Here’s my latest post from the ThinkTheology blog, posted last Thursday:
In our Bible study group last week we were looking at God’s judgement. The sermon that week had tackled the question, often raised by unbelievers, of how God can be loving and also a judge (to which I presume readers of this blog know the answer, but just in case – his love means he has to be just, because it would be a contradiction to be loving but to let evil go unpunished). But what else in God’s character qualifies him to be a judge, and allows us to trust his judgement?
He is omniscient
He sees every angle, knows every motivation, and every extenuating circumstance. Conflicting witness statements can’t confuse him, CCTV footage can’t be obscured from him. He has all the information he needs. He also, having been human, understands what it is like to be us. He gets it. ‘Omniscient’ can sometimes feel distant – the eye in the sky, Big Brother watching you – but he is also close, he walked among us. He sees the micro as well as the macro. He feels the emotions and the pressures and the fears.
He is impartial
He cannot be fooled by a sharp suit and smooth tongue, neither can he be swayed by a pretty face or attractive figure. He is not prejudiced against anyone based on their appearance, accent, attitude or age, or on their race, disability or gender identity. He knows and loves each of us equally, without fear or favour.
Speaking of which, he is all-powerful
He doesn’t need anything, so he can’t be bribed or corrupted. There is nothing he wants – not even people’s good opinion of him – so there is no danger that he will compromise his principles in order to win favour with anyone. Equally, no one has the power to harm him or take anything from him, so he can’t be threatened. He has nothing to gain and nothing to lose.
He is eternal
He is now, always has been and always will be the judge. He wrote the law, he understands it fully, and he alone administers justice. He has no term-limit, so he won’t get softer – or meaner – towards the end of his jurisdiction. He won’t get muddled in his old-age. Neither will he regret the decisions he made when he was young and foolish.
Linked to this, he is unchanging
His judgements do not build on those of other judges in other courts. They are not modified by other people’s opinions or persuasive arguments (Abraham and Sodom notwithstanding). They do not need to develop in line with new advances in human understanding.
He is omnipotent
He has the power to carry out his judgements. No one is going to be able to dig their way out of his jail cells or skip bail and hide under a fake name and a new hair colour. Stretched budgets won’t ever mean that he is under pressure to give lenient sentences. He will never make empty threats or promises he can’t keep.
And one more thing that recent events mean we need to point out: he is good
There are no skeletons in his closet. No-one is going to be able to bring up inappropriate behaviours, illegal activities or other indiscretions from his past to invalidate his appointment. He is without spot or blemish. Unimpeachable. Holy, holy, holy.
I found it such a helpful, revealing and worship-inspiring exercise to think through just some of the characteristics that reassure us that God’s are the hands we want to be in when judgement day comes. I’m sure there is much more – what else can you think of?