Is God ever unfair?
Have you ever believed that God was treating you unfairly? I think everyone has at one time or another. I know I have and the Bible tells us about a man named Job who felt this way.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Job feared God and turned away from evil. He cared about the welfare of his children and offered sacrifices for them in case they had sinned, and God had blessed him with great wealth. It appeared that he was all set to live a life of piety and comfort.
Then something happened that turned his whole world upside down. First he lost his children and all of his wealth.
Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then he lost his health.
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
Most of the book of Job consists of a debate between Job and three of his friends over the reason for his suffering. They insisted that the suffering was the result of some sin in his life but he knew that was not the case. The debate ended when God spoke to Job.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.”
This was followed by a series of questions designed to show that Job was unable to understand the works of God and therefore had no right to question the justice of what he did. Here was Job’s response to the questions.
Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
God never explained to Job why he suffered; instead he demonstrated that his knowledge was so far superior to that of Job that Job had no right to expect that he could understand all that God did. He learned the truth that Paul would declare in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Of course those of us who have read the book of Job do know the reason for his suffering.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
I said at the beginning of this post that at times I have wondered about God’s fairness. In a few cases I have been able to see that the things I considered unfair turned out to be for my good. In the majority of the cases I never understood the reason but I have learned to trust God and not insist on an explanation.
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
While we are in this life we must walk by faith; a time is coming when we will no longer need faith.
Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
Even those who have rejected God and are condemned to eternal punishment will agree that God is just.
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus told a story about a rich man that died and what happened to him after death. (Some claim this is a parable and not to be interpreted literally. I have made a post in which I showed that this is not a parable but a report of something that actually happened: Lazarus and the rich man – parable or actual event? )
The rich man made two requests, both of which were denied.
And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.”
And he said, “Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
He did not ask why he was suffering or complain that his punishment wasn’t justified. When he died the blindness he had suffered during his life was lifted and he clearly saw how he had broken God’s commands and deserved to suffer for his sins.