The US legal system is based upon a presumption of innocence. This simply means that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
Sometimes, the justice system one is raised under, determines how they see God’s justice, or perhaps, how they think God’s justice system should work.
At times we can read the bible’s account of how a matter unfolded, see God in action, and come away feeling that the final decision seemed a bit unfair according to our way of thinking. We balance that with the firm conviction that God is always right and righteous.
Such is the case when I read the passage in 1 Kings 13. Through the years I have had a difficult time fully understanding this story.
You may be familiar with it.
* God sent a prophet from Judah to Bethel to prophesy against the altar Jeroboam had made for the children of Israel on which they worshipped false Gods.
* The young prophet is told by God to not eat bread or drink water in Bethel, and to go home by another way from which he had come.
* The prophet obeys God, prophesies, is protected by the Holy Spirit, heals the king, and when asked to return to the king’s house, refuses, by stating he is under orders from God not to eat or drink, but leave … so he leaves.
* An old prophet of God in Bethel is informed by his sons of all that this young prophet had done and said. The old prophet inquires by what way did this young prophet leave town.
* The old prophet mounts his donkey and goes out after the young prophet finding him sitting under an oak tree resting.
* The old prophet ask him to come home with him and eat bread.
* The young prophet rehearses what God had earlier told him - “don’t eat bread or drink water, and go home by another way.”
This is where it gets challenging for me:
* 1 Kings 13:18 (NKJV)
18 He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’"(He was lying to him.)
19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.
20 Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back;
21 and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you,
22 ‘but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’"
23 ¶ So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse.
Am I the only one who has some problems understanding what just happened here?
Years ago when I first began to study this passage, I respectfully said in my heart to the Lord, Lord, it looks to me that this is just not fair.
I believe that after much seeking, the Lord answered me with His kind voice and caused me to understand that justice and fairness are not always the same.
The Lord may not always seem fair, but He is always just.
I attempted to instill this in my children’s lives when they were growing up. On purpose I did not spend the same amount of money on each of them for Christmas or at birthdays but got them what I believed they wanted or needed --- what was best.
I did not always allow them to do the same things or go the same places. Rather I attempted to make them understand that what often may seem fair, may not be best.
Just because one person gets to date or drive at the age of 16 and another sibling does not, may not mean that a parent is playing favorites. There are many issues at stake and a much broader perspective than just what seems fair to the affected individual.
I believe that one the most enlightening subjects I have ever attempted to study is the subject of God’s Justice.
Without further ado, let’s peer just a little into this subject.
Here are some things I have learned about God’s Justice.
1. Every person is 100% responsible to God for their actions and decisions.
* 1 Kings 13 - the young prophet did disobey God - he had reasons why, good ones, but they did not cover the fact that God had directly told him not to do what he obviously later did.
* Obedience is our proper response to God’s word.
2. Forgiveness and restoration are two separate issues.
* A person can be forgiven without being restored.
> “You haven’t forgiven me because you still treat me like you don’t trust me.” It’s because I don’t trust you!
> Forgiveness is free, paid for by Jesus.
> Restoration may take time and effort from all parties.
While we are on this subject:
* Forgiveness does not mean exemption from consequences
> Deuteronomy 3
25 ‘I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’
26 "But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the LORD said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.
27 ‘Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.
* David’s sin with Bathsheba & their son’s death
* God does not have to forgive (Esau’s quest)
> Hebrews 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
> 2 Timothy 2:25 & 26 “if …”
> God does not have to forgive - God chooses to forgive
> He chooses each time you ask Him acknowledging the truth
* Mercy is greater than judgment
* James 2:13
3. If we roll a stone it will roll back on us - Proverbs 26:27
* Judges 1:7 (Adonibezek) “God has repaid me.”
4. If someone smites us on one cheek, we turn the other - Luke 6:29
* 2 Samuel 16 Shimei the cursing rock thrower
> “Maybe the Lord will look on my affliction and be good to me for the cursing I am taking today”
* Pray for those who persecute us and treat us unjustly
> Let God vindicate us or punish others if He sees fit
5. It ain’t over until it’s over
* Malachi 3:17-18 “ In that day … then you will see”
* 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
* Numbers 14:18 God, by no means, clears the guilty …* “You might get by, but you won’t get away!”