With You in Judgement…
On Monday, part of the One-Year reading was about Jehoshaphat assigning judges to oversee cities, to solve disputes between all the peoples of Judah. King Jehoshaphat does not just give these leaders their seats and leave the general rulings and settlements of disputes to their own ideas of justice. Human leaders are easily corruptible, and their good intentions can spiral into total chaos. This is the stern warning and command the king gives to these judges that he assigned:
Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.” (2 Chronicles 19:5–7)
Jehoshaphat tells them to “take heed” — pay close attention to everything they do. They are not judging and solving problems just among men or for men, by mortal effort or power or influence. They judge as representatives of the Creator of Justice, who is with them as they govern. I see that as a wonderful comfort and a serious warning. God will either be at your side in judgement, or right in your face wondering just what it is you think you are up to.
Jehoshaphat goes on, and tells them to fear the Lord. They are to walk in reverence and under the knowledge that God is with them in all their decisions, and He will hold them accountable for everything they say and do. After this encouragement and warning, Jehoshaphat tells them to man up and do their job — and do it without corruption, sin, partiality, or bribes.
No partiality. Treat every person the same under God, respond with appropriate severity for criminal behavior or innocent action. No corruption, no pride, no bribes.
In this season, where too many of America’s representatives forget their place and act out of turn with increasing hostility, I know God takes it seriously. He expects (to be honest, He demands) that judges (leaders, governors, those who handle disputes and matters of policy among their people) act like He does. God is the Judge, and He is incapable of any iniquity, partiality, or bribe-taking.
I don’t mean to be dramatic or to pick on anyone who disagrees. I don’t want to pick a fight, but I know that God will deal severely with judges who smear His name with bad decisions. There’s a lot on the news of certain “judges” (who were assigned by our God-given right to self-governance) absolutely acting with shocking iniquity, and absurd partiality. They may not be taking bribes in the sense of criminal activity, but they are certainly forfeiting right and sensible decisions in favor of popularity and hashtags.
Fortunately for us, they aren’t alone in their judgement. The Judge is at their side at every moment. That’s good for representatives and leaders who do their jobs. It’s not good news for representatives who do not.
All I can do (and should do!) is criticize them with my right to speech. I won’t call for harm or anything crazy. But that’s all I need to do, because they aren’t alone in their judgement. It’s never been just their call.
We trust in the Judge, not in princes or governors or representatives. No human “judge”, even if they are good leaders making wise decisions, deserve or earn our full trust. Human leadership often falls prey to base human instincts.
God never does.
The choice for our leaders is whether or not they will act like God expects. But either way, He is with them whether they know it or not, and whether they like it or not. It doesn’t matter what letter is in front of their name, no judge is alone in their judgement. That word wasn’t a human idea in the first place.
I know in my heart that God won’t let evil run rampant. He is a God of mercy and impossible patience, but He is also the God who decides when enough is enough. I admit that I feel that this week in particular has struck a nerve, that certain forces have stepped too far, that reckless evil will find itself wishing it hadn’t woke up in 2020.
But that’s His call, and I trust His judgement.