One of the major issues voiced by the populace during the recent political season was the quality of Supreme Court judges the new president would nominate and support.
To address this issue with true wisdom the Bible needs to be consulted. Remember, one of the most popular Biblical quotations used in our columns has been:
“Now all these things happened to them as examples and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11
Paul’s statement refers particularly to the revelation of God’s standard of righteousness during the 40 year wilderness journey.
The book of Deuteronomy sums up God’s laws for the Israelites as given to Moses during the 40 year period following the exodus. For example; regarding judges:
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates (villages), which the LORD your God gives you…and they shall judge the people with just judgment.” Deuteronomy 16:18
A judicial system would be established for the fledgling nation in every village of the Promised Land. Note that God would give the villages to the Israelites. The appointed judges were to judge justly which means ‘rightly’ according to God’s revealed standard of righteousness.
“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality nor take a bribe…” Deuteronomy 16:19
Justice shall not be perverted (stretched, or overthrown). There shall be no partiality shown, meaning that the adjudication of any issue shall not be influenced by external factors such as the judge’s relationship with, or perception of, the one being judged.
According to the Bible there is no room in the judicial process for the giving or taking of a bribe. A bribe in this context means a gift or reward. In present day terms it could mean quid pro quo or ‘pay for play.’
“You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:20
Obeying God’s laws was/is a condition of living in and possessing the Promised Land.
And we all know Israel’s choice in the matter.
Israel also had a Supreme Court to handle matters considered too difficult or controversial for the village judges to solve.
“If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates (villages), then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses.” Deuteronomy 17:8
The place which the LORD chooses began with the location of the Tabernacle and would ultimately be located in their capital city of Jerusalem.
The ‘Supreme Court’ would consist of Levitical priests and an appointed judge. Their decision would be final.
“And you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there…they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment. You shall do according to the sentence, which they pronounce…” Deuteronomy 17:9-10
There is no further appeal. Failure to abide by the decision of the ‘Supreme Court’ required death.
“Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil from Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:12
The above was spoken in approximately 1405 BC. Let’s fast forward to the time of the kings, particularly King Jehoshaphat of Judah who ruled between 873 – 848 to see what changes might be noted after 550 years of Israel’s history.
At the beginning of Jehoshaphat’s reign he set judges over the cities of Judah at which time he instructed them in their duty.
“Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD…Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you…for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality nor taking of bribes.” 2 Chronicles 19:6-7
So, since nothing has changed in God’s judicial process, and America is a Christian nation that takes God’s word seriously, why in the ‘world’ are we concerned about any president’s Supreme Court nominations?
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