Jeremiah, the last of the pre-exilic prophets to Judah, described the Lord as “the habitation of justice” (Jer. 50:7). Such a description seems particularly apropos given the judgment that was about to come upon God’s people at the hands of a heathen nation, Babylon, itself teeming with sin. Such occasions tend to call into question the nature of God in the minds of His rebellious and unbelieving subjects. And so, Jeremiah declared to Judah (and both assure and warns all people of all time) that the Lord is “the habitation of justice.” That truth suggests at least two profound implications.
1. God is the Arbiter of what is right. In other words, when human notions of morality conflict with what the Bible declares to be God’s view of right and wrong, it is God’s view as set forth in the Word that is right and to which believers must hold. Unfortunately, examples of such conflict are legion in our society. Some would argue that a human fetus is just a blob of protoplasm that can be aborted at the whim of its mother. However, David observed: “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psa. 139:16). So the truth is that abortion is murder. Some would argue that spanking a child is always child abuse. Contrariwise, Proverbs declares that “he that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [i.e., “early” or “diligently”]” (13:24). To neglect corporal punishment is to be guilty of child abuse. Some would have us believe that homosexuality is an acceptable alternate lifestyle. God views it as “vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly [“indecent”], and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (Rom. 1:26b, 27). Homosexuality is a sin that carries the seeds of its own judgment. Some would contend that capital punishment is “strange and unusual” and should be abandoned. But God has declared that “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6). Thus capital punishment affirms the character and work of God. Examples could be multiplied. These are sufficient to illustrate the point that believers must obey God, who is the “habitation of justice,” when He sets forth His moral laws—even if society censors us. For God is the Final Authority regarding what is moral and right.
2. We live in a moral universe. A broader corollary of the first point is that we live in a universe that is governed by God who is the definition of morality. What God does is right. What God does is always right. For example, so-called “acts of God” are in a very real sense just that. We need not fear attributing to God the destructive acts of nature. When a hurricane, a tornado, or a tsunami wreaks devastation and death on “innocent” people (often including real believers), we must remember that justice is not meted out ultimately until eternity. And as all die sooner or later, God extends to some long life, to others a brief life. In doing so, He does what He pleases, and what He pleases is right. If a believer dies “early,” then He is blessed with an early escape from the burdens of this life into the blessed Presence of the Lord. If a sinner dies “early,” then he has been delivered from a life of extended sin and even greater judgment. The Word of God is replete with macroscopic examples of such justice. Noah’s flood, the Egyptian bondage, the Babylonian captivity, the bondage under Rome, and the coming seven-year tribulation are all examples of a just God unabashedly causing or permitting great distress to large groups of people. Is this right? Is it just? We must answer in the affirmative, even though we may not understand the particulars of any particular tribulation because the Word of God assures us that all that God does is right. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Abraham asks rhetorically (Gen. 18:25). Those who rest in the sovereign justice of the Lord realize a security and a peace that are without parallel. They can rejoice in the midst of calamity—not because of the immediate human distress that is being experienced, but because God is accomplishing His purpose and doing what is right in view of eternity. May we rejoice in our Lord and Savior who is “the habitation of justice.”
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