Is Justice Possible? A 7-Day Devotional

Day 1 of 7 • This day’s reading


God Can Only Be Just

The Bible shows us how God can never be guilty of injustice. In Genesis 18 an angel of the Lord tells Abraham that God is going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lives in the city of Sodom. The two cities were famous for their sexual depravity. Our term sodomy remains in use more than four thousand years later as a reminder of the violent homosexual activity present in those cities.

When God reveals these plans to Abraham, we might expect Abraham to respond with relief and righteous indignation, since he is aware of Sodom and Gomorrah’s wickedness. But he doesn’t. He asks God a series of questions, probing His justice. He asks, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?” (Gen. 18:23–24).

Abraham is asking, “Is this right? Is this just? Yes, I know the wicked deserve to be punished, but it is right to punish the righteous along with them?”

I remember in junior high when our entire math class was forced to stay after school because someone in the class was misbehaving when the teacher’s back was turned. I recognize that teaching math to a class of squirrely preadolescents can be worse than solitary confinement at San Quentin, but I also remember thinking that the sweeping detention didn’t seem right. One person was guilty—but we were all being punished.

This is Abraham’s point. He knows that God will not act unjustly. “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you!” (Gen. 18:25a).

Abraham then drives the truth home: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen. 18:25b). He asks a rhetorical question. Can the just Judge act unjustly? The answer is, of course, no. The Judge of the entire earth cannot act unjustly, because He is righteous. He will never do anything that is not right, just, and holy.

Discussion Question: How does this passage and reflection shape your prayers when you witness injustice and suffering?