But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.” – Ezekiel 33:19-20 NKJV
God, the unfair God?
Have you ever thought to yourself that the Lord was an “unfair” God? If you can say that you have never done such a thing, I will tell you that you’re a far better person that I could ever be. I was the kid that was quick to point out when things were not going fairly; when somebody cheated or I felt cheated. I still really dislike the fact a kid beat me in a race when I was in the 4th grade because he cheated! I just don’t care much for things being unfair, and the one that is said about life is that life is unfair.
I have had my fair share of things to happen to me in life that I simply thought was not fair. I certainly know that I am not the only one that has had unfair things happen to him. When these “bad breaks” happen, many of us turn to God and we point the finger at the Lord. There are many people who feel that God is an unfair God in the way He makes decisions.
Many of us believers are some of the Lord’s biggest critics. We think to ourselves how we are not as “blessed” as others are. When things don’t go our way, we get upset at the Lord and begin to ask why? When we lose something or someone, we say, “it’s not fair!”.
We seem to forget that God is a righteous God! God is always right – we must understand this! The Lord is right in His thoughts; He is also right in His way and His judgment. Who are we to say otherwise? I say this often, but it is true, we seem to forget our place in this whole creation – God is God and we are His creation.
Is God Unfair?
You should read Ezekiel 33:10-20 to get a better understanding of today’s key text. Deeper studying of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Isaiah, and Jeremiah would also be helpful for getting a fuller understanding of the shape Israel was in, spiritually, with the Lord. At the time of what we read in our key, Jerusalem is set to fall to the Babylonians and all of Israel is set to be carried away to Babylon.
God says to Ezekiel, deliver this message to the people of Israel. God says (v.12), the righteousness of the righteous man would not deliver him in the day of his transgression. He also said, of the wicked, that the wicked would not fall because of his wickedness in the day he turns from his wickedness. How does this make you feel?
The one thing I know is that most people feel that good should always come to those that are good, and that nothing but evil should come to those that are bad. We can’t stand to see those that we deem to be “bad” get rewarded with good things. This is the gist of why so many believers today get upset when they see the unfaithful get “extraordinary blessings”. We think, again, “Why God? Why are you treating them that way?”
The ancient Israelites were no different in their thoughts in our text for today. We see that they (v.20) were left thinking that God was not being fair. Their anger: those that had been good for all their life could not understand why the Lord would punish them along with the wicked. The righteous ones were righteous in their own heart, so they felt that such a severe punishment for their righteousness was not right. Let me note: their righteousness (good) was according to their standards – not the Lord.
I want to point something out from this scripture. During this time, we must remember that all of Israel, good and bad, was carried away to Babylon. In other words, the “good” was punished right along with the bad – this was the Lord’s judgment. I must also remind you that the Lord is one day going to judge us all (everyone to have ever existed). Scripture says (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11), “every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
Does this example in scripture then mean that God is going to judge me of my sin, even though I am a good person? Am I going to be punished? Will my righteousness, my faith, not save me in that day of judgment? Can I lose the salvation that I believe, and have faith I have gained? Here is where today’s thought, Our Gracious God, enters in. You see, God is a gracious God and it is high time we start recognizing His graciousness.
God, the gracious God
When I say gracious here, I want it to be clear that I am not talking about the Lord solely as a kind, courteous, and nice God – that is what we think of when we hear the word gracious. No, when I say that God is gracious, I am talking about the Lord’s love! God’s love is unmerited – undeserved. Think about it, what have you really done for God to choose to love you?
I listen to how people talk about their dog’s love, and I think about my old crazy dog and how he loves his masters. People often say, “What have we done to deserve a dog’s love?” I think about all those days where he had to be fed and cared for – just for starters! What have or could we possible do to actually deserve the Lord’s love?
We, mankind, are a rebellious and wicked creation. Time and time again, repeatedly, we have chosen to ignore the Lord for the world. In the garden, man chose to listen to the snake (Satan) over trusting in the Lord’s way. We are hateful, prideful, and full of violence and murder – what have we done to deserve the Lord’s love? At every turn, we find a new way to be mean spirited and evil towards each other. Yet, the Lord says (Ezekiel 33:11): “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked”.
God says that the wicked (that’s us – mankind) will not fall (die) if the wicked turns to Him. Herein is God’s nature shown towards us. We are wicked, and we think that nothing but evil should follow those that are wicked, right? God says, no, if the wicked turns to me, I will lift up my ear to his cry! I don’t know about you, but I am certainly thankful that the Lord chose to hear the cry of this sinner!
You see, we take God’s love for granted. We treat God’s love like how we treat those around us that love us – we take it for granted. We don’t fully understand what it means that God chooses to love us. If we had a full understanding of what this means, we would not take this life or His love for granted; we would not take the promise of salvation for granted! We would not be carried away with the thought that the Lord is somehow unfair towards us.
Where all of Israel, good and bad, was carried away to Babylon, God says that He is going to judge each of us accordingly. This means, in that day of judgment, the righteous will not suffer with the wicked! This brings joy to my soul. When we, the believers, still go out here and sin (and we know better) God still loves us. Now, God is still going to judge us, but we don’t lose our salvation because of our faith in His Son. You see, that is the Lord’s grace. We have earned a punishment that we will never receive because Christ took on that punishment for us!
I ask you, is that fair? Even I know that’s not right, by my standards, but the Lord’s standards (way) is far better than mine or your way. The Apostle Paul said (Ephesians 2:8) we are saved not because of anything that we have done but by the grace of God. This Thanksgiving, be thankful for God’s graciousness. Where would we be without God’s love?
Never think that the Lord is unfair. The Lord goes well beyond being fair through His great love for us – `though we don’t deserve His love.