A Voice in the
"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace upon the throne of David there will be no end; and upon His kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on, even forever. The zeal of Jehovah of Hosts will accomplish this." (Is9:6-7)
The "Pledge of Allegiance" to the American flag closes with the words, "...with liberty and justice for all." One of the principles under which this nation was founded was a judicial system that would be both 'just' and 'fair'. While the purpose of law enforcement and the courts is to bring criminals to just retribution for their crimes; the system is designed with human compassion, especially for the sake of the innocent who are taken because they were wrongly accused. Thus, the slogan, "Presumed innocent until proven guilty." The system is -so- 'compassionate' that it often leans over backwards and gives criminals (those who truly are guilty, even of utterly heinous crimes) all sorts of freedoms, rights and indulgences. While many nations complain against its use of the death penalty for some offences, I think it is pretty much considered that the US 'justice' system is one of the most equitable (fair) systems in the world. Many are the countries where an arrested person can languish in prison, without a court hearing. The US prison system treats its inmates to room and board, and a better health care system than many 'free' citizens are able to afford. Many of the world's poverty stricken people might jump at the chance to be housed in a US prison, and be so-well-fed and cared for. Compared to what they eke out daily, a US prison would be like a 'palace'! Indeed, there is an account told, several years ago, of a person who had been continually in and out of prison. As he stood before the judge for the umpteenth time, the judge asks him, "Why did you do it (the crime)?" The response, "Well, your Honor... I have these teeth that need fillings, I need new glasses, and I'm having some other health problems, and I can't afford a doctor. I know I'll get a warm place to sleep, and some food to eat." This is supposed to have been a true story, although, I couldn't prove it to anyone. (Likely one of those accounts Paul Harvey told..?)
Sorry, to you who are not "American". Not talking -about- "America" here. But all this to introduce this topic...
Recently I had occasion to experience American "justice", first hand. 'Not going to give any details. Briefly, a few months ago a county sheriff pulled me over for what he cited me for as a traffic "infraction". A few days ago was my court appointment. Two observations about that experience; and then we'll get to the Scriptural point of this whole commentary.
As several of us were sitting around, waiting for court to begin, the prosecutor was there, calling out names. The person would go up and sit next to her, and in each case she would summarize the charge to the person, then "offer a deal". Most were there for "speeding" or similar infractions. (Mine was something else)
"Since your record has been clean, I'll reduce the charge to a non-moving 'seatbelt' violation, and the fine will be ??? and the matter will not appear on your driving record; and thus, it will keep your insurance rates from going up."
Yes, since my record was clean, she offered me the same "deal". But... the citation was -NOT- for "seat belt violation"! To make this 'deal' would be a -LIE-! To 'change' the infraction to "seat belt" would not be the Truth! The prosecutor, a young feministically-inclined woman, was sitting there, making these 'deals' right-and-left, almost with the gusto and militance of a market-place trader or flea-market merchant, hocking wares. I had never before seen the 'trading' of justice in such a cavalier 'merchantile' fashion!
"But let your word be Yes, yes; No, no. For whatever is more than these is from evil." (Mt5:37)
After a few minutes of this, and all these "deals" had been made, those who remained had their time before the judge. As I was now before the judge (guess what I did regarding that "deal"!), we were discussing the case. A county sheriff had stopped me for doing something which "city ordinance" allowed. It was a matter I had even specifically queried one of my city-police customers about a couple years ago. And the judge said that, indeed, a city police would not have cited me for the matter.
So... WHAT LAW does one drive by? County/state? Or city ordinance? You see, Washington state has a unique arrangment between state, county and cities... that officers from whatever jurisdiction they are from, can enforce laws in any other jurisdiction. It is not a case like Rosco -P- Coltrain sitting at the Hazzard County county line, waiting for the Duke boys to jump the General Lee over some obstruction, crossing the county lines so he can go chasing after them. This -county- officer stopped me within city limits for something which city ordinance allows. Apparently he must not be aware of city ordinances. So... where is the "justice"?
To many lawyers, it seems that courtroom proceedings are more about "winning", than "justice". Years ago I sat on jury duty. After the case was decided, the prosecutor came around to the jury (the defendant had 'won'), asking questions of the nature of, "if you had known about ??? would it have made a difference?" or "What made you decide as you did?" and also, "If I had done ??? would it have helped the prosecution case?" While I can understand attorneys learning from their cases, the attitude of this man was more the 'spirit' of, "how could I have -won- the case?" There was nothing to his demeanor that suggested a desire for what might have been "right" or "wrong". About "justice". A few years later, he was elected to one of the local positions as a district court judge.
Of course, in recent years there have been the -famous- cases of travesty of justice. One is left 'wondering' about O.J.Simpson. I tend to trust a jury's verdict, more than I do the courtroom theatrics of the various attorneys who were getting free publicity on national TV. And then, the most recent spectacle of this country's former prevaricator-in-chief, who has since been debarred from his own home state, and barred from ever practicing law before the Supreme Court; who, during his last day in office, in his parting act as president, granted presidential pardons to many criminals. He opened his presidency with the military "gay" issue, and closed with pardoning guilty people! Throughout his tenure in office, continually flaunting immorality, and perverting justice and truth. Again... where is the "justice"?
Just this morning (the day this is being written) on BreakPoint, Chuck Colson spoke of this nation's penchant for "frivolous lawsuits", and the mentality of "entitlements". Oh yes, I had $100 million worth of "pain and suffering", I'm gonna "sue"! You ran over my dog, and that caused my children mental anguish... now, you owe -me- $XXX amount of money, because -they- are now scarred emotionally for life..!!
When Israel began to become organized as a nation, God gave them laws. He not only gave the Ten Commandments, He also gave many assorted civil laws. When the 9th Commandment says, "You shall not testify a witness of falsehood against your neighbor" (Ex20:16), that is a 'legal' commandment. When you stand and raise your right hand and "promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.." that is a promise to "not bear false witness". That is an oath to not break the 9th Commandment.
Hmmm! No wonder so many wish to strike the Ten Commandments from public view in our courts! Because they are busy making deals and rulings, breaking them!
God commanded Israel, "You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates...and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which Jehovah your God is giving you." (Deu16:18-20)
I'm sure we could spend our time observing all the perversions of justice around the world. For the little bit I've mentioned here, each of you could no doubt cite your own examples, from whatever country you call "home".
In last month's commentary we observed some of the cataclysmic judgments God will unlease upon this planet when Christ returns. We spoke of hosing down and squeegying out the filth. That after Christ has cleared away His 'work station', He could then be set to establish His rule. How will the rule of Messiah be characterized?
He is going to "order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on, even forever". When Jesus rules, He will be the 'just' Judge. God had proclaimed, "One law shall...be for you and for the stranger.." (Num15:16) Not this business of a sheriff enforcing one law, and a municipal officer another. Because Jesus will be the "one Lawgiver". (Jac4:12)
When the prosecutor was trying to coerce me into the "deal", she used an argument similar to, 'Well, you've certainly been guilty of other infractions at various times'. Well, I can tell you, for a fact, that she was correct in that statement. But that's not what the citation was for: all those other 'alleged' and 'undocumented' cases where I 'might' have messed up.
When Messiah rules, "..He shall savor the fear of Jehovah. And He shall not judge according to the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears. But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and shall decide with equity for the meek of the earth. And He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked." (Is11:3-4)
God commanded, "Learn to do good, seek justice, set straight the oppressor, judge for the orphan, plead for the widow." (Is11:17) "You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor." (Lev19:15) And yes, He even established a "trial-by-jury" with, "..then the -congregation- shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood according to these judgments." (Num35:24)
But Israel had become like the world today, "Your rulers are rebellious and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe, and pursues rewards. They do not judge for the orphan, nor does the cause of the widow come before them." (Is11:23)
So, what is God's characteristic, by which He judges? "Jehovah, Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty..." (Ex34:6-7)
God is holy. He is also full of mercy. If we were to be judged for our faults, we would be totally wiped from creation. But "Through Jehovah's kindness we are not consumed, because His compassions never fail." (Lam3:22)
But when He "by no means clears the guilty", He will not judge a person for running a red light, if they were actually guilty of speeding. A person who "murders" will not be able to plea bargain for "malicious mischief". A millionaire will not be able to 'buy' their way to freedom because they can hire high-profile attorneys, and then remain in their career as a senator. They will not rape, and plea-bargain their way to a lesser charge with their family fortunes and name to rescue them.
"But Jehovah shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. Jehovah also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Jehovah, have not forsaken those who seek You." (Ps9:7-10)
You see...at God's judgment "every mouth [is] stopped, and all the world [is] guilty before God". (Rom3:19) But notice who can claim "refuge". Those who "know [God's] name" who "put their trust in [Him]".
When a person suffers God's vengeance, it will be because of their own heart of rebellion against God. Whatever they receive in judgment they will be FULLY DESERVING of everything they receive. But if a person's heart is pure before Him, having come before Him in repentance, pleading for His mercy (not just claiming to have "made a committment" to Him), God knows the heart down to the division of "soul and spirit" (Heb4:12-13), He "judges righteously, who tries the mind and the heart" (Jer11:20), He "tries the righteous and sees the soul and the heart" (Jer20:12), He does not judge by appearance, but with "righteous judgment". (Jn7:24)
Yes, this world's judicial systems will be hosed down and squeegied out the door. But for those who "..worship Jehovah in the beauty of holiness! [and] Tremble before Him, all the earth....
"..Say among the nations, Jehovah reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before Jehovah. For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth." (Ps96:9-13)