God is just and impartial
Ps 92:15/ Gen 18:25/ Deut 32:4/ Rom 2:11/ Ezek 18:25
God is unjust and partial
Gen 9:25/ Ex 20:5/ Rom 9:11-13/ Matt 13:12
1) What is the supposed contradiction and why is it believable?
GOD IS JUST
Genesis 18:25 says, “25Far be it from You to do such a thing–to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as do the wicked! Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth execute judgment and do righteously?”
Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “4He is the Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are law and justice. A God of faithfulness without breach or deviation, just and right is He.”
Psalms 92:15 says, “15[They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
Ezekiel 18:25 says, “25Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair and just. Hear now, O house of Israel: Is not My way fair and just? Are not your ways unfair and unjust?”
Romans 2:11 says, “11For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another].”
GOD IS UNJUST
Genesis 9:25 says, “25He exclaimed, Cursed be Canaan! He shall be the servant of servants to his brethren!”
Exodus 20:5 says, “5You shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me,”
Mathew 13:12 says, “12For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Romans 9:11-13 says, “11And the children were yet unborn and had so far done nothing either good or evil. Even so, in order further to carry out God’s purpose of selection (election, choice), which depends not on works or what men can do, but on Him Who calls [them], 12It was said to her that the elder [son] should serve the younger [son]. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (held in relative disregard in comparison with My feeling for Jacob).”
It is interesting to note the implications here. None of these references state that God is unjust, rather it is inferred from the context of the verses. I find it ironic that disbelievers of the bible say that “context doesn’t matter” although in this instance they are inferring from the context of these verses instead of what it is actually saying.
Although, not to be impartial (no pun intended), let’s entertain this supposed contradiction. It can be derived that in the first references, God is stated as just and impartial. In the last references, it seems as though God is being unjust and partial. He is cursing some, hating some, judging some and being on the outside looking in, it may seem like the righteous are being unfairly punished. It might appear that God is cursing and hating some without regard.
2) What is the truth in these verses and why do they NOT actually contradict each other?
I would like to first point out that the problem with these supposed contradictions is the same as the previous examples. Those that are judged, punished, hated, etc. by God have put themselves in that position. This is what justice means. Being just and impartial means following the rules and the consequences of violation of them. The Kingdom turns this concept on its head, however. More about this later.
In Genesis 18:25 we pick up a conversation between Abraham and God, where Abraham is questioning God’s intentions to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham’s cry (notice, another intervention by a prophet to save lives) is that if God is just, He will surely save those who do not deserve death. God sent angels to rescue Lot, Abraham’s relative, from the city before it was destroyed. We see this in Genesis 19:29, “29When God ravaged and destroyed the cities of the plain [of Siddim], He [earnestly] remembered Abraham [imprinted and fixed him indelibly on His mind], and He sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when He overthrew the cities where Lot lived.” It is important to note, however, that God merely gave Lot the opportunity to be saved. Lot had to actually choose to believe the message God had sent and take action on it. This is the same as accepting Christ’s forgiveness for our sins and being saved from eternal condemnation.
The book of Deuteronomy, as was mentioned before, is Moses last reminder of the law before he dies and Israel enters the Promised Land. Chapter 32 is a worship song sung by Moses at the end of his message to the Israelites. It is a hymn that reminds Israel of the rocky relationship they have had with God to help them remember what all they went through and what God brought them through. He exemplifies that although they were constantly turning their backs on God, He still remained faithful in His love for them. This is the same love He shows us after we become believers and continue to sin. He still loves us, although we turn our backs and disappoint Him.
Psalm 92 is a worship hymn that was sung on the Sabbath as part of the Jewish praise. Its purpose was to praise God for His justice. He judges the wicked and blesses the righteous. We can see this directly in a few choice lines within the Psalm, “9For behold, Your adversaries, O Lord, for behold, Your enemies shall perish; all the evildoers shall be scattered. 12The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].” There is also a line that actually explains the reason for these supposed contradictions. It is a statement that resounds in a way that explains why some see God as evil and unjust, “6A man in his rude and uncultivated state knows not, neither does a [self-confident] fool understand this:7That though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to be destroyed forever.” It is not of coincidence that this Psalm was picked as part of this contradiction.
We’ve talked about Ezekiel before, being the prophet that was to help the Israelites in captivity to realize their wrongdoings and the reason behind their current situation. Chapter 18 is an issue that God is addressing about a certain proverb that sons are paying for the iniquities of their fathers. This is something that is actually repeated through the scriptures, starting back in Exodus (when God said that the future generation will pay for the unfaithfulness of the current generation by wandering for 40 years in the desert). The point that was distorted is that 1) some iniquities of men set in motion a chain reaction that creates the suffering of future generations. An example would be the corruption of executives in this generation is paving the way for difficulties in the same field of work in the future (some would even argue the economy as a whole is affected and passed on). 2) The point God was making that as fathers act (being the leader of the family and teaching his younger generation) will pass on the lessons of his sins, instilling those same actions in his children. This chapter, however, explains that we are not judged on someone else’s actions, rather our own. It bears credence to read the whole message, “19Yet do you say, Why does not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son has done that which is lawful and right and has kept all My statutes and has done them, he shall surely live.20The soul that sins, it [is the one that] shall die. The son shall not bear and be punished for the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear and be punished for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him only, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon the wicked only.21But if the wicked man turns from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all My statutes and does that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.22None of his transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for his righteousness which he has executed [for his moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation], he shall live.23Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? says the Lord, and not rather that he should turn from his evil way and return [to his God] and live? 24But if the righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered. In his trespass that he has trespassed and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die.25Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair and just. Hear now, O house of Israel: Is not My way fair and just? Are not your ways unfair and unjust?26When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and dies in his sins, for his iniquity that he has done he shall die.27Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his life.28Because he considers and turns away from all his transgressions which he has committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.29Yet says the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not fair and just! O house of Israel, are not My ways fair and just? Are not your ways unfair and unjust?30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin and so shall they not be a stumbling block to you.31Cast away from you all your transgressions by which you have transgressed against Me, and make you a new mind and heart and a new spirit. For why will you die, O house of Israel?32For I have no pleasure in the death of him who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore turn (be converted) and live!” That last verse is the reason He sent Christ to die for our sins once and for all, so that we may live!!!
In Romans 2, the apostle Paul is explaining the difference of sin between the Jew and the Gentile. His point in verse 11 is that God judges all who have sinned as unrighteous, regardless if it is by the Law (the Mosaic Law issued to the Jews to follow) or the law written on the Gentile heart (this is our knowing of good and evil). This is evident in verses 15-16, “15They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their [moral] decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them]16On that day when, as my Gospel proclaims, God by Jesus Christ will judge men in regard to the things which they conceal (their hidden thoughts).” The commonality here being a reflection of what Christ said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.” In following the Law, it is a reflection of our love for God (as we discussed in the last contradiction.
As we flip back to Genesis 9 to start looking at the supposed verses that show God is not just or impartial, we see that this curse is not from God but from Noah! I had to double check and make sure I had the right verse. This comes from the story where one of Noah’s sons, Ham (the father of Canaan) dishonors his father. As was the norm, Noah punished his son with this curse. I honestly can’t believe people claim these contradictions without researching them…and the fact that people actually believe them!
Exodus 20 is the issuing of the Ten Commandments. In verse 5, God is ordering to have no gods before Him and that in doing so, as the tradition of idol worship is passed down through generations, so too will be the punishment for the behavior. It is reversible, however as long as the following generations decide to uphold His commandment, as seen in the very next verse, “6But showing mercy and steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
In Mathew 13, Jesus is telling a parable and the disciples decide to ask Him why He speaks in parables. His full answer is, “11And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.12For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.13This is the reason that I speak to them in parables: because having the power of seeing, they do not see; and having the power of hearing, they do not hear, nor do they grasp and understand.14In them indeed is the process of fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: You shall indeed hear and hear but never grasp and understand; and you shall indeed look and look but never see and perceive.” This concept is repeated in Mathew 25 in the parable of the talents. Another way of saying this is that those of us with faith in Christ will continue to grow in Christ, however those who do not have faith in Christ will continue to grow away from Christ. It isn’t a judgment, merely a statement of fact. If we are in Christ, we will mature and increase, if we are not, we will wither away. It is a spiritual explanation of “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Is it fair? It might not seem that way, especially to one that is not a believer (remember what we read in Psalm 92!) however the fairness is that EVERYONE has the opportunity to believe and follow, although some do not and will not. The pride of man is the cause of the fall to nothingness.
In Romans, Paul is explaining God’s sovereignty. He uses the Old Testament story of Esau and Jacob to make his point, that God is God and has control over everything. If we continue from the referenced passage, we read, “ 14What shall we conclude then? Is there injustice upon God’s part? Certainly not!15For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion (pity) on whom I will have compassion.16So then [God’s gift] is not a question of human will and human effort, but of God’s mercy. [It depends not on one’s own willingness nor on his strenuous exertion as in running a race, but on God’s having mercy on him.]17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, I have raised you up for this very purpose of displaying My power in [dealing with] you, so that My name may be proclaimed the whole world over.18So then He has mercy on whomever He wills (chooses) and He hardens (makes stubborn and unyielding the heart of) whomever He wills. 19You will say to me, Why then does He still find fault and blame us [for sinning]? For who can resist and withstand His will? 20But who are you, a mere man, to criticize and contradict and answer back to God? Will what is formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus?21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same mass (lump) one vessel for beauty and distinction and honorable use, and another for menial or ignoble and dishonorable use?” Does this seem unfair? Certainly to those God doesn’t have compassion on, or hates. However, acceptance of His sovereignty is the whole point! Those that are hardened, ungrateful, hateful, ignorant, and wholly unbelieving have a purpose as well, just as Pharaoh had a purpose. Paul continues, “22What if God, although fully intending to show [the awfulness of] His wrath and to make known His power and authority, has tolerated with much patience the vessels (objects) of [His] anger which are ripe for destruction? 23And [what if] He thus purposes to make known and show the wealth of His glory in [dealing with] the vessels (objects) of His mercy which He has prepared beforehand for glory,24Even including ourselves whom He has called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles (heathen)? 25Just as He says in Hosea, Those who were not My people I will call My people, and her who was not beloved [I will call] My beloved.26And it shall be that in the very place where it was said to them, You are not My people, they shall be called sons of the living God.” You see, eventually they WILL believe, it is just a matter of time. Even those that are not seemingly loved by God ARE loved by God. The faith He bestows upon them is according to His plan. This is why we mustn’t be frustrated about not being able to “convert” someone, because it is not up to us. Look at Paul himself. Being a hardcore Jew and persecutor of Christ’s followers, used as the very tool to show His Mercy and Grace and the power of His calling in anyone’s life.
3) How can we use this to educate ourselves and others to further the Kingdom?
I mentioned before that God’s Justice turns our concept of justice on its head. You see, we look at our justice systems (not just the US, but around the world) and we see their corruption and the injustices of the justice systems. We then try to apply this to a system of justice that is truly, at the core, just and righteous and pick it apart using the concepts of man. We try to compare the actions of man to the actions of God and equate God to man. This is the motivation behind the contradictions of this list I have been studying.
By definition, justice is: the administering of deserved punishment or reward. This is the beauty of grace. God is unjust in this manmade sense. If we truly got what we deserved, we would all be condemned to eternal damnation, the cost of our sin and iniquity. His free gift to us is atonement from this judgment. Jesus Christ intervened and took our punishment. It is as if every one of us sat in a courtroom and after overwhelming evidence against us, even sometimes our own admission, we were found guilty and the punishment: death. Just then a man walks in, one you’ve never known or seen, interrupts the court session and says, “If the defendant is willing, I will take his (or her) stead for the punishment.” In accepting this sacrifice, we can live a new life. We have the opportunity to live out this second chance. Others, however, refuse the sacrifice. Whether the reason is pride, distrust, a guilty feeling of responsibility or unworthiness, they refuse Christ’s sacrifice and die to their sin. We ARE unworthy, but the offer still stands. What will you choose?