Why Do Christians Think God's Judgment Is A Good Thing?

Justice is a time-honored virtue. It is a core American belief that we pledge “liberty and justice for all.” We celebrate it in our modern day folklore; the Hall of Justice is where Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all gather to fight crime and promote justice. Today we want justice for the oppressed and we want to make sure that we protect the rights of all. We want justice but we can’t seem to bring it about. Our court system seems broken and the oppressed get more and more oppressed. Despite our desire for justice everything today is not just.

The prophet Amos was sent during a time of economic growth and moral decline. The nation’s businesses were flourishing but justice in his society was declining. This blue-collar prophet came declaring that God’s justice would prevail when God brought his judgment. Today judgment isn’t very popular. We think we don’t like judgment because we’ve misunderstood the word. Judgment is often considered an arbitrary decision made by someone, but Biblical judgment brings about justice. True judgment means that justice wins and wrong is defeated. When we talk about God’s judgment we’re talking about the time when God will come and make everything right. In short, judgment is justice applied.

Amos describes God's judgment in Amos 5:24 (NRSV), “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” This beautiful imagery describes justice like water which is used everywhere to clean things up. When it’s spring pollen season and my black car turns yellow (yes that really happens in Kentucky) all I have to do is get a hose and spray it off. Water will wash the dirt away; it washes everything away that is not a part of my car. That’s how God’s judgment works. When God’s justice is applied through judgment he washes away everything that isn’t right.

God washes away the evil and through his judgment brings renewal. In this sense judgment is like tilling a garden. It prepares the ground for new growth. In Revelation we see a picture of God planting the new Jerusalem here on earth where everything is just and perfect. This happens only after the old has been washed away.

God’s judgment makes it possible for something new and just to grow. This is why Christians have long embraced the idea of God’s judgment as a good thing. We recognize that we are all evil, deserving of judgment, and that we want something new and just to happen in us. When a person recognizes their own sinfulness, they judge themselves. God can then do something new in their hearts. This is the idea of repentance. Repentance recognizes and admits our own evil surrendering it to God. God takes it away to the cross to start something new in our lives and that’s a very good thing.

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