Renew in me a new spirit." (Psalm 51:10)
I still write occasionally on Quora.com, answering fielding basic questions others have about religion and faith. Here's my latest post:
Because it is? That isn’t to say God is punishing me when there’s an unexpected flood in the bathroom, although He might be out to correct my bad habits of poor maintenance. Who knows the mind of God? But why couldn’t God punish with divine tears of sorrow for mankind’s many offenses against Him and one another? He legitimately uses the fires of hell to punish evildoers who don’t change their ways. What’s wrong with Him using excess water to wipe parts of the earth clean? More to the point, God does hold everyone accountable for the good or evil they do. Matthew 5:26 makes obvious hints about how the last penny will be paid before justice is done when it comes to making restitution for sin, because sin is that bad. It is in one sense a deprivation of the good, and in another rejection of the good altogether. When I fail to help my neighbor in need, I’ve deprived him of assistance in meeting his needs. But when I steal or lie or malign his character, I’m maiming him, and that ain’t good!
I rarely use the modern translations of Scriptures because they often sound phony or less authoritative. But let’s make an exception in this case and reconsider what the psalmist sings about when pining for the good of true and lasting justice (psalm 58m Good News Translation):
A Prayer for God to Punish the Wicked
1 Do you rulers ever give a just decision? Do you judge everyone fairly? 2 No! You think only of the evil you can do, and commit crimes of violence in the land. 3 Evildoers go wrong all their lives; they tell lies from the day they are born. 4 They are full of poison like snakes; they stop up their ears like a deaf cobra, 5 which does not hear the voice of the snake charmer, or the chant of the clever magician. 6 Break the teeth of these fierce lions, O God. 7 May they disappear like water draining away; may they be crushed like weeds on a path. 8 May they be like snails that dissolve into slime; may they be like a baby born dead that never sees the light. 9 Before they know it, they are cut down like weeds; in his fierce anger God will blow them away while they are still living. 10 The righteous will be glad when they see sinners punished; they will wade through the blood of the wicked. 11 People will say, “The righteous are indeed rewarded; there is indeed a God who judges the world.”
After reading this, wouldn’t you agree that God is righteous when imposing judgment on evil, even if that punishment cleanses the earth with purifying water? I, for one, am glad God is merciful as He is when chastising those who reject good and embrace evil (because I am not yet wholly good). For my money, there are better concerns than worrying about the many methods the Lord has for holding His people accountable…like wondering how to change our hearts to be more in accord with His.