But if ·what we do wrong [our unrighteousness] ·shows more clearly [highlights] ·that God is right [God’s righteousness], ·how can we say [L what shall we say?] that God is ·wrong [unrighteous; unjust] to ·punish [L inflict wrath on] us? (I am talking ·as people might talk [or in limited human terms].)
But if our wickedness advertises the goodness of God, do we feel that God is being unfair to punish us in return? (I’m using a human tit-for-tat argument.) Not a bit of it! What sort of a person would God be then to judge the world? It is like saying that if my lying throws into sharp relief the truth of God and, so to speak, enhances his reputation, then why should he repay me by judging me a sinner? Similarly, why not do evil that good may be, by contrast all the more conspicuous and valuable? (As a matter of fact, I am reported as urging this very thing, by some slanderously and others quite seriously! But, of course, such an argument is quite properly condemned.)
“But,” some say, “our breaking faith with God is good, our sins serve a good purpose, for people will notice how good God is when they see how bad we are. Is it fair, then, for him to punish us when our sins are helping him?” (That is the way some people talk.)
First, there’s the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for God’s revelation, these Holy Scriptures. So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Scripture says the same: Your words stand fast and true; Rejection doesn’t faze you. But if our wrongdoing only underlines and confirms God’s rightdoing, shouldn’t we be commended for helping out? Since our bad words don’t even make a dent in his good words, isn’t it wrong of God to back us to the wall and hold us to our word? These questions come up. The answer to such questions is no, a most emphatic No! How else would things ever get straightened out if God didn’t do the straightening?
Doesn’t the fact that we are wrong prove more clearly that God is right? Then what can we say? Can we say that God is not fair when he brings his anger down on us? As you can tell, I am just using human ways of thinking.
But if our unrighteousness brings out and highlights the Tzedek Olamim, the Tzidkat Hashem (the righteousness of G-d), what shall we say? Rhetorically speaking, is G-d unjust in inflicting Charon Af Hashem (1:18)? (I speak from a human standpoint.)
If our perpetual injustice and corruption merely accentuate the purity of God’s justice, what can we say? Is God unjust for unleashing His fury against us? (I am speaking from our limited human perspective.)
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