Parashat Shoftim (Judges)
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18–21:9
This week's Scripture reading is called "Judges" because it opens with the requirements that God made for Israel to appoint Judges over them:
You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. “You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.
The judges' role was to judge the people in righteousness, without any favors, bribes, or manipulation. The unfortunate reality is that our sinful nature (which we all have) always gets in the way, and therefore, we will never truly be able to judge fairly without prejudice. However, I do believe that this instruction is once again prophetic, which points to fulfillment in Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua speaks of His role as Judge, which the Father has assigned Him:
For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
Just like in the days of old, God is the one who appoints the Judges; we see that His plan culminates in the fulfillment of Yeshua as the ultimate, final Judge who will judge the world in the final age. He is the only one who can judge the world in truth and righteousness.
In the above verses from John, we also see that God appointed the Son and that He who wants to honor the Father must also honor the Son. We also see that the byproduct of hearing God’s Word is obedience, which is rooted in faith. This faith is the only way to eternal life!
The Father is the One who sent the Son. The Father is the One who gave the Son. And the Son is the One to whom we are to listen. The concept of a God-sent messenger is not a new concept but rather one that was written long ago. In fact, we see this in this week's reading:
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”
Moses - who was the greatest man of that generation, a man who the people of Israel considered (and many still consider) to be God's divine messenger, the greatest prophet, the king of that time, and the deliverer of the people - said that God would send someone like him and that to him we are to listen:
This Moses whom they disowned, saying, “WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?” is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD SHALL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’”
We see that even Moses spoke of Yeshua, who was not just a prophet, but so much more! Do you know the One that the Father sent, the righteous Judge of the world to whom each of us will need to give an account?