Judge of all
" Shall not the
Judge of all the earth do right?”
reigns.... He shall judge the peoples righteously.”
years ago, Abraham caught a glimpse of God's anger toward
Sodom and Gomorrah. Alarmed, he told the almighty
Creator of the universe,
“Far be it from You to do such a thing as
this, to slay the righteous with the wicked." Then, daring to
question God's character, he added, "Shall not
the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The answer, of course,
is "YES!" God will always "do right!" His ways are
always consistent with His own holy and righteous character. No
matter how much we -- His shortsighted, rebellious creatures --
challenge His ways, doubt His kindness and ignore His Word, He
continues to be our wise and gracious Judge, "slow to anger and great
in mercy." Psalm
In fact, the wonders of
His "right" judgments far exceed our limited understanding.
Ever since the fall, His people have tended to judge both God
and others from their own dim and distorted perspective. We want a
permissive God, so we interpret His mercy as license. We want Him to
help us gratify our own desires, so we twist His guidelines into a
blueprint for worldly success. Choosing our own ways, we blind
ourselves to His.
The sad old
picture of Israel -- "Everyone did what was right in their own eyes "
-- could as easily describe people today. Now as
then, we forget that God, not we, sets the standard for right
and wrong. And we had better listen to Him rather than to our
feelings or likeminded peers.
For "the Lord is our Lawgiver"
as well as our Judge.
His moral law (the unchanging standard of His Word by which He judges
all things) is
not like man's shifting ordinances. Though He shows compassion and mercy to all who humbly
repent and seek Him -- and though He is forbearing (patiently delaying
judgment) toward the "wicked",
this mighty Lawgiver will eventually punish the proud and
the presumptuous who mock His ways and minimize His Word.
"What right have you to
declare My statutes... seeing you hate instruction and cast My
words behind you?" He asks those who reject His law yet count on His
goodness. Then He points to their lawless acts and speaks this
warning, "These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought
that I was altogether like you, but I will rebuke you."
Psalm 50:16-17, 21
We ought to fear His rebuke, but
we rarely do. Instead our natural inclination is to justify sin
and complain when He corrects us. We just don't see
ourselves as He does! We rationalize our
own rebellion, but judge our neighbors for their offenses. We
apply the last half of
Romans 1 -- the downward slide toward
depravity -- to the unbelievers in our midst, and see ourselves as "good enough"
But God doesn't see it
that way. If
we belong to Him and are filled with His Spirit, He calls us to a far
higher standard. In
Romans 2, He asks us,
"... do you think this,
O man, you who judge those practicing such things [referring to the
list of sins in Romans 1], and doing the same,
that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you despise the
riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing
that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
How could we be "doing
the same"? We don't murder, steal, envy or commit adultery, do
Remember what Jesus said
in Matthew 5. If I have nurtured anger in my heart or
lust in my imagination, I, as a Christian saved by His grace, have
broken His law and am "in danger of the judgment." For example:
“You have heard that
it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I
say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already
committed adultery with her in his heart."
If I ignore this
principle or minimize the seriousness of my sins (for which my
Lord died), I have "despised the riches of His goodness." I have
walked by my own feeble sight and failed to see the huge gap between
His absolute perfection and the depraved patterns of my own human
nature -- a gap that ought to highlight His patience and bring me to
my knees in repentance, gratitude and genuine godly fear of the
punishment I deserve.
I don't want to
"despise the riches of His goodness" by denying my own frailties and
desperate need for the cross. I don't dare ignore my daily need for the
cleansing of His blood, for His wise disciplines and for His renewing
Life within me. Prone to wander off His holy path, I cannot
afford to ignore His warnings:
“...do not fear those who kill
the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy
both soul and body in hell."
Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold,
the Judge is standing at the door!"
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be
condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to
you.... For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to
"For judgment is
without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over
I dread the thought of
stepping outside His shelter of mercy. I know how easily I forget the
debt of sin He has
forgiven me and, like the foolish debtor in the familiar
parable, hold someone else accountable to a far smaller offense.
[Matthew 18:21-35] So I pray that my Lord will continually remind me to be patient, merciful
and quick to forgive. He has said, “Vengeance
is Mine, I will repay,”-- and I don't want to get in His way. It's
wonderful to walk in fellowship with Him, but "it is a fearful thing
to fall into the hands of the living God."
David, God's beloved
under-shepherd and king, understood that well. Convicted and brokenhearted he
mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge."
God doesn't make
mistakes. Our Judge hears our every thought and sees all our deeds. He knows the intentions of our hearts far better than we do.
He watches us day and night. He doesn't miss a step and He grieves
when our actions bring shame to His name.
According to His
righteous law, we deserve death! Yet, when we humble ourselves before
Him in repentance, our merciful Judge looks beyond our sins to the cross
Christ died in our place, paid our debt and fulfilled God's
divine law. What an amazing exchange: our sinful life for His
righteous Life! Should we not daily live for Him and let Him use
our lives to touch others with His love?
And shall we not, like
Paul, press on "toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of
God in Christ Jesus?"
Because this devoted apostle had persevered in faith and obedience, he could face the end of his earthly life with
absolute confidence in our righteous Judge. And more than anything on
earth, Paul wanted God's saving
ministry to continue through His other faithful disciples. So he left
them with this wise counsel and heavenly hope:
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who
will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His
kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in
season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will
heap up for themselves teachers;
and they will turn their ears away from the
truth, and be turned aside to fables.
But you be watchful in all things,
endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my
departure is at hand.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the
race, I have kept the faith.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that
Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."
2 Timothy 4:1-8
I thank God for opening my eyes
to His goodness! Apart from His grace, I wouldn't "love
His appearing." Most people either dread or deny that great moment --
with good reason. Whether they believe it or not, all will be
resurrected and judged for their deeds in this life -- some to eternal life
with Christ, others to eternal hell. For all must "give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."
[1 Peter 4:5] The key questions are:
you believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ?
your deeds show His life working in and through you?
If the answers written in God's
heavenly record are "Yes!" our Redeemer has paid the penalty for sin, and you
are free from the judgment of the law. You belong to the family of God
forever! But if the answer is "no," this scene follows:
"I saw a great white
throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven
fled away. And there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead,
small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And
another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were
judged according to their works, by the things which were written in
The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and
Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were
judged, each one according to his works. ... This is the second
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was
cast into the lake of fire."
Look again at those
whose names are written in God's Book of Life. If you
are among them, you are
standing at the brink of the most exciting moment in all of your
For the Lord Himself
will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,
and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with
them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall
always be with the Lord.
Therefore comfort one another with these
“Alleluia! For the
Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him
glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come."
Until that glorious day, we can sing
"Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns.'...
Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! "
1 Chronicles 16:31-34
Precious Lord, the
all-wise Judge of all,
We deserve death, not mercy; punishment, not peace.
Yet you have reached down to us in love. You took the
punishment we deserved, and you canceled the debt of judgment against
us. No earthly words can express our thankfulness for your amazing grace. But we choose
ourselves before you, fully aware that in ourselves we are totally unworthy of
such love. So we bow before you in confession and repentance for all
our foolish acts of rebellion against your ways and your eternal law -- be these
sins intentional, presumptuous, unintentional or hidden to all but your
Thank you for grace to stand before you washed in the blood of Jesus and
filled with Your righteous life. Help us to walk moment by moment in the light of the
eternal gift we have in Jesus Christ, our very life.