Before we move on, there are three passages of Scripture which I want to cite which clearly demonstrate God’s dealing with his creatures out of pure sovereignty rather than justice. There are obviously many more, but these three will suffice for our purposes. The first of these passages is:
Matthew 11:23 – “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”
This passage clearly teaches that God is sovereign over reprobation in an active sense, not merely in a passive sense. Jesus specifically says that the miracles which were done in Capernaum would have been sufficient to bring repentance to Sodom, at least enough repentance to keep them from being destroyed when they were. And yet these miracles were purposely withheld. Draw your own conclusions from that.
The 2nd passage is the Parable of the Vineyard Workers, found in Matthew 20:1-16. Rather than reproduce the entire passage here, let me simply refer to the section of it which is relevant to our discussion. You’ll remember that in the parable workers were hired at several different times throughout the day and that they were all hired for the same amount. The climax of the parable is the section which is relevant to our discussion. When quitting time came and the men were going to be paid for their labor, the men who had worked a mere hour were paid the same amount as those who had worked all day. Naturally the men who had busted their humps all day in the sun complained. I have no doubt but that anyone who reads this parable sees the inherent “unfairness” of this arrangement. But notice what the vineyard owner says. Rather, notice what he does not say. The owner the vineyard does not say, “You are absolutely right. It is completely unfair of me to pay you the same amount for 10 times more work than these other bums did who came along later in the day. I’m glad you pointed out to me the inherent unfairness of this arrangement.” The owner of the property in fact says, “Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as much as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” Notice that the principle upon which the landlord works (the principle which verse 1 tells us is a principal of the kingdom of heaven), is sovereignty over his property, not any notion of justice as construed by his workers.
The 3rd passage is the lesson of the fig tree in Mark 11:12-14, 20. In what from a fallen human perspective must be viewed as an incredible act of unfairness, Jesus curses a fig tree for having no fruit, which would not be unusual in itself, except that figs were not in season. This demonstrates sovereignty in a way that beggars description. If it had been fig season we would not be surprised if someone were angry with a tree for having no fruit, although we might be surprised if they cursed the tree because of that. But here we find Jesus, the creator of the universe who must therefore be aware of when one can and cannot find fruit on a tree. And yet operating on a principle of pure sovereignty, Jesus pronounces a damning curse on a tree which has no fruit out of season.