In the famous story of Noah, we are confronted with divine judgment which is a problem for many people. Modern people often find the notion of divine judgment distressing and even primitive.
Miroslav Volf is a Croatian. As you can imagine, being from the Balkans, he is intimately familiar with injustice. Volf writes this, “Violence thrives secretly nourished by belief in a God who refuses to wield the sword.” If we don’t believe in a God who enacts justice, we will be tempted to take matters into our own hands. If you get rid of divine judgment, how does the cycle of violence stop? If you long for the cycle of violence to end, then you need a God of judgment.
This is what led Scott Sauls to conclude the following:
“…we need a God who get angry. We need a God who will protect his kids, who will once and for all remove the bullies and the perpetrators of evil from his playground. Those who cannot or will not appreciate this have likely enjoyed a very sheltered life and are therefore naive about the emotional impact of oppression, cruelty, and injustice. To accept that God is a lover but not a judge is a luxury that only the privileged and protected can enjoy.”
Let me come at the necessity of divine judgment from a different angle. Isn’t all violence the enacting of “justice" from one person or culture’s perspective?
Let’s take 9/11. To us, September 11, 2001, was an atrocity; a grave injustice. But what was 9/11 to the Middle Eastern Muslims who carried it out? It was “justice" - justice as defined by them.
What about Charlottesville this past year in Virginia? To many that was ravenous oppression. But what was it to the racial supremacists? It was “justice” - justice as defined by them.
The same could be said of the horror that took place in Las Vegas this past week.
When justice has as many definitions as there are perspectives or worldviews or cultures in the world, there is going to be a cycle of violence to contend with. What is unjust to one is just to another. The only way the cycle ends is if there is only one definition of justice that all are made to abide by. This is what Volf and Sauls are saying. We need God to be a God of divine judgment. We need his justice to be definitive and final. That’s the only way the cycle of violence ends.
For me, this doesn’t neatly button-up God’s justice into a nice, tidy, easy to understand package. God’s justice still presents us with problems we can’t solve. But you know what it does do for me? It shows me that without divine judgment, I have a much bigger problem to deal with. The necessity of divine judgment is the only way the cycle of violence ends.