“Trials and Tribulations” is not what this paper is about. It is about the other kind of trial, the courtroom kind. Through the courtesy of television practically every person is familiar with this kind of trial. From the History Channel’s re-runs of the Nuremberg war crimes trials to CNN’s coverage of the current United States President’s legal woes, such legal events are depicted. Even the fictional programs, such as Law and Order, give us an appreciation of the courtroom scene. It is apparent in all of these examples that the prime focus during the trial is fairness. The prosecuting attorney must make a compelling case against the accused without overstepping the legal requirements for evidence. Likewise the defense attorney (or advocate) must make every effort to use the benefits given under the law for the client. When these efforts are compromised or misused, we usually scream “unfair, unfair” and rightly so. Who would want to be the defendant if the legal system did not “work” for us? This, we presume, is why there is a judge, or referee, present during the trials. The judge has the responsibility to insure the “fairness” of the trial on behalf of both the State and the defendant. They, too, come under our scrutiny, and we also judge the judges on their performance and accurate interpretation of the law. The media comments on Judge Ito’s handling of the O.J. Simpson trial are testimony to that premise.
But, what would you think if the trial were totally one-sided? By one-sided I mean that the Judge and one of the opposing parties were in total agreement about all aspects of the trial! “Unfair, unfair” would be the cry. Would this charge always be justified? Let me give you two examples of such trials, and you decide if they are unfair or not.
The first is described in the book of Zechariah chapter three. In the first verse the courtroom scene is described. The defendant is Joshua (the high priest, not the early leader of Israel), the prosecutor is Satan, the defense attorney is the angel of the LORD (the preincarnate Christ), the judge is the LORD. Seem a little unusual perhaps? How could one fairly prosecute a defender if the defense attorney and the judge were the same person? The reality of the situation is, however, that the defendant has already been declared not guilty! Since you cannot be tried twice for the same crime, it is the prosecutor who is acting improperly, and how else could he act, since he is the father of all lies (John 8:44). This seemingly unfair, terrible trial will have justice as its outcome. It is interesting to note that Joshua does not utter a word in his own defense. Defendants are not required to take the stand in their own defense, but many do so for the sake of swaying the judge and jury in their behalf. Joshua’s personal defense is quite inadequate. He stands there in putrid rags, a symbol that he has no righteous works to offer in his own behalf. Remember, this is the high priest of Israel. His temple duties are those prescribed by the LORD, and yet all that he has done does not put him in good standing with the judge, the LORD. Joshua’s defense attorney (advocate) is, however, sufficient for the task. His defense is that Joshua is a chosen one, a brand plucked from the fire. How could the prosecutor possibly present a case against the choice of the Judge and the defense advocate? From the human point of view the deck is stacked in favor of Joshua; he cannot lose. Satan will never successfully accuse those who put their trust in the LORD. This should boost believers’ confidence that they can never be separated from the One Who chose them (Rom. 8:38,39).
The second trial is described in Revelation chapter twenty. While all the typical trial personnel are not described, the event is termed a judgement, and evidence is presented. That is what a trial is all about. This trial is the opposite of the one described in Zechariah. In this trial the prosecution team consists of the prosecuting attorney and the judge, and the defendants are representing themselves. Could these defendants even hope to win? Is the trial unfair? Is it stacked against them? Again the situation is one in which the guilt or innocence of the defendant has been predetermined. The evidence is the complete record of the lifetime works of the accused. As in Joshua’s case, the works he did were not sufficient to exonerate him, and the works of the defendants in this case have the same efficacy. It is apparent that, in the eyes of the LORD, works have no merit. They cannot reconcile you, nor can they keep you from condemnation. The accused have nothing to say in their behalf, and the one who tempted them to do the evil works does not even show up on their behalf. Of course if your defense attorney is locked away with a forever sentence (Rev. 20:10), there is little hope that he will be there when you need him most.
It would seem from the above terrible trials that the only logical thing to do is to get on the good side of the judge! This judge will not make any mistakes, nor will any bias or contrary opinion persuade him. He is the Judge of all the earth, and “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). How does one get on the “right side” of this Judge? Well, this is a rather unusual Judge. We have noticed this since He is also the prosecuting attorney in the Revelation case. But even more unusual is the fact that He realizes that true justice declares you and me to be guilty! To top that, He not only finds us guilty of crimes against His moral absolutes; He steps down from the bench and willingly accepts the penalty due us for our crime, the death penalty! At this point one should be speechless and have nothing to say in one’s defense. The Judge only asks, “Do you accept what I have done for you?” I cannot speak for you, but I would jump at the chance! How illogical to be found guilty of offending God, knowing that there is no defense, that the penalty is death, and not accepting the offer of God! The payment, made by God at the cross of Jesus Christ, was a penalty that could not be born by any of us. He carried it. Accepting the historical fact that the death of Christ was the payment for all penalties due me for actions that displeased God is the only way to get a fair trial. The sentence is everlasting so your decision on the correct attorney (advocate) is crucial. Don’t be the defendant in a trial that you cannot win.