From Praying the Names of God Week Twenty-One, Day Three
Justice is ultimately rooted not in a collection of laws or rules but in the very character and nature of God. As Judge of the whole earth, he is the only One competent to measure the motivations of our hearts. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word “judge” is often parallel to the word “king.” When we pray to God our Shophet (sho-PHAIT), we are praying to the One whose righteousness demands perfect justice but who has also provided a way for us to be acquitted of our guilt through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son.
Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
and all the upright in heart will follow it. (Psalm 94:15)
PRAYING THE NAME
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
they will sing before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his truth. (Psalms 96:10-13)
Reflect On: Psalms 96:10-13
Praise God: Because perfect justice is perfectly reflected in his character.
Offer Thanks: For God’s promise to judge all people in his truth.
Confess: Any tendency to ignore the plight of the innocent.
Ask God: To help you recognize and counter injustice.
Most of us cringe a little when we hear that God is not only our Healer and Refuge, Savior and Shepherd, but also our Judge. Judgment, after all, doesn’t mesh with our ideas of love and mercy. But what if you were Eddie Joe Lloyd, languishing in prison for seventeen years for a crime you didn’t commit? Wouldn’t you long for a little bit of that heavenly judgment to come your way? For God to shed light on your innocence and restore your freedom? That’s exactly what happened on August 26, 2002, when Eddie walked out of court a free man after DNA evidence proved he did not rape and murder a sixteen-year-old girl in Detroit, Michigan, in 1984.
After the crime, police had interrogated Eddie while he was a patient in a mental hospital. During the course of these interrogations, one of the investigating officers suggested to Lloyd that by confessing and allowing himself to be arrested, Lloyd would help “smoke out” the real perpetrator. To make the confession convincing, the detective allegedly fed him details he couldn’t have known about the crime. Eddie confessed to the crime and then later recanted. At the time of the trial, the presiding judge was so convinced of Eddie’s guilt that he publicly lamented that the court did not have the power to sentence Eddie to death by hanging. Seventeen years later, incontrovertible evidence forced the same judge to free him, after Eddie had spent more than a third of his life in prison.
Sadly, injustice is an ever-present reality in our world. But rather than shrug it off as the inevitable consequence of life post-Eden, we should share the Lord’s own indignation, noting that God reserves the harshest penalties for those who fail to uphold justice for the lowly of the earth—the mentally ill, minorities, orphans, widows, and the poor. The Bible calls them “the afflicted who have no one to help” (Psalm 72:12).2 As lovers of God, we should love his judgments and hunger for the day when his justice will be established over the entire earth.
Today take time to pray for those who have been wrongly accused and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Pray that God will bring the guilty to justice and set the innocent free.
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.