What is the “theology of immediate retribution” as it is found in Chronicles?
The theology of immediate retribution in the book of Chronicles is a theology that claims 1 God’s rule of His people is expressed by His constant, direct and immediate intervention in their history. It can also be understood that 2 reward and punishment are not deferred, but rather follow immediately on the heels of a precipitating event. Simply put, it is the belief that “you get what you deserve”. Hinduism and worldly thinking call this, “karma”. In the case of the Old Testament particularly, those who disobey God’s laws and fail to keep His covenant experience negative consequences, while those who are obedient and keep God’s covenant experience His blessings and safety.
This theology is controversial because it follows the logic of “cause and effect”, and this way of thinking does not always apply to every aspect of life. Retribution theology is very black and white in rationality, and life is simply not that explicit. From time to time, good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. If it did always apply, then Jesus would not have suffered and we would all be crushed by the wrath of God because of our sin (that’s true justice). However, scriptural books like Ecclesiastes, Job, and Psalms reassure us that although results do not always match the deed, God remains sovereign and justice belongs to Him in the end. Life is not the best deliverer of justice (many want it to be), but God is, and I thank Him that “mercy triumphs over justice” (James 2:13).