Read: Deuteronomy 16-18
Deuteronomy 16:18-20 – Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.
God is just and call His children to practice justice.
Moses continues to provide the instructions and commandments the Lord God gave him for how the people of Israel were to live as a covenant community in the land that He had promised to give them. In this passage, the focus is on the appointment of judges and officers in all the towns that the Israelites would possess. These judges and officers were responsible for upholding and administering justice in various legal matters. Some of the key factors that were to govern all their interactions were:
Impartiality: The judges and officers were expected to administer justice without showing partiality or favoritism. They were not to pervert justice or show partiality based on social status, wealth, or any other external factors.
Righteous Judgment: The judges were called to judge the people with righteous judgment, which involved making decisions in accordance with God’s law and principles of justice. Their judgments were to be fair, equitable, and aligned with God’s standard of righteousness.
Prohibition against bribery: The passage explicitly states that judges were not to accept bribes. Bribes can compromise justice and distort the integrity of the legal system. God’s expectation was for judges to remain unbiased and to make judgments solely based on the merits of the case.
Pursuit of justice: The overarching goal of establishing this legal system was to ensure justice within the community. The judges and officers were to diligently and actively pursue justice, striving to create a just and equitable society in accordance with God’s will.
Our God is a God of justice and righteousness (Deuteronomy 32:4). Jesus Christ by His death on the cross was the atoning sacrifice, taking upon Himself the sins of the entire world, so that when you and I accept Him by faith, we may be presented as His righteousness meeting God’s requirement of justice (Romans 3:25-26).
As His children we are called to:
- Act justly We are called to actively pursue justice in our actions, treating others with fairness, equality and dignity (Micah 6:8)
- Defend the Vulnerable: Proverbs 31:8-9 reminds us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
- Love Your Neighbour: Justice flows from genuine love for others. We are called to love our neighbour which includes treating others justly, showing compassion, actively seeking their well-being.
- Be Impartial: James 2:1 cautions against showing favoritism or discrimination based on external factors. Christians are called to treat all people with fairness, regardless of their social status, wealth, ethnicity, or any other distinguishing characteristic.
- Seek God’s Kingdom: Matthew 6:33 encourages believers to prioritize the kingdom of God and His righteousness. This involves aligning our lives with God’s principles of justice and righteousness, seeking His guidance in all our actions.
- Pray for Justice: Christians are called to pray for justice and righteousness to prevail. Psalm 72:1-4 highlights the responsibility to intercede for those in authority, asking God to grant them wisdom and a passion for justice.
- Forgive and Reconcile: While justice involves accountability for wrongdoing, Christians are also called to forgive and seek reconciliation. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Justice is not an optional add-on to our faith. It is a core component, intricately woven into the very fabric of who God is and what He desires for His creation. As we align our lives with His heart for justice, may we be instruments of His righteousness, bringing about transformation and restoration in our communities.
- How does my understanding of justice align with the heart of God, and in what ways can I actively practice justice in my daily life?
- Am I truly seeking to treat others with fairness, equality, and dignity in all my interactions, or are there areas where I need to grow in practicing justice?
- How am I advocating for the vulnerable and oppressed, and what steps can I take to further defend their rights and well-being?
For more daily devotions like this – At the Potter’s Wheel (Kindle)