Why do innocent people suffer in the courts of this world? Why do violent criminals go free? Why is justice such a scarce commodity in this day and age? This article not only reveals the root cause behind the rank injustice which is part of this world but also shows how it is all going to be changed for the better in the near future!
Any woman who has ever been raped knows the terrible, almost cruel lack of justice which permeates this world's legal systems. Some moral barbarian has assaulted and violated her very body and caused her terrible suffering. But are things made right? Are there any assurances that he will be properly punished because he deserves to be punished? Are there any assurances that the poor woman will be spared further anguish? The tragic answer to these questions is no. No court in the world can undo something which is in the past. The trauma of the assault can never be erased. But much worse is the fact that justice itself may be violated: The criminal may never be caught; if he is caught, the chances that he will get what he deserves — a good bellyful of the suffering he has inflicted on others — are slim indeed. And even worse than that, if the criminal is to be punished at all, the unfortunate woman who was raped will have to suffer again in the court system. She will have to take time out during work hours to testify. She will have to relive the terrible event again as she describes it to the court in her own words. She will have to state in her own words every gross, intimate detail of her assailant's act. She will be mercilessly cross-examined by a defense lawyer who will try to make her look like a liar. She may have to state the intimate details of her personal sex life to an open public courtroom. She may even be forced to undergo psychiatric examination to see if she is not given to lying. But even after all this, the criminal may still be able to escape the punishment he deserves if the judge doesn't have the stomach to send him to prison. Or, even if he is sent to prison, the criminal may easily get off with a light sentence or be paroled after a few months. The prophet Ezekiel was inspired to hit the nail right on the head when he declared: "... the land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice" (Ezek. 9:9, RSV). The prophet Isaiah also stated this same truth about man's legal system: "Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter" (Isa. 59:14). While the example of rape is probably the starkest example of injustice in this present evil world (Gal. 1:4), other examples, especially when you are the victim, are just as poignant. Whether your home is burglarized, you are physically beaten on a city street and sustain painful injuries, or whether your good name and honesty are maliciously attacked, it is the same legal system which will govern all these cases. At its very best, man's legal system may succeed in punishing a wrongdoer and compensating you for your injuries. But, at the very least, you will still be out large amounts of your time, and maybe some of your money (attorneys' fees). And in many cases, there will still be nothing a court can do to repair the damage. For example, according to Scripture, a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches (Prov. 22:1). And yet, if your good name and reputation are held up to ridicule in the public press as the result of a slur on your character, it is literally impossible for a court to go inside the minds of perhaps millions of people and change the wrongful impression they have of you.
Root Cause of Injustice
This is Satan's world (II Cor. 4:4). One writer once described the earth for Christians as "enemy-occupied territory." As such, all of man's legal systems, no matter how much good they can sometimes do, suffer from certain fatal flaws. When Adam chose to follow Satan rather than God (Gen. 3:6), mankind came under a curse (Gen. 3:17). Man was condemned to go his own way: Mankind, with all his inherent limitations, would have to rule himself without the benefit of God's supernatural help. Human judges are just that: human. They are not all-knowing. They are subject to pulls and urges of physical flesh, and, as all men are, subject to the direct spiritual influence of the devil himself. And so in this world, justice is in the hands of puny man. Often judges abuse their office. This often happens when they have a lifetime tenure and become accountable to virtually no one. Christ's parable of the "unjust judge," who feared neither God nor man (Luke 18:2-8), recognizes this problem. The point of this parable is that if a sour, unjust and (presumably) life-tenured judge will grant relief to a poor widow because of her continual pleadings, how much more will a just God grant relief to His people who pray to Him! The parable shows that the judges of this world are very fallible human beings. The apostle Paul made this precise point when he chastised the members of the Church of God at Corinth for going "to law before the unjust" (I Cor. 6:1). It is because of the natural tendency of human judges to be subject to the sway of the devil that God continually admonished the leaders of His people in ancient Israel to judge legal matters rightly. "Thus speaketh the Eternal of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment" (Zech. 7:9). But true judgment easily escapes fallible human judges. No man can know everything about a matter. Only God views all human events with an objective and right perspective.
Through a Glass, Darkly
The apostle Paul spoke of the human limits to man's judgment when he said that in this life now "we see through a glass, darkly" (I Cor. 13:12). Man's five physical senses aren't always equal to the task of discovering the real truth of a matter. For this reason, all of man's legal systems get mired down in problems of evidence. What is the truth of a matter? How can we absolutely know how a certain event occurred? To return to our rape victim — she has to tell a court what happened if
"When God restores His government to the earth, t here is going to be justice, fair play, and equity in the affairs of men."
the criminal is ever to be punished. Else there is simply no way that human beings can ever know if she really was attacked! The Bible recognizes these human limitations. In fact, one of God's Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not bear false witness" (Ex. 20:16), centers on a courtroom-type situation. Often the only way you can know something is by human testimony, and human memory is often a dull, inaccurate instrument. This is why many contracts must be in writing. And it is also the reason that, when courts do rely on human memory, God Himself has commanded that the testimony not be false.
Time and Money
Another defect in man's legal systems is that those who aren't rich often literally cannot afford justice. Going to court takes time, and many people cannot afford to leave their work for any extended period, and then do so only at great cost. Worse, legal battles in some countries can take literally years! An individual could be stripped of his life savings, or severely injured, and yet it can be years before he ever sees any restitution. Court rules of procedure are fiendishly complicated, and a lawyer is usually necessary if one is going to get anything accomplished. Yet in America, lawyers charge around $50 an hour, and going through a trial can take scores of hours! Moreover, even if one is completely in the right, he will still have to pay for his own lawyer. This fact alone virtually ensures that in many instances of rank injustice, one will still be much worse off than when he started — even if he wins! In some countries, very poor people have access to "free" legal services in such matters as welfare payments, school integration, or disputes with their landlords. But even then, poor people still do not have access to free services for their most pressing problems, which almost always involve child-support and alimony payments. No wonder God absolutely condemns a situation where the poor are taken advantage of, cast off (as in divorce), often literally robbed or swindled, and yet are provided no justice: "[Wicked men] judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Eternal: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?" (Jer. 5:28-29.) "Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: everyone loveth gifts [bribes], and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them" (Isa. 1:23).
In This Present Evil World
Perhaps the most aggravating thing about man's legal systems — particularly the Anglo-American common-law system — is that until the government of God is restored to this earth, we aren't going to be able to do too much better. This is because it is an abomination when an innocent person suffers wrongly (Deut. 19:10, 13; Job 4:7). Consider the rape example again. There are, in this present evil world, women who will falsely accuse a man of rape. For this reason, there have to be some procedures to make sure that an accuser is telling the truth. The woman will have to go to court because a man should have the right to confront his accusers. And she ought to be subject to what could indeed be the horrible trauma of having to tell her story over again, because the painful fact is that human beings are swayed by Satan the devil and, like the devil (John 8:44), do not always tell the truth. The Proverbs also speak of the need for such legal procedures as cross-examination: "He that is first in his own cause seemeth just: but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him" (Prov. 18: 17). It is a cruel fact of Satan's world that certain legal rules are necessary to ensure that innocent people do not suffer. And even with these rules, the fact is that innocent people do suffer. For this reason, we can be thankful when, under the government of man, courts properly think before they act, and when there are numerous legal procedures to ensure that all sides of a controversy are heard, and that there has been opportunity for each side to be heard. Lawyers call this "due process," and its roots go directly back at least to the Magna Carta. Even today, the most horrendous violations of fair play take place when courts do not give all sides the opportunity to be heard and make their case. The Bible puts its stamp of approval on the idea of "due process" also. That is why God commanded the ancient Israelites that testimony in capital crimes could not be entered unless it was corroborated by at least two witnesses (Deut. 17:6). Even though they may cause frustrating delay, the complicated rules of procedure in modern legal systems prevent worse injustice: the kind of kangaroo-court situation where a man or an institution is condemned without getting the opportunity to be heard, sometimes even without notice that a trial is going on at all! It seems that, in Satan's world, we only have the distasteful choice of delay and expense or — even worse — the punishment of the innocent.
The Glorious World Tomorrow
When God restores His government to the whole earth, things are going to change. For once there is going to be justice, fair play, and equity in the affairs of men. The blatant, anguishing wrongs of Satan's world will be forever banned. In the first place, God will not allow the kind of evil event to take place which today cannot be remedied. Evil acts which hurt and maim and wound will simply not happen. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain" (Isa. 11:9). People will be instructed in the right, just way of life before they do any harm. "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (lsa. 30:21). Moreover, the hurts and wounds of past wrongs in Satan's world will be made right. "I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Eternal" (Jer. 30:17). "Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Eternal" (Heb. 10:30). Unlike puny men, God is omniscient and knows the real truth about any given matter. Many legal matters rest on someone's intent — what he actually believed in his heart! Feeble man must rely on circumstantial evidence to judge intent. Not so with God! "[God] knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Ps. 44:21). Man is often unable to surmount his very limited faculties to be able to know anything. But God reveals knowledge! God knows all the facts! Job asked the question, "How doth God know? Can he judge through the dark cloud?" (Job 22:13.) The apostle Paul answered him when he declared that "God shall judge the secrets of men" (Rom. 2:16). God is the perfect Judge. He is "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). "With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth" (Isa. 11:4). Under God's government, leaders "shall no more oppress [God's] people.... [and they will] remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice" (Ezek. 45:8-9). God is a "God of truth" (Isa. 65:16), and "justice and judgment are the habitation of [His] throne" (Ps. 89:14). Indeed, one of the very reasons that Jesus Christ will return to earth is to establish justice: "... for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth" (Ps. 96:13).
When God Shall Wipe Away All Tears
God put something into the human spirit which cries out for justice when a wrong has been done. This something is a natural part of the human mind and is one of the reasons why we always feel good when we see a Western movie and, in the end, the bad guy gets what he really deserves. Of course, in Satan's world, innocent people suffer and guilty criminals go free. For this reason, men have invented the doctrine of purgatory — the idea is that everyone has to pay for all his wrongs before he can be admitted to heaven. And men's natural need to see justice done is why some people cling to the doctrine of an ever-burning hell. In their minds, justice demands that people like Hitler and Stalin deserve to literally fry forever in eternal agony. The true God, of course, is not so cruel that He would condemn someone to eternal torture. But He will not compromise with justice (that is, His perfect, just and holy law) either. For that reason God sent His Son Christ to suffer and die to pay the penalty for all the hurtful wrongs which have occurred in this present evil world. On the "eternal ledger," Christ's life easily makes up for all the wrongs which sinful men have committed since the time of Adam. When all is said and done, the problem of eternal justice will be solved by the very sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This same Christ is the One who will soon return to establish justice on earth.