Rev. Dan Puckett: God’s justice rules over fairness

Published 10:58 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Somebody said, “God is not necessarily fair, but he is always just.”
There is an internal craving in all of us for justice, that is, for things to turn out right. We want the good person to win, we cheer for the underdog and love “happily ever after.”
There are many things that happen that we do not understand. The categories of neither fairness nor justice seem to apply. That is when we must rest in the sovereignty of God.
In the New Testament book of Acts 12, we see justice and sovereignty intermixed in a strange set of circumstances. The setting is in Jerusalem in the early church.
Herod was king. He ruled under the auspices of Rome. There was a continuing conflict between the established Jewish religion and the followers of Christ. Herod arrested some Christians in a political move to appease the Jews. He had James, the brother of John, killed (Acts 12:2). This was an arbitrary act. We see neither justice nor fairness served. Herod continued by arresting Peter and planned to kill him also.
God intervened with Peter and had an angel deliver him from the soldiers that were holding him (Acts 12:6-11). One might ask, “Why would God deliver Peter and allow James to be killed?” The answer might be because of the concerted prayer of the church for Peter (Acts 12:5), but we see that the prayer of the church was not accompanied by much faith (Acts 12:14-16). The people who were praying could not believe God had answered their prayers. Sound familiar? The answer to why James was killed and Peter was delivered rests in the sovereignty of God.
Now back to Herod. After Peter was delivered, Herod was very upset with the prison guards. They had no explanation for how Peter escaped, and obviously, Herod had no room for God in his mind, so he unfairly had the guards put to death even though they had no fault in the matter (Acts 12:18-19).
Herod went down to Caesarea and made some clever political moves, and on a particular day, made a great speech that the people applauded him for (Acts 12:22). At this point, God moved in and an angel of the Lord killed Herod because he did not acknowledge God in his success (Acts 12:23).
We all applaud the justice of God in the death of Herod but wonder why God did not kill him earlier.
Acts, chapter twelve, is a slice out of most of our lives. There is seeming unfairness, injustice, and the sovereignty of God all mixed in. The statement in Acts 12:24, puts it all in perspective: “But the word of God continued to increase and spread.”
God’s purposes will prevail. Life does not have to make sense to us, but we must live with an abiding confidence that God is in control and is making all things work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).