I love the below early judicial system. I love it because it makes sense. (Note: it’s typically good when life makes sense.)
Moses was struggling with all that was on his plate. He had boldly stood up to rulers of the day, sharing their awaited fate should they refuse to release those in captivity. Moses saw swarms of locusts and frogs and flies from afar, and he even witnessed the total separation of the Red Sea, a miracle so massive we sometimes forget it was real.
Moses was then involved when his community totally changed up their nutritional needs. He followed the clouds, so-to-speak. He also led his soldiers into battle when he seemed at the very least physically drained and exhausted, with his brother and friend actually having to hold up his arms. Moses was indeed a busy man.
And so knowing his plate was full and he thus had great potential for distraction, Moses’s father-in-law came to see him and gently speak truth. When we are so busy — so filled up with either emotion or task — sometimes it’s hard for us to see what’s true.
Moses bowed and welcomed his father-in-law; each asked the other how things had been with him. Jethro was delighted in all the good that God had done in the community. He first paused intentionally, just to thank God — noting that we often get so busy, we forget to thank he who makes the world go round. Sometimes we think we deserve the credit for all we do.
So the next day Moses took his place to judge the people — to execute the legal system — as was his practice and responsibility at the time, as the people knew they needed something organized, compassionate, and fair put in place.. Yet the people would stand before Moses all day long. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What’s going on here? Why are you doing all this, and all by yourself, letting everybody line up before you from morning to night?”
Moses told his father-in-law this was his job. “The people come to me,” so he answered their questions about what was good and who is God, and he also settled all of their judicial disputes.
Quickly, his wise father-in-law said, “That is not good.” It was too much, and one person can’t do this alone. “You need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men — men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible — and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They’ll be responsible for the everyday work of judging among the people. They’ll bring the hard cases to you, but in the routine cases they’ll be the judges. They will share your load and that will make it easier for you. If you handle the work this way, you’ll have the strength to carry out whatever God commands you, and the people in their settings will flourish also.”
I love a couple of things here. First, I love how Moses listened to the counsel of his father-in-law and did what he said.
I then love how Moses picked competent people — people with unquestionable integrity. Integrity is so important. There is some correlation between integrity and flourishing.
It reminds me what a fair judicial system is…
… and is not.
A fair judicial system is governed by one or some who listen to all relevant accounts…
It is one which has the goal of justice for all… not only for some… and allows for appropriate consequence, absent revenge.
The reason Moses could not do it all on his own is because he was stretched too far; he couldn’t listen to all relevant accounts. And thus his potential for error would have been higher.
Sometimes I see current culture also making errors in what counts as our courts…
We sometimes don’t listen to all relevant accounts. We sometimes are biased to particular bents, because of how we feel about a person or based on our own experience, which we can’t seem to separate.
Sadly, sometimes our judicial system plays on a different court.
We have allowed social media to often decide innocence or guilt, forgetting that social media is not exclusive to competent persons — persons who respect God, are of solid integrity, and who are incorruptible. We listen to what we want, discounting perspective that could be deemed as far more than inconvenient truth.
When we allow social media then to be the decider of justice, we should be the ones to say, “this is not good.”