When one reads through the Old Testament prophets one picks up on the theme that judges ought to be righteous in their judgments. Isaiah pleads with them: “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). Jeremiah scolds them: “They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge” (Jeremiah 5:28). Micah preaches to them:
“Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.” (Micah 3:9-12)
When we think of the standard for Moses recalls setting the standard for righteous judgment in Deuteronomy 1:16, “And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.” Moses also tells us that the point of having judges to begin with is to uphold that which is right and condemn that which is wrong. He writes, “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked” (Deuteronomy 25:1). Seemingly more and more, however, judges in our country are condemning the righteous and justifying the wicked. Indeed, if a judge does not judge righteously then state corruption and anarchy are the ultimate results.
Lest we think that judges in our country are blameless in this regard, consider the case of Robert Harlan, a man convicted of rape and murder in Colorado 10 years ago. During the sentencing phase, the judge in the case instructed the jury to make an “individual moral assessment.” Taking this to heart, several jurors researched Bible passages and discussed them with other jurors during deliberation. Based upon these deliberations, the man was sentenced to death. Recently, however, the Colorado Supreme Court reviewed the case and found (by a vote of 3 to 2) that the jurors had acted improperly in so consulting the Bible. The man’s sentence was changed to life without parole simply because the jurors consulted the Bible in making their own “individual moral assessment.” Is this justifying the righteous and condemning the wicked? It is just the opposite.
In contrast, consider the case over which America has been gripped this past week, Terri Schiavo. Here is a woman who could have lived and been cared for by parents who loved her, but because of the actions of one man and many judges, was starved to death over a period of twelve days. What kind of judge would allow someone to take food and water away from the weak, needy, and defenseless? In contrast to a man guilty of murder who will now live the rest of his natural life and be cared for at the expense of the taxpayer, this woman was, more or less, sentenced to death simply because she was disabled and could not express her desire to live. Even noted liberal Jesse Jackson said, “I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips.” He then said, “This is a moral issue and it transcends politics and family disputes.” I couldn’t agree with him more, yet the judges that reviewed this case and intervened in this situation failed to see what Jackson clearly saw, namely, that we have a moral obligation to help, not destroy, the weak. Again we ask, is this justifying the righteous and condemning the wicked? It obviously is not!
David understood the potential havoc that a corrupt judiciary could wreak upon a nation. He wrote about it in Psalm 82. David pleas for justice, but ultimately concludes that in the face of wicked judges, God will ultimately judge a nation. (Please note that “the gods” in this passage refers to Israel’s judiciary.)
“God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.”
What will happen if our judges continue to condemn the righteous and justify the wicked? God says through Jeremiah, “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 5:29). I’m afraid for our country and what God will do to her should we continue on the course that our judiciary is currently taking us and God would be right in so destroying us if that’s where we’re headed.