Lessons From the Salem Witch Trials—Part Two

by Colin D. Standish and Michelle LaMar


Click here to read Part One.

INJUSTICE TODAY

In this world, there are many unjust judicial decisions. Some are the result of genuine mistakes; other unjust decisions have come about because of determined efforts to frame the innocent. However these wrong decisions were reached, the injustice is especially grievous in states and nations that execute offenders. It has been claimed that in the United States alone, at least 25 went to their death in the 20th century who now are believed to be innocent of the crime for which they were executed. Even larger numbers of those who are guilty of terrible crimes have been found innocent.

Over 30 years ago, the Australian people were galvanized by the Chamberlain case, in which a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and his wife were accused of the death of their nine-week-old daughter, Azaria. In spite of the paucity of evidence, Lindy Chamberlain was sentenced to life imprisonment for a crime she did not commit. She spent four years in jail before being released and eventually acquitted of the crime after evidence surfaced that supported her claim that her infant had been carried off and killed by a dingo (a wild dog native to Australia).10

In Great Britain in the 1970s, four Irish Catholics, known as the Guilford Four, were accused of bombing pubs as a political statement. They were acquitted after many years in prison when it was discovered that the evidence against them had been manipulated and contrived by the British police.11 Such events cause us to question the quality of justice, even in some of the world’s freest nations.

THE PERFECT JUST

How different from imperfect human justice is the justice of God! Every human being can confidently face God’s judgment, knowing that He, with unerring accuracy, will judge the eternal fate of every human being.

The apostle Paul was soon to lay down his life at the hands of the ruthless and despicable Nero, who wanted to blame Christians like Paul for the burning of Rome, for which he himself was likely responsible. While receiving such unfair judgment here upon Earth, Paul could look to the certain judgment of God concerning his eternal destiny. After his famous words, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,” he says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7, 8, emphasis added. What a contrast between Christ and Nero!

Sadly, there are many Christians who place God in the light of an unfaithful judge. They claim that God arbitrarily decides who will be saved and who will be lost. This error, known as predestination, is not sustained by God’s Word. Psalm 62:12 tells us that God “renders to every man according to his work.” To the church of Thyatira Jesus says, “I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:23.

Neither will there be any mistakes in God’s judgment. No innocent man or woman will be punished because of the wrong of another. On Mount Sinai, Moses pled for the children of Israel, “Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin—and if not, blot me…out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” God directly replied, “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” Exodus 32:32, 33.

Putting it another way, the prophet Ezekiel says, “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Ezekiel 18:20. So absolutely just is God’s righteousness that the angels have the privilege of being present to see His justice. “Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand [angels] stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:10; see also Revelation 5:11.

REDEEMED JUDGES

God’s just records will be open for review to both the loyal angels and the redeemed saints. Paul wrote, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” 1 Corinthians 6:2. “Know ye not that we shall judge [fallen] angels?” Verse 3; see also Psalm 149:9. John saw “thrones, and they [the saints] sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.” Revelation 20:4.

As God’s records are reviewed, His righteousness will be seen. God has not made any mistakes. All who have come to Him through the merits of Jesus Christ will be saved. All who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and who have loved not their lives unto the death, will receive a crown of life. Revelation 12:11; 2:10. There is no need for any Christian to be afraid of God’s judgment. He is indeed the righteous Judge, and He is the One who stands up for His people in the judgment. Daniel 12:1; 7:22.

Earthly judges make mistakes, but God’s judgment is perfect. All who place their lives securely in the hands of God, through the death and ministry of Jesus, will be saved in that great day when He comes. What an assurance it is to serve a righteous Judge!


REFERENCES

10. “Vindication at Last for a Woman Scorned by Australia’s News Outlets,” The New York Times, November 14, 2014.

11. “After 16 Years of Waiting, an Apology at Last for the Guildford Four,” The Guardian, February 9, 2005.

Taken from Last Generation, Vol. 25 No. 3. Last Generation is a vibrant 32-page soul-winning magazine published six times a year. To subscribe, call (540) 672-1996, Ext. 283.

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