Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 05 September 2013


By Jim Jordal

 And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

Zechariah 7:8-10, KJV

The path to an ethical, just, and fulfilling society is really quite simple. It consists of four moral principles which, if used, can bring about the sort of society we all envision. If you don’t trust overly simplistic solutions, think about how successful our vast governmental bureaucracy with its millions of laws and rules has been in gaining a principled and just society for the poorest half of our people. Then think about God’s simplicity arrayed against human arrogance and complexity.

The first is to "execute true judgment." This means judgment unclouded by power, money, opportunity, hatred, lust, and all other human vices and strategies that thwart justice. Think of the travesties of justice endured by minority groups and people from "the other side of the tracks" in even a supposedly just society such as ours. Think of the prisoners who have been railroaded by false witnesses and over-zealous prosecutors. And the drug users who face wildly discriminatory state laws making the sentence for ten grams of crack cocaine (the poor people’s drug) equal to 100 grams of cocaine powder (the rich, white people’s drug). And consider the poor victims of sub-prime mortgages rigged by unethical originators so they could not pay and would be foreclosed upon.

What God is really saying is that even guilty, stupid people deserve true, impartial justice. Actually, if just one Mosaic principle of justice were applied to our criminal justice system it would remove many of the injustices arising when witnesses or the legal system commit perjury. Moses said simply that if such a circumstance occurs and could be substantiated the perjurer would get the same penalty as they tried to get for the accused.

The second is "to show mercy and compassion every man to his brother." This one is the simplest of all: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). Legislated into law, this simple but powerful commandment of Jesus would transform society into what we envision as the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Third is the requirement against oppression and exploitation of the vulnerable, worded like this: "oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor." These four groups were the vulnerable people of that day. They lacked access to the income producing possibilities (mostly inherited land) available in a patriarchal, closed society. Today it would mean those who are exploited or oppressed because of their ignorance, handicaps, immigrant status, lack of saleable skills, racial differences, or sex. It doesn’t mean those who refuse to work or who reject opportunities for economic betterment. And it doesn’t mean income equality; it means income equity, which is a far different thing.

And lastly is the requirement that "none of you imagine evil against his brother in his heart." I think the recently-revealed practice of some Wall Street firms in packaging essentially worthless mortgages that were designed to fail, then insuring them through Credit Default Swaps (CDS) qualifies as "imaging evil against your brother." The idea was that they would collect on both sides—from the sale of the worthless original mortgage packages and again from the insurance when they defaulted. Folks, that’s imagining evil big time. Do people actually imagine evil against others? Do they lie awake at night plotting evil against unwary victims? The author of Proverbs seems to think so as he warns:  "Don't enter into the path of the wicked. Don't walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, and don't pass by it. Turn from it, and pass on. For they don't sleep, unless they do evil. Their sleep is taken away, unless they make someone fall" (Prov. 4:14-16 WEB).

God’s way is simple and successful. Man’s way is complicated and prone to failure. Which will it be?