It is controversial to discuss anything having to do with the word "judge" in our age. This parsha is entitled judges and immediately tells the kingdom of God not to forsake judgment, but rather to set up judges "to judge the people with righteous judgment." What does the world look like when there is no judgment and all do what is pleasing to themselves -- the world, dear Reader, then becomes a chaotic anarchy, whereas the Torah gives us a consistent order, and that order must come through Law and righteous judgment, as already detailed within the Torah.
In the above, I used the phrase "kingdom of God" and I do hope you caught that. It was purposeful because when we think of these words -- the kingdom of God -- we often think of Messiah's analogies in connection with a future time, or we think solely of that future time. We think He is describing "heaven" -- a future place for a future time, not for once considering New Jerusalem, nor scarcely considering the nation in the wilderness who was given the Torah. When I think of the kingdom of God, I think of the first time God set up a physical kingdom of a people, and that brings me to these people, the exodus-Israel, and true to any kingdom, it has rules for its operation and those rules are Torah. Therefore, if I want to know what the future will be, I've got to look at what is pleasing to the King, what is right in the King's eyes, and not my own. This is where the Torah will challenge us -- on if we stand with its judgments.
That brings me to another subject I want to discuss, that is imperative to judgment, or to being a judge, and that subject is bearing witness. Revelation 11 gives us an account of 2 witnesses. It is an interesting choice of words, and begs a question. Now, that question most of us have is, "Who are these witnesses?" However, what of the question, "What is their purpose?" It is important to ask this because in a day when someone can't even quote Torah to a supposed brother in Messiah without being told, "You aren't my Holy Spirit," or "Judge not," or some other insult to brotherhood and the Torah, I have long had it whispering in my ear that the dividing revelation on whether someone is a Kingdom citizen of not is their ability to be witness for the Torah's sake.
Who are those witness -- are they Enoch and Elijah, Moses and Elijah, the two olive trees in Zechariah, Jew and Gentile, Judah and Israel? I mean, you have heard of many suggestions and hours of argument on this case, but once again, Friend, I ask you what is the purpose of being labeled as a witness in the final days, what is the importance, and what does it mean to be one?
Like all things in the New Testament, the idea is originally described in the Old Testament. This parsha specifically, where judges are set up, gives us a purpose of witnesses:
"The death sentence is to be carried out only if there was testimony from two or three witnesses; he may not be sentenced to death on the testimony of only one witness." -- Deuteronomy 17:6 Complete Jewish Bible, on serving other gods
"One witness alone will not be sufficient to convict a person of any offense or sin of any kind; the matter will be established only if there are two or three witnesses testifying against him." -- Deuteronomy 19:15
See, friends, we live in the midst of a religion -- mainstream Christianity -- where the people have risen up above God and judged His judgments as severely harsh and unloving. What we know is that the Torah is pleasing to God and is God's ideal kingdom set-up. I could not imagine that such people would be able to be a citizen of God's kingdom in the wilderness, or even in the land once they got there, as if reproving someone's sin with God's Word through your tongue is not accepted and is considered "unloving" then imagine when the Law called for your witness, and in being that witness the Law called for you to cast that first stone, like it does in the case of false god worship (Deut 17:2-7). (Now, I know the first thought is to go to what Messiah said regarding the adulterous woman -- and I want to ask you seek her situation against Torah -- there were witnesses, but where was the man?) Once again, a dividing revelation.
In coming to this conclusion, I've realized that I've had some divine appointments in the past that helped open my eyes to these thoughts. Several years ago I had the painful job of being a witness against my own brother that led to his arrest and imprisonment for his crimes against the State, against the community, and against his family. I had, thereafter, also bore witness against another loved one that meant something dear would get taken away from me. In both cases, my witness meant real consequences, real changes (I knew the authorities would act immediately upon my witness), and in both cases it was the right thing for the victims involved, though a painful thing for me. I look back, now seeing how everything worked out in the long run, and first I thank God for teaching me sacrifice, and I thank God for the strength to have bore witness in those cases because to see everyone that once was in turmoil over the injustices, be stable and in peace, the Lord taught me the importance of stepping up to be a witness against injustice, and that no matter how painful it is, it does bring about judgment, but that judgment is meant for order and peace for "the all."
It didn't come without tossing and turning. I went back and forth and on my knees, in tears, with prayer partners over those matters. To be a witness or not. These things would continue if I didn't and only get worse; but if I did be a witness, would I lose my brother, would I lose that other loved one, my blood family? Finally, I had to realize what was my job and what wasn't. Being a witness is what God called me to do, not the judgment. I was so worried about the judgment, but that is not my job. My job is to be the witness, and leave the judgment for the judge. I reported those things I was witness against, and washed my hands of the judgment to let God and those He established for that job, do their job. I can reflect now that even the Kingdom of God works this way.
Yes, God is judge to be the One to carry out the judgment, but what of witnesses that testify to the judge? Beloved, is that you and me? When I compare the "End" to what was already established as good and just (as Paul says of Torah), then I conclude that judgment calls for witnesses and those witnesses are the fellow citizens that have indeed seen. I would conclude we are then witnesses for the upcoming judgment.
In conclusion, I would like to talk about the testimony of a witness. A witness is so important to a kingdom that its position is found even in the Ten Words, "Do not bear false witness." We have read this over and over and equate this with tale-telling, or lying -- "do not lie" -- while at the same time we justify Rahab's lying because it preserved the lives of the spies and preserving life takes precedence always in the Torah. This is not what I say, this is what I hear out there, and I'm not disagreeing, but what I will say is that if we take the lens off and read the Word for what it says, we see that bearing false witness means just that. It means to bear false witness, and witness leads to judgment. The Word does say things about tale-telling and fibbing, but it is not to the degree of the sin of bearing a false witness, which is a false testimony that leads to judgment. "False witness" is a term having to do with judgment.
"If a malicious witness comes forward and gives false testimony against someone, then both the men involved in the controversy are to stand before Adonai, before the cohanim and the judges int he office at that time. The judges are to investigate carefully. If they find that the witness is lying and has given false testimony against his brother, you are to do to him what he intended to do to his brother. In this way, you will put an end to such wickedness among you." -- Deuteronomy 19:16-19
Remembering that people bore false witness to do harm to their brother who they witnessed against, and/or to do harm to their brothers, the rest of the community, by withholding their witness and falsely denying it. The job of a witness belongs to the citizens of the Kingdom of God, and the willingness to be an honest witness either way it turns out, is (like I've contemplated above) the dividing revelation on your citizenship.
Finally, friends, I will end with a portion from the Brit Chadashah:
For if we deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but only the terrifying prospect of Judgment, of raging fire that will consume the enemies. Someone who disregards the Torah of Moshe is put to death without mercy on the word of two or three witnesses... -- Hebrews 10:26-28
Judgment is the Lord's, but who are the witnesses leading up to it?
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