Justice Delayed

Justice Delayed
By: J. B. Hixson, Ph.D.

“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:49-50)

There is little joy in delayed justice. When justice cries out, it cries out for immediate action. When our hearts are burdened by unfair suffering, the last thing we want to do is wait. I recall watching one of those news magazine shows where they interviewed the wife of a murder victim. The man who committed this awful crime was scheduled for execution later in the week. The victim’s wife was asked how she would feel once the execution was carried out. She knew, of course, that executing the man who committed this crime would not bring her husband back. Yet, she took some comfort in knowing that justice would be served. She said, “The only thing that could have satisfied my need for justice more would have been for this execution to have taken place sooner.”

God’s Word is filled with promises of ultimate justice. Revelation 19:11-16 and Matthew 25:31-46 come to mind. Both passages point to Jesus’ return to earth, when He will rule in perfect peace and righteousness. For those of us who read the Bible, and believe it, we know who wins in the end. There is definitely comfort in knowing that justice will be served one day. However, waiting for that day is not always easy. Did you know that even Jesus Christ Himself longs to execute judgment? In Luke 12:49-50 Jesus tells us how He wishes the fire of judgment was already kindled. As He looked around at the pagans within the Roman Empire, as He witnessed the hypocrisy of the alleged religious leaders within Judaism, as He looked with compassion upon the less fortunate and disadvantaged members of the Greco-Roman world, His righteous anger was aroused and only the will of His Father in heaven prevented Him from executing judgment on sin at that time.

Jesus knew that He had a job to do. He had to go to Calvary. The time for judgment would come, but not yet. What does this tell us about God’s mercy and love? God loves the world so much that He is willing to delay justice in order that one more person might trust Christ for salvation and become part of the family of God. God could have sent His son to earth the first time as an instrument of wrath. Instead, Jesus came as a source of blessing and hope. Jesus could have destroyed the earth with a word. Instead, He saved the world by His death. Christ’s death on the cross satisfied God’s wrath so that anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ for eternal life receives it as a free gift, paid for by Jesus.  Those who have trusted in Christ alone for eternal life are no longer under God’s wrath.

Justice will be served one day when Christ returns to “tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:15). Until then, we wait.  Yet, we recognize that delayed justice is not always a bad thing. The fact that God is allowing sin to go on seemingly unchecked in many cases is an indication of His patience. Remember, “the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Try not to allow the injustices of this present life to rob you of the joy and hope we have in Christ. The next time you feel overwhelmed by feelings of injustice, just remind yourself that delayed justice is a sign of God’s grace and love. “Life is unfair!” But, “God is patient, God is gracious, and God is good.”

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