Volume. XX, No. 25
Sunday, 18 December 2005

Judges and Justice

Over the last few months, journalists have reported on several Australians awaiting the outcome of their legal court trials in several countries. As Australians we enjoy the opportunity of free speech and we may have expressed our opinions on the cases of Sharpelle Corby, Michelle Leslie and the Bali Nine trials in Bali, David Hicks in Guantanamo as well as the death penalty imposed on Nguyen Tuong Van in Singapore. Some may say that justice has been done or will be done while others express that there has been a travesty of justice.

What is Justice? “Justice is a concept involving the fair, moral, and impartial treatment of all persons, often seen as the continued effort to do what is "right". Justice is a particularly foundational concept within most systems of "law," and draws highly upon established and well-regarded social traditions and values. From the perspective of pragmatism, it is the name for a fair result. Justice is part of the debate regarding moral relativism and moral objectivism: Is there an "objective standard" of justice, under which all actions should be judged, or is it acceptable for justice to have different meanings in different societies? Some cultures, for instance, see punishments such as the death penalty as being appropriate, while others decry such acts as crimes against humanity. In some cases, justice is not equated with laws. For instance, laws that once supported slavery are now considered unjust laws such as the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 in the United States. Also, many laws of illegitimate governments may be considered unjust.” (www.wikipedia.org)

In many countries, political leaders can have a major influence on the entire moral fibre and ethics of their countries through the judges they appoint and the judicial policies they support. Because of the power judges wield and the qualities of impartiality and fairness they should possess, many in society revere the office of court judges. Let us examine the position and responsibilities of judges who implement and enforce the legal systems of countries. What lessons can we draw from the Bible on this topic on what are the qualities of a just judge?

King Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah as written in 2 Chronicles 19:5-7, appointed judges as an integral part of ruling and bringing reform to Judah and declaring specific policies to guide them. “ And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,” 2 Chronicles 19:5

Judges should take their jobs seriously.
King Jehoshaphat urged his judges to pay close attention to their appointments and the carrying out of their duties. The job of judging is not to be taken lightly and without full consideration of the facts. “And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do...”
2 Chronicles 19:6a

Judges are ultimately accountable to God alone.
Although Kings and politicians are responsible for the legal system, ultimately the judge’s authority and power is derived from God. Judges must remember that they judge for God and not to please man or the political masters who provide their appointment as judge. If they do not do so, they will contaminate the role and responsibility of their appointment “...for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.” 2 Chronicles 19:6b

Judges must serve in fear of God and not man.
Judges must not fear losing their status and judicial appointment by compromising their judgement in ruling in favour of their appointers. The fear of the Lord should guide them toward delivering a fair ruling for any case that come before them. They are to serve with a loyal and impartial heart. “And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.” 2 Chronicles 19:9

Judges must not take bribes.
Judges are not to take advantage of their power by enriching themselves with bribes. The taking of bribes may be some monetary reward or gift so as to sway decisions in the favour of one party. In a broader context, judges have to avoid the temptation of higher appointments, better remuneration, occupational benefits and conditions in return for favourable judgments for those in control of their appointment. They must not be beholden to any political powers lest they tarnish their moral character that they be just in their judgments, “...for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.” 2 Chronicles 19:7b

The role of a judge
Judges should not only decide cases that come before them but also warn and educate the community not to trespass against God. In King Jehoshaphat’s conception of the judiciary, he had an expectation that judges will use legal disputes as teaching opportunities to provide instruction to people of the law and to warn them of the consequences of violating God’s commandments. “And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the LORD, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.” 2 Chronicles 19:10

For the nations of today, some lessons can be drawn from this account contained in 2 Chronicles. People who work in the justice system could implement King Jehoshaphat’s principles because he has provided a broad outline of the Godly basis upon which true justice is founded. We may say that justice flows from Godly attributes and is grounded through a correct relationship with God. Judges can facilitate justice by committing to implement justice that honours and glorifies God, who is after all the very source of truth and justice. “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” Ps 89:14.

Let us therefore pray for more God fearing and bible believing judges to be appointed.

Dn David Yeo

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No. 24: How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet? Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Dn Edwin D’Mello’s mother, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tae-Yul Lee’s father, Winston Selavanayagam, Thomas Tan, John Tann, Kevin Tye; Sisters Kimmy Chong, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Gillian Ong’s grandfather, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law, Bee Giok Khut & her mother; Auntie Oei, & Auntie Sheila George, and others afflicted with illness. "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions: Rev & Mrs Stephen Choi & ministry (Phnom Penh & Kandal Province), FEBC graduates serving in Sihanoukville, Paillin & Battambang; b) Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam - for health & God’s provision; c) Journey mercies - Dn Edwin D’Mello (Mumbai), Dn Tony & Sis Sally Law (Adl); Bros Lincoln Law (Adl), Raphael Ng’s family (S’pore), John Wong & family (Adl/Brisb); Sisters Wendy Gong (Adl), Clara Sim (S’pore), Su Sim Toh (S’pore), Angie Yuen (Melb); d) Sketch N’ Tell ministry of Bro Hai Seng Lim; e) PR Visa applications: the George family; f) Comfort, strength & encouragement - Sis Lydia Tan, her sons, Joseph and Johnny; g) Sister B-P Churches in Australia - for unity.

Praise and Thank God for – a) AFG & Neighbourhood Bible Study groups’ meetings; b) Journey mercies - Bros Raphael Ng & family (Tas/Adl), Jonathan Liao (Adl/KL), Yul Sankey (India), Jason Tan (S’pore); Sisters Lee Lan Chong (Syd), Bernadette Lee (Tas/Adl), Auntie Sheila George & Shilsha Ninian (India), and all interstate YAF campers returning to Melbourne & Perth, & others who travelled recently.

Deepest sympathy to Sis Lydia Tan & family on the home-going of Bro James Tan yesterday. Funeral for Bro James Tan will be held on Wed, 21 December, 9.30am at Heysen Chapel, Centennial Park.

Special Item of Prayer: Provision of a car for Ps Ki.

Special thanks to all Hopefuls who provided hospitality to our interstate YAF campers.

Reminder: Please note that Worship Service next Lord’s Day starts at 10.00 am.

Looking Ahead: Watch Night Service on Sat 31 Dec, at 7:30 pm. Please prepare your testimonies for sharing.



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