4. God's Choice With Creation
The question may be posed about whether God can be trusted to dispense the correct form of justice. Certainly, over the years, various Governments have been considered wrong in their systems of laws and execution of their perception of justice. People have also felt uncomfortable with the actions of God, as revealed through the Bible. There is, however, a strong principle that affects how we should interpret the actions of God.
In the book of Jeremiah, God is likened to a potter, who has power over his creation.
Jeremiah 18:1: The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 2. "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words." 3. Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. 4. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. 5. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 6. "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! NKJV
The message is that just as the potter has the right to create and destroy his creation, so God has a right to ownership of his creation. This does not conclude the argument, however, as in our world, the ability to do something does not necessarily mean that it is something that should be done. One of the purposes of laws is to prevent people from controlling others in this way.
The book of Romans uses the example of the potter as part of an argument on this subject, This time, the aspect of the creator and the creation is developed.
Romans 9:20.: But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" 21. Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? NKJV
In human terms, potters are given every right to do anything they please to a piece of pottery that they created. Romans 9 then likens humans to such a creation of God, and as such God has every right to do as he pleases. The consequence is that the God has a supreme authority and is, by definition, the standard for right and wrong.
In Malachi, people are said to weary God in seeking for a justice that is different to what they receive.
Malachi 2:17.: You have wearied the LORD with your words; Yet you say, "In what way have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil Is good in the sight of the LORD, And He delights in them," Or, "Where is the God of justice?" NKJV
In this situation, there were people looking for a type of justice that they were not receiving. They saw this as being a sign that God was lacking, or unjust. This was falling into the easy mistake of expecting something that is false.
The prophet Isaiah has also used the example of the potter.
Isaiah 29:15.: Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, And their works are in the dark; They say, "Who sees us?" and, "Who knows us?" 16. Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, "He did not make me"? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? NKJV
People, in their own arrogance, can view God on the same level as themselves and doubt his judgment. The analogy of the potter shows that it is as pointless to consider the creator as unjust as it is for the pottery to consider the potter as unjust.
The Nature of Man
To look instead at the justice of humans as perceived by God, there is also a story of inadequacy. Jeremiah is quite critical of the standards of human instinct,
Jeremaih 17:9.: " The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10. I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. 11. " As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, So is he who gets riches, but not by right; It will leave him in the midst of his days, And at his end he will be a fool." NKJV
As a result of this instinct, people have built up an impression of life and values that are not necessarily correct. It can challenge the supremacy and justice of God, and also the perception of what to expect out of creation. When expectations, such as rewards in life, are too high, God may be condemned for not providing something that is not even deserved.
At the time of creation, God was in complete control of the fate of His creation. The opportunity was there to make many choices about the properties of the creation, including things such a lifespan, and the environment of the Earth.
Overall, the creation itself was a blessing to those created. This was the opportunity of life that would not have been there without the creator. After the sin of Adam, and subsequent condemnation to death, the state of humans appears reasonably clear. In Genesis, life is shown to be a window of existence, surrounded by non-existence.
Gen 3:19.: In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return." NKJV
After dying, it appears that it is just like the person never existed. Ecclesiastes spells this out.
Eccl 9:5.: For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. 6. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share In anything done under the sun. NKJV
King David, in the Psalms showed his view of death,
Psa 6:4.: Return, O LORD, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake! 5. For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks? NKJV
Similarly, death is spoken of in Romans, but this time connecting it to the justice of God.
Romans 5:12.: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned -- NKJV
This shows the extent of one of the first acts of Justice of God in this creation. From the garden of Eden, there was a condemnation that would spread to encompass the death of all people who have lived on the earth.
The hope and destiny of humans can also be viewed from a Godless viewpoint. In this case, scientific and philosophical priciples may be applied to determine what people can expect from life. Rules about the length and meaning of life are then established from observation. In terms of observation, the basic case is quite simple. People are born, live for about 70 years, and then die. After a person dies, the only visible things left are memories and descendants. The following generation may observe the legacy of a person, but this has no observable effect on the person who is then deceased.
Both the creation record and natural observation show that the only thing that can be expected out of life is what can be seen. This is normally about 70 years of living, followed by a cessation of living. The Bible shows that God's blessing for the world was the creation itself. Science is a study of observed things, and so only expects what is seen. On this information, there is no evidence or reason to expect any more out of life, or any greater purpose. People do find it hard to accept death, so they say that “there must be more to it”, but this is not a valid argument. We cannot claim immortality exists simply on the basis that we would like it to be true.
Furthermore, it cannot be considered a “right”, or something a person is deserves. The example of the potter shows that God is the creator and the one who has rights, and the creature has to accept the rules of existence defined by the creator. The word “has” here is also absolute. Even if a person disagrees with this, it is not possible to rebel and overcome the creator. While we can rebel against God's laws of living, we cannot overcome God's laws of existance.
From the Bible, people are deserving of death as a result of the rebellion of Adam. From science people have no more right to immortality than they do to walking at the speed of light. So basically God build a creation that had mortal people.
This analysis appears bleak, but only because our society has an expectation for more. There is nothing inherent in the observable design of the world that says that people should deserve any more hope than that. Similarly when considering that the world was created by a God, there is no basis for expecting any specific “rights” beyond those that are stated or observed.
From a human perspective people often expect a particular lifestyle and length of life. If it is shorter, or deemed less pleasant, they feel cheated. If it longer, or more pleasant it is often considered a thing that was deserved. This is based on observation, and the standard being set by the observation of other peoples' lives. From the perspective of the Bible, however, we are blessed to received life in the first place, and even more blessed to receive a long and healthy one.
This raises a fundamental question. Would it be unjust for God to create a mortal humanity where there was no hope beyond death? Is it wrong to create people where there is a chance of dying at a young age? Even from a human perspective, it is hard to say that a God would be doing wrong thing in that creation.