To Judge the World (2)
But the LORD shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.
He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. Psalm 9.7, 8
The judgment of the Lord
Mention the judgment of the Lord, and most people will immediately project forward to the final day of judgment, when all people will stand before the throne of God to receive their eternal disposition.
Those who stand before Him in the righteousness of Jesus, claiming nothing of their own, will enter the eternal Kingdom and joy of the Lord. Those who stand before Him claiming their own as everything, will enter the eternal separation and doom they have chosen for themselves. Not being God, as they supposed they were, they were not able to save themselves from the inevitable fate of all who reject the grace of God in Jesus Christ, preferring to make their way in life by their own wits and wiles, and for their own glory, unto their own chosen doom.
To be sure, this day of judgment is coming, and we must prepare for it daily, striving to make sure that we will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when that great assize is finally upon us.
But this is only the final judgment of God. The psalmist explains that the judgments of God are in all the earth now (Ps. 105.7). Jesus has ascended to His throne at the right hand of God, a throne from which He carries out the daily work of judging the world according to righteous judgment. His eye is on every person (Prov. 5.21). He knows every heart, what is in every man, woman, and child (Jn. 2.24). He sees all our actions (Ps. 33.13-15), and He works to administer judgment for the peoples of the world so that uprightness might prevail among men (Eph. 1.11). This word harks back to the original condition in which God created human beings (cf. Eccl. 7.29), and it connotes that overall condition of shalom which Jesus brought to the world, and which we announce and embody to the world in Him (Lk. 2.13, 14).
The Lord Jesus even now is judging the world according to righteous judgment. His judgments are in all the earth, and He is administering judgment to bring uprightness and shalom to the peoples and nations of the world.
And the effects of His judgments are visible to those who have eyes to see.
Effects of the Lord’s judgment
Psalm 9 continues (vv. 15, 16):
The nations have sunk down in the pit whichthey made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.
The LORD is known bythe judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
The sinful peoples of the world have made a mess of things. Where the shalom of God should prevail, strife, competition, animosity, oppression, indifference to suffering, cruelty, crudeness, incivility, self-seeking, manipulation, greed, wretchedness, and moral decay abound. That anything of good whatsoever comes to pass among the nations of the world is only because of the grace of God, sustaining, providing, caring for, and wooing the peoples of the world He loves (Matt. 5.44, 45; Acts 14.17; Acts 17.26, 27; Jn. 3.16).
In the midst of this situation, the Lord Jesus executes His judgments every day, on every thought, motive, priority, word, and deed of every person, everywhere. He executes His righteous judgments now to extricate the wicked from the snares by which their own works have entrapped them, so that, hopefully, they might escape the judgment which is yet to come.
Some people get this. They have come to know the judgment of the Lord in their own lives – their failed attempts to find happiness, their faltering hopes, their longing for some deliverance or some do-over in their life, and, at last, the sin which has deceived and will doom them. They see this, and they see that the Lord condemns it, and offers something much, much better. Thus, seeing the judgment of God on Jesus Christ, and by Jesus Christ on their sins, they reach out in the power of God’s Spirit to find new life in Him. And, following Him, they find joy and shalom in the judgments of the Lord. Thus, the Lord is known through the judgment He executes.
But for those who refuse to acknowledge the righteous judgment of the Lord, they become increasingly ensnared in a downward spiral of denial, degradation, disappointment, rebellion, and death (Rom. 1.18-32). The ongoing judgment of the Lord hardens the hearts of those who will not acknowledge His rule, even as it softens and transforms the hearts of those who do. Those who do see the judgments of God understand this, and they are urgent to help their neighbors escape the wrath that is coming because of their unrighteous choices (Jude 1.22, 23).
In all the earth
Every day, all day long, in every situation of life for every person on earth, the righteous judgments of the Lord Jesus Christ are at work. He is administering His judgments so that people can break free of the folly of their bad choices, be renewed in Jesus Christ, and find the peace that passes understanding and guards their hearts and minds in every situation.
What an amazing and necessary work is this judgment of the Lord! Imagine what the world would be like were Jesus not intervening with His righteous and upright judgment, leaving the wicked to their wiles and snares, and the world to increasing violence and destruction. God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son for its redemption. And all who see in Him the satisfaction of God’s judgment against their sins, enter into His work of judgment, becoming salt, light, and leaven for the uprightness and shalom of their Savior, King, and Judge. And the power of their taking-up the upright and righteous judgments of the Lord is exerted everywhere, over and over, like the sun in a world of darkness and despair (1 Jn. 2.8).
For God has appointed His people as the instruments whereby He executes His judgment in righteousness and for uprightness and shalom in all the earth.
1. In what ways have you experienced the Lord’s work of righteous judgment in your own life?
2. The words upright and uprightness appear in various places in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament. King Jesus, we are told, carries a scepter of uprightness, the emblem of His Kingdom (Ps. 45.6). What does this word suggest to you? What does it mean to be upright?
3. Does Jesus intend to extend His upright and righteous rule throughout your life? Into all the areas of life where you live, work, and have your being? What is your role in this?
Next steps – Preparation: Make sure you have mapped out your Personal Mission Field. This is crucial to exercising righteous judgment. Watch this brief video (click here), then download the worksheet and get started. If you have already mapped out your Personal Mission Field, spend time each day preparing in prayer for the places you will go and the people you will encounter there, that the Lord might execute righteous judgments unto uprightness and shalom in all your words and deeds.
T. M. Moore
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This week’s study is part 4 of a 4-part series, To Judge the World. Each part consists of seven lessons and is available as a free PDF download at the end of the study. In the tag for part 7, we’ll give you a link to download part 4, To Judge the World.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.