Shoftim (Judges)

Torah: Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12 Brit Chadasha: I Corinthians 5:9-13

Appoint judges and officers within all your gates, which YHVH your Elohim is giving you, according to your tribes.  And they shall judge the people with righteous right ruling. Deuteronomy 16:18

This is a loaded verse in my opinion and we need to take the time and examine the Hebrew in this verse.  When you look the word judges up in Jeff Benner’s Ancient Hebrew Lexicon you find something very interesting.  It means to rule over cases of dispute or wrong doing and the word officer means overseer.  The word righteous here means straight.  The Hebrew gives us a picture of someone who serves, is honest, and just.  In today’s society seems like this kind of talk or ‘person’ is archaic and ancient.   Why is that?  We could sit and debate all the reasons as to why but what I have been experiencing lately in my life is that why not focus on you for a change?  Do I think AmeriKa is out of control?  You bet you I do.  Each day it continues to grow stranger and stranger it seems.  In my opinion, the things we are seeing and thinking are so important are actually secondary to where the real issue lies.  And they shall oversee, serve, and execute straight narrow judgments with the people (JAV).  That was Joel’s amplified version of the last part of the verse in Deut. 16:18.  Again we clearly see that the ‘overseers’ who are ‘over’ us aren’t probably the most set-apart people that would come to our minds while answering a top 10 list for most set-apart people alive today.  We all can see there are problems but my point is why aren’t we asking the question WHY HAS/IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?????????  I believe the answer is simple and the answer can be found within us.  We all were disobedient at one time or some of us multiple times and even possibly right now a few of us may have a crick in our neck, so to speak i.e. stiff necked.  I am not criticizing or being negative but if we would put our time, effort and all our being focused on you and me living our lives righteously and according to the Father’s instructions, I think we would be having a whole different outcome.  We can no longer allow distractions, no matter where they may come from or which side they come from, to take our attention off of the problem at hand.  There is a reason why our leaders aren’t overseeing righteously and I truly believe the Father is finally allowing us to taste the fruit of unrighteousness.  I find the taste to be rancorous and repugnant.  I’m just being honest but again there I go putting the focus back on the leadership when we should be examining ourselves and overseeing first ourselves and then help others along the path.

‘But if you do not obey Me, and do not do all these commands, and if you reject My laws, or if your being loathes My right-rulings, so that you do not do all My commands, but break My covenant, I also do this to you: And I shall appoint sudden alarm over you, wasting disease and inflammation, destroying the eyes, and consuming the life. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. ‘And I shall set My face against you, and you shall be smitten before your enemies. And those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.  Leviticus 26:14-17

There are multiple examples in the Scriptures where Israel’s condition was in shambles spiritually speaking and the Father allowed the nations to come do their thing and overrun Israel with the hopes of Israel waking up from her deep slumber and returning to Him.  These Older Testament stories don’t seem so archaic after all because we can see how the patterns work.  They come back around full circle repeating themselves.  I submit that we are not experiencing something new in our society with its decline in morals, ethics and spirituality; we are finally beginning to see the fruit that rebellion through disobedience brings.  This did not go from seed to fruit overnight.  It has been in a process for a long time and the flowers have started falling off leaving a fruit that is just waiting to fully mature and reproduce itself.  I think that instead of wasting time and energy on political debates and pointless debates in general, as dogs chasing their tails going around and around in circles never accomplishing anything or accomplishing the goal at hand, we should put that time and energy into self-examination where as we are not focusing on the tares if you will but are focused on the wheat being wheat and producing our fruit 100, 60, and 30 fold.  When we begin to bear fruit I believe folks will see this and we may not have to ‘deal with as many things in their lives as we thought should be dealt with.  I am not saying that we shouldn’t speak or deal with issues that is far from the truth but I think many of us involve ourselves in too many things and areas of others’ lives instead of allowing the Father to work it all out in their lives.

With that said I want to mention also we need to be very careful when we deal with others especially with those that we aren’t in relationship with or don’t know.  I’ve seen many people hurt and offended by someone calling them out or exposing them or beating them over the head with the Word.  We have enough hurt/damaged people today as it is and don’t need more because hurt people only hurt others.  I guess the point that I am trying to make here is that if we see another brother/sister in a fault or in sin our approach should be grounded in restoration.  We should not come across to others as if we have all the answers and if they would like to know more about what they are doing wrong then come to us because we have the answers that they need to be more obedient in their lives.  If we live our lives righteously then it will be evident to others around us that they aren’t experiencing the same things that we are and I’m sure that will arouse their curiosity and when they come and ask, then we can be an overseer who shares about the righteousness in which is emitted from our actions.

Many times I think we are quick to allow our emotions to come into play and many times the reason that we judge others is because we might have grace in an area that the individual we are judging doesn’t.  So keep that in mind next time you might think, man that was stupid what they were struggling with or that doesn’t even bother me how can that bother them?  This attitude is man they are weak in their walk?  That is the attitude that we must watch because it is very easy to judge others in areas that we don’t struggle with.  It is not coming from a righteous right ruling or as the Hebrew says a straight ruling.  We must be careful to allow the Father and His Word to help us make ‘straight’ judgments without our emotions getting mixed up in the mix.  Remember that passage about judging?

“For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged. And with the same measure you use, it shall be measured to you.  Matthew 7:2

Our leaders not only in politics but also in ministry need to take heed to the wisdom in verse nineteen of Deuteronomy sixteen as well as individuals.  Do not distort right ruling.  Do not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.  I’ve seen money make people change their message and beliefs.  I’ve tried to hold to a principal in my life in not allowing money to influence decisions that I make.  I can’t say that I have been perfect but what I can say is that by the grace of the Eternal I’ve never had to compromise the message that I live in order to bring in a few more debtor notes a.k.a. dollars.  From day one our message has been to all the whosoever’s out there and will continue as long as the Eternal permits.  I’ve shared this story before but want to share it again but I remember when my family and I made the transition from xtianity to a commandment keeper; the work here took a hit in offerings for a number of months because the xtians didn’t agree with the message.  It was especially tough when we made the transition because there weren’t any Torah observant folks who knew of the work here in Central America so there were moments where we wondered if we had done/heard right and moments of man what in the world are we going to do and so forth and so on.

One thing that I have seen through this all is that although we did go through some rough times; YHVH was always faithful to us and by our choice and His grace we didn’t have to compromise the message of the Kingdom.  I also have to say that now more and more Scriptural observant believers are finding out about what the Father is doing here in Central America and are willing to help/labor in the Kingdom here, and we are very thankful for that.

There was a saying that I was told a few years back, and I have found it to be very true.  It went something like this: Many people walk with each other based on what they believe instead of being based on who they are.  In other words it’s easy to walk with one another when we all believe the same because there is no conflict.  It’s all rosy but the real test comes when you can walk with others not based on what they believe but walk with them based on who they are.  That is the key and in my opinion shows maturity.  There is a lot of wisdom in the previous statement, and I have seen some good relationships go down the drain because it was no longer convenient.  We need to be a people who have/render straight judgment, if you will, and keep the message of the Kingdom from being tainted and influenced by filthy lucre and not show partiality to others just because it might cost us.  The decisions that we make today have eternal consequences for the good and bad so something that might keep us from losing a little hide and keeping us comfortable in the here and now might not be so comfortable on judgment day.

So if the message you are preaching has caused you loss or the righteous stance you have taken has caused you loss trust me YHVH hasn’t forgotten you or the loss you have suffered and there will be recompense for it or I guess I could say there will be a judgment that will be given by the just Judge that will bring a proper outcome.  So our job is to walk righteously obey His word and treat others the way we would want to be treated and start walking with others based on who they are and not only just on what they believe.