SOAP Journal – 22 May 2017 (Deuteronomy 16:20)

Justice, [and only] justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 16:20

Sandwiched between Moses reminding the Israelites to regularly observe the Feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Booths and a prohibition against planting “sacred groves” around God’s altar is a reminder to appoint judges and a brief bit of guidance for those judges.

Moses could have gone on at length giving guidance for the judges, but there was very little reason. While the Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness, there had been judges settling disputes. Less complex matters were handled by those judges and more complex matters were brought to Moses who would then put the question to God directly. The system had been in place and working for 40 years or thereabouts.

But the judges who had been deciding things in the wilderness had been vetted by God. The people had put them forward, but God had confirmed the choices by putting some of the Spirit that had been in Moses into those men. Moses states that the Israelites will appoint their own judges when they get into the Promised Land. No mention is made of whether or not the people will seek God’s approval of these men. Just as Moses gives instruction about what a king should and should not do — despite the Israelites having no king over them when the instruction is given — he also gives instruction about what the judges and officers are to do when they are appointed.

What does this instruction to judges and officers have to do with me?

It is good practice. Moses instructs the future judges and officers to pursue … justice. They are not to take bribes or the apply one standard to one person and another standard to another. They are, simply put, to be consistent.

As a believer, I, too, am told to be consistent. I am not to tell someone that a thing is wrong, then turn around and say that it is okay for me. If it is wrong, then it is wrong. If it is wrong for my children to be disrespectful to my wife and me, then it is just as wrong if my wife or I were to be disrespectful to our parents. If it is wrong for my children to spend too much time in front of a screen, then it is also wrong for me to do so. I cannot be inconsistent with my standard. If I have inconsistent standards, then I proclaim with my life that morals and ethics and rules in general are relative. And that simply is not true.

Let me live consistently, applying the same standard to all and sundry.

Father, thank You for Your consistency. Thank You for being the Righteous Judge and for showing no partiality. Please work the same heart in me, that I might be consistent in all my dealings and apply Your Law to myself in the same way I would apply it to others.

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