Who gives God the right to first create the human race and then to wipe it out by a flood?
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.’” (Gen. 6:5-7)
Who gives God the right to determine that an entire group of people should be erased from the earth, every man, woman, and child.
“Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (1 Sam. 15:1-4)
Who gives God the right to destroy one nation and then determine that another nation shall take its place?
“He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away. He deprives of intelligence the chiefs of the earth’s people and makes them wander in a pathless waste. They grope in darkness with no light, and He makes them stagger like a drunken man.” (Job 12:23-25)
Who gives God the right to create one person for one particular purpose and another for another purpose?
“For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth’.” (Rom. 9:17)
The writer is saying God could have removed Pharaoh from the earth at any time. But He chose to use him to show His power and to proclaim His name throughout the earth. God chose to use Pharaoh to glorify Himself. Who gives God the right to do this?
No created thing gives God the right to do anything. As the sovereign planner and Creator of all that is, He evidently assumes this right.
“So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” (Rom. 9:18)
How could God both harden and at the same time condemn the hardened?
“You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will.’ ” (Rom. 9:19)
If God exercises His will upon man then how could He still find fault? And who could resist such a will? Paul does not attempt to rationalize an answer. Paul just gives God the right to be God. That is all that he could do!
“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Rom. 9:18-24)
The word for “right” used here is from the Greek word “excusion.” It speaks of authority! The question is this: Does God, functioning as the Potter have the right to make Himself known to His creation in the way that He chooses? Does God have the privilege to be God?
God is Righteous
When we begin to think about it, where did the idea of “right” originate? Who invented the meaning of “right”? It began with God. God is the author of righteousness. God alone established the guidelines of what is right and what is wrong. He is the source of all righteousness and justice.
“The Lord is righteous; the Lord loves righteousness.” (Psa. 11:7)
In fact, everything that God has chosen to do on behalf of His creation is based upon His standards of righteousness.
“The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” (Psa. 19:9)
What a creature may think about how his Creator chooses to make known the riches of His glory is not the standard by which the Creator must work. God does not have to surrender Himself in any way to the creature’s expectation. God’s righteousness and His justice stand as the foundation upon which He has chosen to work.
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne: Lovingkindness and truth go before You.” (Psa. 89:14)
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” (Psa. 97:2)
God can never do anything that is not absolutely right and just according to His standard. He has chosen to be fair with His creation, according to His principles of fairness. If our human minds cannot make sense of the ways that God has chosen to do this, there is a good reason. God says through His prophet, Isaiah:
“My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are My ways your ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isa. 55:8-9)
How high are the heavens above the earth? I do not know! No creature has the mentality to go there. We cannot think God’s thoughts or understand His ways. We have no ability to make reasonable what God has chosen to do with His creation. It is above us; it is beyond us! The only thoughts that we can accurately think about God come to us from Him through His word. And God has to open the eyes of our heart for us to understand His word. His word says that the ways that He has chosen to bring about His justice are beyond us.
“Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out. For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has been His counselor?” (Rom. 11:33-34)
The word “unsearchable” means that a human being cannot plumb the depths of the ways that God has chosen to carry out His judgments. God’s wisdom and knowledge are to deep for us. We cannot search them out! Man does not have the capacity to bring God down to the court of human reason and put Him on trial. A human being cannot validate the “fairness” of God’s will. Why? Because whatever He wills is fair. It is fair and just simply because God wills it to be so. One dare not think, “It is fair and just, therefore He wills it.” Righteousness, like all of God’s attributes, comes from the top down and not from the bottom up.
God’s Justice is Absolute
The Creator owes nothing to the creature, not even the mercy that He has graciously chosen to give. John MacArthur made this statement: “Divine justice is an essential attribute of God whereby He is infinitely and perfectly just in Himself, of Himself, for Himself, from Himself, by Himself and none other.”
Who gives a Potter the right to make the clay and then to fashion the clay in whatever way He desires? No one gives Him the right!
“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say,’ He has no hands?” (Isa. 45:9)
The Creator reserves the authority to do and not to have to explain what He has done. That is the privilege of a Creator! So how could God be called unfair or unjust when He sets the standard of what is fair and just? How could it be unjust for Him to use His clay in a manner that pleases Him? In fact, God would be well within His right to create and then to totally destroy all that He had created?
Man’s eternal salvation is not a matter of justice anyway. If we received God’s justice, we would all perish forever! Eternal life is a matter of grace and only grace!
“Who gave Him authority over the earth? And who has laid on Him the whole world? If He should determine to do so, If He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” (Job. 34:13-15)
“To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Psa. 92:15)
“Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.” (Isa. 46:9)
“You thought I was just like you!” (Psa. 50:21)
Making Known the Riches of His Glory
“That He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy.” Paul lets us know that the Creator has the right to reveal the riches of His glory in the way that He chooses. This is true simply because He is the Creator. Whatever the Creator chooses to do with His creation will be right and just because He has chosen to do it. He is a just God! He cannot do anything that is not right.
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” (Isa. 64:8)
“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them.” (Psa. 139:16-17)
Donald Gray Barnhouse tells the story of a young boy who loved his dog. The dog meant everything to him. One day as he was opening the garage door he saw his father shoot his dog! The boy screamed out in horror, “Dad, you killed my dog! Dad, I hate you! You killed my dog!” The father tried to explain to the boy but to no avail! Only when the boy was older did he realize that a rabid dog had bitten his dog. His dog had to be destroyed to save lives. The father did what was right! But that right was not understood until much later.
The real issue before those who have believed in Christ is this: Is God to be measured from the standpoint of man’s fallen human standards or is He measured by His own divine standards? If we measure God by human standards, He would appear to be very unfair. But God will always be right in everything that He has chosen to do.
“Let God be true and every man a liar.” (Rom. 3:4)
Some day God may explain to believers His plan of grace. But even if He does not, He will remain a righteous God!
New American Standard Bible
Dr. Donald G. Barnhouse
A.T. Robertson Word Pictures
Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament
Chafer’s Systematic Theology