15. Since God is righteous, why is it that evil people prosper in comfort while good people are bullied and oppressed and suffer hardships?
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from there. Then he said, I pray you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house: For I have five brothers; that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luk 16:19-28).
The Answer from God’s Word:
Those who obtain good fortune in this life will surely suffer for all eternity, while those who suffer in this life will surely be blessed for all eternity—this I have predestined and no one may change it. No one may change My heart….
from “The Ninety-seventh Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
How should one understand, how should one comprehend the righteous disposition of God? How does one come to know this righteousness? The righteous man receives God’s blessing, and the evil person meets the curses of God. Such is the righteousness of God, right? Is this how it is? I will ask you, if a righteous person has not received God’s blessing, and cannot obtain God’s blessing, and if God does not bless him, and an evil person on the contrary is wealthy in family property, has numerous children, and everything goes smoothly and successfully, is this the righteousness of God? Yes! How do we explain it? There is a saying that God rewards the good and punishes the evil, and that each person receives retribution according to his or her actions. Is this saying correct? Now there is a thing like this: A person who worships God is killed or is cursed by God, or God has never blessed him or paid attention to him, and further worship is ignored. Then there is an evil person whom God has neither blessed nor punished, but he is wealthy in family property, has numerous children, and everything goes smoothly and successfully. Some people say: “God is not righteous. We worship Him, yet we have not received His blessing. The evil person, however, who has not worshiped Him but resisted Him, is better than us in everything, higher than we are. God is not righteous!” What does this thing allow you to see? Of the two examples that I just gave, which one illustrates God’s righteousness? Some people say: “They are both God’s righteousness!” Why say this? The understanding that people have of the disposition of God is erroneous. All of man’s knowing is within his thinking and point of view, from a standpoint of trade, or from viewpoint of good and evil or right and wrong, or from the point of view of logic. If you go about knowing God while holding these viewpoints, there will be no way to be compatible with God, and you will still resist God, and make complaint. There was a beggar that appeared to be a fool. He knew only to worship God, but God just ignored him, God did not bless him. Perhaps you are thinking, “Even if God will not bless him in the world to come, certainly God will bless him in eternity and reward him ten thousand times over. Would that not make God righteous? That rich man, he enjoys hundredfold blessings, and in the ever-after is extinguished. Is this not also the righteousness of God?” … According to human conceptions, the good is rewarded and the evil is punished, evil persons must not receive reward, and those who do no evil should all receive reward, and be blessed, because God is righteous. It seems that people should receive what they deserve, and that God is said to be righteous only when people receive what is due to them. What if someone does not get his or her share? Should you then say that God is not righteous? … Knowledge of God is not saying this or that about God based on how humans view things. There is no truth in the way humans view things. You must see what the essence of God is, what the disposition of God is. People should not see the essence of God based on the external phenomena of what God has done or has dealt with. The human race itself has been corrupted by Satan. It essentially does not know what its nature is, or what the corrupted human race is before God, and how it should be dealt with. Consider Job, a righteous man blessed by God. This is God’s righteousness. Job undergoes trials, and Satan makes a wager with Jehovah: “Why does Job worship You? It is because You give him such reward. If You take all of that away from him, will he still worship You?” Jehovah God said, “As long as you don’t take his life, you may do whatever you please.” Satan went to Job and later Job encountered trials. Everything he had was stripped away, and his children died. Is the righteous disposition of God contained in Job’s trials? Yes! Where? You can’t explain it, right? Even if you are a righteous person, God still has a right to try you, and allow you to become a witness for God. The disposition of God is righteous. He treats everyone equally, which does not mean that because the righteous person can endure trials that he does not need to undergo them, that the righteous person needs to be protected. It is not like this. He has the right to try you. This is an expression of His righteous disposition. Finally, after Job underwent trials and bore witness for Jehovah, He blessed him even more than before, blessing him doubly and better. Furthermore, Jehovah appeared before him, and spoke to him in the wind, as if Job saw Him face to face. This is a blessing given to him, yes? This is God’s righteousness. What if it is the opposite? Jehovah saw Job accepting these trials, bearing witness for Him in Satan’s presence, and shaming Satan. But Jehovah turned and left, ignoring him. Job did not attain blessing afterward. Is God’s righteousness in this? Regardless of whether Job was blessed after the trials or not, or whether Jehovah appeared before him or not, all of this contains God’s good will. Appearing before him is God’s righteousness, and not appearing before him is also God’s righteousness. As part of the creation, on what basis do you make demands on God? Man is not qualified to make demands on God. To make a demand of God is the most unreasonable thing. God will do what He wants, and God has a right not to do it this way. He has a right to handle these things on His own. His own disposition is righteous. Righteousness is by no means impartial and reasonable, cutting one in two, compensating you according to the quantity of work you do or paying you for how much work you have done. This is not God’s righteousness. You believe that each person does his share, with distribution according to work done, and that each person receives his due according to what he puts out; none other than this is righteousness. … The essence of God is righteousness. Though it is not easy to understand what God does, all that He does is righteous. It is simply that people do not understand, no mistake about that. You see that when God gave Peter to Satan, how Peter responded: “Man is unable to penetrate what You do, but all of what You do contains Your good will. There is righteousness in all of it. How can I not utter praise for Your wise deeds?” … Everything that God does is righteous. Though you are unable to discover it, you should not make judgment as you please. If it appears to you as irrational, or if you have a conception about it, and then say God is not righteous, this is the most unreasonable. Just now I raised a few negative examples for you to differentiate, and you don’t dare to speak. You see that Peter found some things incomprehensible, yet he was sure that God’s wisdom was present here, that God’s good will was in it all.
from “How to Understand the Righteous Disposition of God” in Records of Christ’s Talks