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February 29, 2016

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Yahweh is our Judge. The Always-Present One is our Law-giver. Yahweh is our King. He will save us.
— Isaiah 33:22 IEB

It's a popular phrase these days: "Don't judge me!" The longer form is, "Only God can judge me . . ." This is usually spoken with a chip on the shoulder and an attitude that I will do what I want, you can't judge me, so go [fill in the blank with explicative]. 

If we really take seriously God as our judge, I think our attitudes and our tattoos to that effect – "Only God can judge me!" – would change. This phrase is not so much a way to reverence God as much as a license to do evil as I please. That is an example of using the Lord's name in vain. 

The fact is, we have lots of judges in our society, and that's the reality we live with. But who is truly our judge, king, ultimate ruler?

We have thousands of judges in lower and higher courts, thousands of state and federal legislators and their close supporters, and we have heads of states we call governors, leaders of towns we call mayors, sheriffs, and CEOs that act like kings. Some countries still call their heads of state "kings" but not many. 

My point is that when we read "king" in the Old Testament, even king in reference to Jesus, we need to think about somebody in charge. A king can be good or bad, but the basic idea is this person is in charge of a people. They depend on him (I'm not trying to be sexist, it's just that we have the word queen for female head of state), they often pay tribute to him, and they work for his kingdom to grow.

Israel really wanted a king back in the days of the judges. They had judges who settled disputes, and there were men and women judges in those ancient days described in the book of Judges in the Old Testament. 

But Israel really wanted a king, like the nations around them (see 1 Samuel 8:5). So they, like us, had judges, kings, and in some form legislators, prophets and priests who administered laws and oracles for kings. 

All that background to come to this: Who is really in charge of your life? Who is really in charge of your nation? Who is really in charge of our world? Do today's government, business, and church leaders really rule our world? Oh, we don't want to be ruled do we! We are self-sovereigns, we don't need anyone, do we? We are self-made people. Our self-sovereignty is just as much of a problem, by the way, as our tendency to put leaders on a pedestal. Why? Because either way it places a ruler–ourselves or others–in the place of Yahweh.


Yahweh, you are great. You dwell in your high places we do not know or understand. You fill Jerusalem and all the world with fairness and justice. Though humans may pervert justice, take bribes, cheat the vulnerable, rule ruthlessly, claim to be good but really be greedy and arrogant. You have graciously given us the power of choice, but we have misused it, and we are sorry. We want you to be for us a sure foundation. You are rich in salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. Reverence for you, Yahweh, is your treasure. (Isaiah 33:5-6)


Will you take time and seek expert advice or figure out for yourself how much you really actually pay to the government, how much you really actually give to a church or to the poor or to charities. Are you willing to fast from humble bragging about how much you pay to the government or to charities and consider the overwhelming majority of money you may be spending on yourself and family by comparison?