Meritt of Infidels.org claims a contradiction exists, asking simply "Righteous live?"
|“|| Psalms 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.
Isaiah 57:1 The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.
The obvious question to be asked is when the flourishing is to occur, this life or the next? If the next, there is no contradiction, the righteous perish in this life, but flourish in the next, and only the good die young. As Paul puts it, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (1 Corinthians 15:19) Jesus warned "in the world ye shall have tribulation." (John 16:33) Paul repeats this is in 2 Timothy 3:12 stating "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Thus there is no contradiction. As Solomon points out, "there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness." (Ecclesiastes 7:15) However, as Solomon concludes in the final chapter of Ecclesiastes,
|“|| Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Meritt very dishonestly quotes only the first part of the passage in Isaiah 57:1, "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart," omitting the telling remainder of the passage. He also omits the remainder of the Psalms 92:12-13 passage; I have provided both in full here. When looked at as a whole, it becomes apparent that God is actually removing some good people from the Earth as a merciful act to them. The Bible here even specifically states what fallacy many people (including Jim Meritt) commit, that "none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness." In Psalms 92:12, when looking at the verse's context, it is clear it is referring to the next life where the righteous will prosper, since "cedar of lebanon" is a clear reference to the angels of Heaven (Isaiah 14:8-13) and "house of the Lord" a clear reference to Heaven.
Unfortunately many people look only at this life, and don't consider that God by taking good people from this life is actually taking them away from horrible evils where they would suffer. This world is where suffering and evil triumph and reign, not the next. Paul recognized that those who die in Christ go to peace and it is better to die than live as such, but recognized God wanted him to continue for the sake of others. Job also recognized this, and pleaded with God to let Him leave the suffering of this world for the peace of sheol with the righteous. Solomon considered this world so hopelessly evil he thought it better to not be born at all.
|“|| Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
Job 3:11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
Ecclesiastes 4:1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
As my old pastor George Perry used to point out, why doesn't God just take us up to Heaven as soon as He saves us rather than let the new creation He's just made get messed up by the world? It's because He wants to use us to help save others and do God's work, as Paul points out, we are "bought with a price" and that not to be the "servants of men" but the servants of God. (1 Corinthians 7:23, 6:20) Once leaving this life, whether in the good or bad area of sheol, we will have no more impact on this world for good or bad; no more opportunity to serve God and advance His kingdom for eternal reward and the praise of our Creator.
|“|| Ecclesiastes 9:4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Those who have not died see death as the greatest evil, an unknown. Biblically however, it is a place of peace for the unborn and righteous, and a better destination than this life; a place to be desired. Ultimately, Jesus came to free us from the fear of death which had enslaved us (Hebrews 2:14-15) that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
|“|| God is just and impartial
ABC:Psalms 92:15 To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
ABC:Genesis 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
ABC:Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
ABC:Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
ABC:Ezekiel 18:25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
God is unjust and partial
ABC:Genesis 9:25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
ABC:Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
ABC:Romans 9:11-13 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
ABC:Matthew 13:12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
The critic makes some serious mistakes in trying to attribute injustice and partiality to God. First of all, Genesis 9:25 contains something Noah said, not God, and that was because his son had immorally looked at his father's nudity. As a result Noah cursed his younger son. However, even IF that had been something God had said, not Noah, it would not have necessarily shown injustice or partiality since it was a condemnation of an immoral action. Using that as the primary example of God's injustice displays seriously flawed reasoning, as well as carelessness, on the part of the critic.
The critic seems to be arguing that Exodus 20:5 displays partiality because children experience the consequences of their ancestor's decisions to the third and fourth generations. This may well be a reference to disease. God punishes individuals who hate Him with diseases and physical maladies that carry over into their later generations. However, despite this God forgives those who repent, healing their lives and bodies. The critic noticeably does not mention the next verse, Exodus 20:6, which specifically states that God shows mercy to those who love Him and righteously keep His commandments.
In the Mosaic Law, God elsewhere specifically states that children are not to be put to death for the actions of their parents, or parents for what their children have done, but punishment should be based upon their individual actions. Therefore, while God may execute forms of punishment on later generations through disease, execution was to occur only when an individual had done that which was clearly evil.
|“|| ABC:Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
ABC:2 Kings 14:6 But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Ultimately final judgment at the end of the time will be based solely on a person's actions irrespective of what their ancestors have done.
|“|| ABC:2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
ABC:Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Concerning the critic's third allegation of injustice/partiality by God and Romans 9:11-13, God did determine before Jacob and Esau were born which should rule over the other. However, this is because God is able to know our personalities and what we are like inside before we're even born. Evil people begin thinking and doing evil from the womb, just as the good are known from this time as well.
|“|| ABC:Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
ABC:Psalms 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
However, God still pleads with those who are evil to change and do what is right, and makes clear that He takes no pleasure in the deaths of those who are wicked.
|“|| ABC:Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
12 Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.
13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity;
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
17 Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal.
So, in conclusion, just because God knew enough of what Jacob and Esau were like while they were still in the womb to foreordain aspects of their lives, does not mean that God is unjust or impartial. It simply evinces the depths of God's knowledge and understanding to realize what kind of people we are from the moment we are created, even before we leave our mother's wombs. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that Esau, like his brother Jacob, was blessed permanently with land that God has permanently left to his descendants. (ABC:Deuteronomy 2:4-5)
Finally, the critic accuses God of injustice and partiality because in Matthew 13:12 Jesus says that those who have will be given more, and those with little will have that little taken away from them. However, the fuller context shows that this was spoken concerning knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The ones Jesus was speaking to had closed their own eyes (Matthew 13:14) because they did not want to realize the truth.
|“|| ABC:Matthew 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Truth is something given to those who seek it earnestly, who wish to know righteousness. Therefore it is not unjust of God to take away the understanding of those who close their eyes and ears because they don't want to know or accept the truth. God is fair and gives wisdom generously to those who seek in a right spirit by trusting God (James 1:5-6).
|“|| ABC:Proverbs 2:3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
ABC:Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
- Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
- Thiefe, Chris. Biblical Contradictions. EvilBible.com.