; for it was his object to secure freedom for all. (PP 37.1)

Lucifer was saying that God is not just because, he, lucifer, did not get what he thought he deserved, which was equality with the Son of God. Lucifer has redefined justice/fairness to suit his view of his alleged treatment from God. He knows that a deception strategy works on us due to our sinful human societies being built on his principles, so he repeats it over and over again to us.

We read many times in the Scriptures that God’s mercy endures forever, so whatever path we take to interpret the Bible language of His wrath must fit consistently with this picture of the eternal mercy and forgiveness of God.

God does not change (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). This is an important characteristic we ought to remember always and we do well to fix it indelibly in our minds. When He speaks, whatever it is that He declares or brings about, stands forever (Ps. 33:9, 11; Isa. 55:11). Reading the Old and New Testament, it may seem that God changes His way of operating, but when we understand the subject of God’s “permissive will”, we have an entirely new perspective from which to interpret the Scriptures.

God always acts according to the same set of principles, never deviating in the slightest. The reason He appears changeable is because He makes accommodations to man’s ignorance and hardness of heart. We see this when the Pharisees question Jesus about divorce when Jesus said for no man to divorce:

They [The Pharisees] say unto him [Jesus], “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?”

He [Jesus] saith unto them, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:7-8)

God therefore gives instructions within humanity’s faulty paradigms but this does not mean He condones them. God hates sin but loves the sinner. It is thus that His first work is to show us the sinfulness of sin. He wants his children to see the results of their thinking and see the need of Christ for help: Check (Mirror and Lie Principle.)

How readest thou? We should not be tempted to assume God thinks as we do. For instance, Did Jesus repudiate the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” system of law or did He not? If that is the case, this may sound as if God stands as a destroyer/one who pays back--as man does-- and this notion of justice is entirely rooted in carnality. But our troubles from sin are not caused by God paying it back to us, but by His forsaking us (which is actually us forsaking Him, because we ignore Him and doubt Him):

Deut 31:17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, are not these evils come upon us, because our God [is] not among us?

31:18  And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.

God’s dealing with sin and sinners is according to a solitary and undeviating principle. God is unchanging. There is one perfect way to destroy and that is by love, not force.

 “Compelling power is found only under Satan's government. The Lord's principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God's government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power” (DA 759.1).

We cannot divide up all the destructive acts of God into two columns and put “God gives over” at the head of one column and “God did these ones Himself” under the other. There is no Biblical evidence for there being two categories. “The presentation of these principles – goodness, mercy, and love – is to be used”, and when this presentation is rejected, man destroys himself.

God destroys no man. Everyone who is destroyed will have destroyed himself. Everyone who stifles the admonitions of conscience is sowing the seeds of unbelief, and these will produce a sure harvest. By rejecting the first warning from God [God’s offer of mercy, His attempt to bring Egypt back under His protective cover], Pharaoh of old sowed the seeds of obstinacy, and he reaped obstinacy. God did not compel him to disbelieve. The seed of unbelief which he sowed produced a harvest of its kind. Thus his resistance continued, until he looked upon his devastated land, upon the cold, dead form of his first-born, and the first-born of all in his house and of all the families in his kingdom, until the waters of the sea closed over his horses and his chariots and his men of war. His history is a fearful illustration of the truth of the words that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7. Did men but realize this, they would be careful what seed they sow. (COL 84.4)

There are passages and stories that say God Himself did it, compared with other passages that show the mechanism: Mrs. White says that angels of God destroyed Jerusalem so that one stone was not left upon another. We know from actual fact of history that the Roman armies under Titus razed the city. The Bible says that God slew Saul. We know from the account that Saul killed himself and that this was the wrath of God (1Chron. 10:14, Hos. 13:11). The Bible says God incited David to take the census, but when the curtain is pulled back, we see that God, in His anger, gave David over to Satan, who was the one who actually incited David to take the census (2 Sam. 24:1, 1 Chron. 21:1).

It remains that the burden of proof is upon the advocate of a destroying God to show that God kills as man kills. “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” (James 1:20).

To say that God uses creative power to make or gather together forces of nature or inspire men or angels to do destructive or killing acts is in fact God working with carnal principles, according to the wrath of man, according to eye for eye retributive principles.

God desires us to use our reasoning powers and to understand how He operates.

“All whom God has blessed with reasoning powers are to become intellectual Christians” (RH, March 8, 1887 par. 1).

For example, the law says ‘’Do not kill’’ and God’s character is a transcript of His law. That’s His nature. Jesus never killed or destroyed anyone. Distinctions between “kill” and “murder” are artificial, they come from human reasoning. Jesus never returned evil for evil (1 Peter 3:9, Romans 12:17-21), and so are Christians not to cause any sort of harm to others.

“Study the character of God” (CT 402.2).

“There are yet new views of truth to be seen, and much to be understood of the character and attributes of God…” (FE 444.2).

God refused to use his power to destroy the sinner at the beginning of the rebellion. He is not going to do it in the end. It is sin that destroys, not God. But if God stepped aside and let the full consequence immediately come to bear, it would have looked like He did it and it would have played into Satan’s lies about Him being an arbitrary dictator. What God does is extend life to all, that all things may become clear before He finally, at the end of time, shows the full truth of everything that has happened, which will wipe out sin and whatever identifies itself with sin.

There is justice/righteousness/mercy and agape in God.

How do you see your God?  I invite you to study prayerfully and not resist conviction of the Spirit of Christ as you weigh the evidences on the subject of God’s character. Our Father has promised to set us straight about Him:

Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Blessings, Allan