The Justice We Should (Not) Expect in the World
I may get more questions about the Book of Job than about any other book:
"Is Job right, or are his friends right?” “Isn’t Job in sin for questioning God?"
Here are some thoughts to anchor you as you read Job, so that you can understand its very important message for Christians today, especially as it answers the question of whether you should expect justice in the world prior to Jesus’ return and the New Heavens and New Earth that He will make (Revelation 21-22):
Life in this era is usually not just. That’s a truth of Scripture and a large message in the book of Job. If we didn’t get that message from Job and Joseph (he was righteous, yet sold, enslaved, and imprisoned) and other places in the Old Testament, we get it from the cross, where the most righteous and un-sinning man, Jesus, is given what the unrighteous and sinful (we) deserve. So, to the question, “Is life just?” We say, "Look at the cross and you have your answer.” A huge “no.”
Solomon, at the end of his life, concludes these two things:
1) Ecclesiastes 8:14. "There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.”
In other words, in life on earth, "righteous men . . . get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men . . . get what the righteous deserve,” but the common result of righteous or unrighteousness is meaningless because the result/the appearance does not mean what it would appear to mean, namely, that the righteous man is wicked.
2) Then Solomon asks, at the conclusion of his book, this: “Since life is not just (and the righteous man gets what the wicked man deserves), should we just be wicked (and get what the righteous man deserves, a la 8:14)?” He answers, in the last two verses of Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 12:13. "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this [fearing God & keeping His commandments] is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."
Justice will come about, but not until final judgment.
It’s reasonable for the reader of Job to say, “On the surface, it seems unjust towards Job.” It is. Job is right. His circumstances are unjust (for him, right at the moment he is speaking). He is a righteous man who has gotten what the wicked deserve. But, we are to understand from Job and Solomon that life in this era is not just. Thus, when we do get justice and when things are done rightly, we consider it a bonus and an aberration, not the other way around.
God is sovereign, and final justice (full justice for every deed) will be accomplished—unjust suffering will be paid back/rewarded—but not until final judgment, upon Jesus’ return.