“However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterwards they will go out with many possessions.” (Genesis 15:14 HCSB)
“They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:5 HCSB)
A thought popped into my head one morning a couple years ago as I prepared oatmeal for breakfast. Is G-d an impartial judge?
The previous year I served on a jury. I, along with eleven other jurors, determined the guilt of a man accused of several crimes. We listened intently as various pieces of evidence, both for and against the defendant, were carefully put before us. We even watched a video of the arrest. Then deliberated, which means we discussed the evidence to determine the defendant’s guilt or innocence. The man’s guilt or innocence lay in our hands.
In this trial, the judge acted neither for nor against the defendant; he acted impartially. The judge followed legal protocols and standards in the conduct of the trial. If the either prosecuting attorney or defendant’s attorney objected to what the other attorney said, the judge decided if the statement was eligible for our consideration. What the judge did not do was to decide the outcome of the trial. He did not determine guilt or innocence. He arbitrated between the defense and the prosecution, gave instructions to the jury, and followed standards set by our laws. This was a typical trial, as held throughout our United States.
Trials are not conducted in this manner in all countries. And during the time of our Messiah’s bodily Earthly visit and during the times of the first apostles, a judge did, indeed, determine the outcome of a case—even determining if a person accused of a crime would live or die. A citizen of Rome, during those times, could appeal the decision, however, and another might overturn it. An example of this is Paul’s appeal to Caesar, and his subsequent journey to Rome. But generally, the role of judge meant determining guilt or innocence, and appropriate punishment, including death, as penalty for guilt. Judges didn’t simply go on the word of the accuser or the accused, but heard witnesses also. Witnesses then had to be trusted for their accurate testimony. It is clear from our scriptures that false accusation, giving false witness, is a terrible wrong and punishable in itself.
So in today’s scripture in Genesis, G-d is the judge of nations. Of this Matthew Henry wrote: “Though God may suffer persecutors and oppressors to trample upon his people a great while, yet he will certainly reckon with them at last; for his day is coming, Psa_37:12, Psa_37:13.” G-d judges the nations based upon their performance as He observes. G-d is the witness and judge and jury. And in Peter, we are told that individuals will give account to G-d for their actions and acts and the evil they say against G-d’s people—which is slander. Peter is saying that G-d’s people are being accused of being evil. As Matthew Henry wrote: “they speak evil of their persons, of their way, their religion, and their God.”
Is G-d impartial? As I looked into these things, the answer is no longer particularly important to me. What is important is what I’ve learned by looking into the Word and thinking about judging and judgment. Some points are clear: 1) G-d judges nations; 2) G-d judges people; 3) G-d uses a perfect standard—His Standard; 4) G-d’s people have come out of the world by their faith, and are covered by the blood of Y’shuaJesus in the final judgment–being made righteous with Messiah, through Messiah.
Thank You, Lord Y’shuaJesus, Messiah. Bless us, Keep us, Shine upon us. Amen