The Judge Do you believe in divine judgment? Do you believe in God who acts as our Judge?
Many do not, settling on an idea that a loving God could not also be our Judge. But talk to some of God as a Father, a friend, a helper, and One who loves us despite all of our sins and flaws, and you are instantly speaking in one accord with their thoughts.
But speak to them of God as judge, and they may frown and shake their heads with thoughts recoiling from such an idea. They find it unworthy to even consider, yet there are few things stressed more strongly in the Bible than the reality of God’s work as judge.
Judge is a word often used to describe Him. Abraham, speaking on behalf of Sodom, the sin-filled city that God was about to destroy, said, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen 18:25).
Jephthah, finishing his message to the Ammonite invaders, said, “I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon” (Judg 11:27 KJV).
“It is God who judges,” declared the psalmist (Ps 75:7); “Rise up, O God, judge the earth” (Ps 82:8).
In the New Testament, the writer to the Hebrews speaks of “God the Judge of all” (Heb 12:23 KJV).
Rest assured, we will be judged for our sins accordingly. What are the characteristics of the Judge, you may wonder?
Jesus Himself says “The Father. . . has entrusted all judgment to the Son. . . And he has given him authority to judge. . . A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out-those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (NEB has “will rise to hear their doom”) (John 5:22, 27-29).
Jesus , who is the world’s Savior, is its Judge as well. What does this mean, and what is involved in the teaching of the Father, or Jesus, being a judge? The judge is a person with absolute authority.
In Biblical times, the king was always the ultimate judge, because his will was the ruling authority and decision. It is on that basis, according to the Bible, that God is the judge of His world.
As our Maker, He owns us, and as our Owner, he has a right to dispose of us. He has a right to make laws for us and to reward us according to whether or not we keep them. In most modern states, the legislature and the judiciary are divided, so that the judge does not make the laws he enforces; but in the Biblical world this wasn’t true, and it also is not with God. He is both the Lawgiver and the judge.
The judge is a person identified with what is good and just. The modern idea that a judge should be heartless and dispassionate has no place in the Bible. The biblical judge is expected to love justice and complete fairness and to loathe all ill treatment of one person by another.
An unjust judge, who has no interest in reconciling fairly and seeing right over wrong, is by biblical standards a monstrosity. The Bible leaves no room for doubt that God loves righteousness and hates iniquity, and that the idea of a judge fully identified with what is good and correct is perfectly fulfilled in Him.
The judge is also person of wisdom, able to discern truth perfectly in all situations. In biblical times, the judge’s first task is to consider the facts in a case that is presented before him. There was no jury; it was his responsibility, and his alone, to ask questions, cross-examine facts and evidence, to detect lies and pierce through evasions, and establish how all matters really stand.
When the Bible discusses God judging, it emphasizes his sovereignty and wisdom as the searcher of hearts and the finder of all facts and truth. Nothing can escape Him; we may fool men, but we cannot fool God. He knows us and judges us exactly how we really are.
When Abraham met the Lord in human form at the oaks of Mamre, he allowed Abraham to understand that he was on the way to Sodom, to view and establish the truth about the moral situation there for Himself. “The LORD said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know’”(Gen 18:20-21).
It will always be this way - God will know. His judgment is according to truth - the factual truth, as well as moral truth. He judges “the secrets of men,” not just their public facade.
As Paul stated, “We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor 5:10 RV).
The judge is a person of power to execute sentence.
The modern judge does no more than pronounce the sentence and then another department of the judicial executive then carries it out. The same was true in the ancient world.
God, however, is his own executioner. As He examines and sentences, so also He punishes. All judicial functions coalesce in Him.