God’s Justice and Mercy

           Humans have a hard time balancing justice and mercy. After any kind of conflict, seeking retribution is one of the most sought-after resolutions. As a result, justice can be used as a cover for vengeance, furthering the spread of conflict. On the other hand, forgiveness is commonly misinterpreted as a full acquittal with a “forgive and forget” attitude that can result in little justice. However, God with His divine wisdom can righteously balance justice and mercy.

During Jonah’s life, God told the prophet that He planned to destroy the Assyrian capital Nineveh. God was justified to destroy the city because Jonah 1:2 reads, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” He showed mercy by sending Jonah to Ninevah to warn them of His plan to destroy the city in 40 days. God could have laid waste to them instantly but gave the Assyrians a chance to repent. Jonah 3:5-10 accounts that the Assyrians believed God’s message that He gave Jonah. The king even issued a decree that no man or beast in the whole city can eat or drink, that they should wear sackloth, and repent. Due to their heartfelt repentance, God forgave the city and relented of the forthcoming destruction. Through the prophet Jonah, God shows us that His life-saving message is intended for all and that those who listen, repent, and obey will be saved from destruction.

The ultimate salvation from destruction comes from Jesus. John 5:24 records Him saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Our sin makes us destined for destruction. Yet, He mercifully gives us the opportunity to repent and believe through His son Jesus so we can be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 reads, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Mankind deserves death for their sins. That would be just. Yet, God mercifully had His son take our place and die. By doing so despite being innocent, God exalted and resurrected Him. If we embrace Him and accept that He died and was resurrected for our sake, we will also have everlasting life.

If we do not embrace God then we will surely die in the next life. Were sin abounds there is no love or place for God. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” We must choose whether we will accept God’s mercy or justifiable wrath. Will you choose to repent or face destruction in the end?