“Because I, the Lord, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Yesterday, we talked about the fact that when God comes, it will be for judgment. More than that, He will serve as both the judge and the star witness for the prosecution. We talked through the various injustices against which He will serve as a witness. It all ultimately directed us to three points, I said. The first point was that getting religion wrong invariably leads to getting issues of justice wrong. There is a direct connection from one to the other. The second point was that this whole trial scene in v. 5 was fundamentally unjust because there was no one to speak on behalf of the accused. That led us to a third point…which we are going to talk about this morning.
There was definitely a tension surrounding this second point. On the one hand, we see a clear injustice here. The defendants in a trial should be able to mount a defense. They should be able to produce their own witnesses to help them make their case. They deserve an advocate just like the plaintiffs do. This is entirely absent from what we see in v. 5. On the other hand, we know God is just. His coming will be for the purposes of judgment and justice. So then, how can a just God be presiding over an unjust trial?
The simple answer is this: He can’t be. We are not seeing the full picture of things here. We are only seeing them as the people of Israel could see them from their vantage point on the opposite side of the cross from where we are now. And it is this verse we are looking at this morning that points us firmly in this direction.
In a trial the likes of which the people were facing, they didn’t stand a chance. With His serving as both judge and star witness for the prosecution, the deck was stacked so high against them that they didn’t stand a chance of receiving anything but a crushing guilty verdict. And if our God were not a just God, that is exactly what they would receive. But they don’t. Why? Because that’s not the kind of God He is. They are not going to be destroyed because His character doesn’t change no matter how He might be feeling in a given moment.
Okay, but what is this really doing for us? What was it doing for them? It was pointing them forward. It was pointing them forward to something that we can now see with clarity on this side of the cross. Our God is unfailingly just and so the accused would have an advocate. God Himself would be their advocate. He would be their–and our–advocate in the person of Jesus Christ. And His advocacy would not be to question the accusations of the witness for the prosecution, but to pay the price assigned by the judge when the guilty verdict was returned.
Think about the wonder and majesty of this. God the judge steps down from the bench to make the case that the defendants–that we–are unquestionably guilty. And His case is solid too. There is not the slightest flaw in His presentation. Our guilt is absolutely settled. He then steps back up to the bench and renders His decision: Guilty. Guilty and the just punishment for such crimes as we have committed is death. And just as the reality of our fate settles on us like a weighted blanket, He steps down from the bench again, but this time it is to come to our side of the courtroom. The whole room waits with baited breath to see what He will do now. When He speaks, it is not to question or challenge the decision. He simply says that He will pay the price on our behalf because it is too much for us to bear. Justice will still be served, but it will be by His death instead of ours. Stepping back to the bench then, the Judge considers for a moment and then pounds His gavel to indicate the offer has been accepted. The case is closed. Our God then steps into yet a fourth role in the room. He becomes the one indicted awaiting His execution to pay the price for our sins.
What a great God we serve! Is this not a God who is worthy of your life and devotion? He does not change, He has not changed, He will not change. And because of that, life is available to you if only you will receive it. You do not have to be destroyed by the weight of your guilt. You can receive His offer of life and live as you were always meant to live. I hope you will.