Friday, September 22 2023 - 12:39 AM

Sharing Scripture — December 24, 2022

The Judging Process


For use: December 18 – 24, 2022
Texts: Matthew 25:31-46; Daniel 7:9-14; 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3; 2 Peter 2:4-6; Malachi 4:1; Revelation 21:8


The decision to release Oregon’s “Jogger rapist” Richard Gillmore from prison on December 16 has several of his victims and their families crying foul over the perceived injustice. Though he admitted raping nine girls and women in the 1970s and 80s, he was only convicted in one case due to the passing of the stature of limitations on the other crimes.

He was recently reclassified as a Level 1 sex offender, considered the lowest risk of reoffending. His victims argue otherwise. “He was designated as a dangerous offender at trial,” says one of his victims. “I don’t understand how that puts him at a Level 1 sex offender.” The lower classification played a role in his early release, and it means the state isn’t required to notify surrounding residents that he’s living near them.

The state conducted the last psychological evaluation of Gillmore in 2016. The parole board at that time declared him still a danger to the public. They determined that he has a mental or emotional disorder that provokes him to offend. This low-level classification is based on the Static 99 risk assessment tool the state uses to calculate the recidivism rate for sex crimes prisoners, and on his age of 63 at his release date.

Another victim who now lives out of state said Gillmore’s release “has increased my anxiety the past few days, and I am fearful for … all women and young girls there. I am thankful to be out of Oregon.”

Human judgment, even passed down by the wisest of administrators following the most well-intentioned laws, is always flawed because it is rendered by, well, humans. We don’t know the future and cannot determine whether or not a person will offend. Even the best reporting can’t tell us the whole story behind decisions we consider unjust. There is only One who knows the end from the beginning and the hearts of humans, and God doesn’t always reveal that knowledge to us.

God’s judgment, however, is perfect because it is based on the premise that God is love (1 John 4:8), and that God has perfect knowledge (Job 37:16). God loves both the offended and the offender. And God’s judiciary process is open for all to see and be satisfied that God is just.

There are three phases to God’s judgment: the Investigative (or pre-Advent) Judgment, the Determinative Judgment, when sentences are pronounced (see Revelation 22:11), and the Executive Judgment, when rewards and punishments are finally delivered (Revelation 22:12). We will spend 1,000 years between the Investigative and Executive Judgments pouring over the records of God’s interactions with humanity and determine for ourselves that God acts justly. There is no injustice in God’s courtroom.


For Reflection


Connecting: What do you do with incidents of injustice in your life? Do you stand up and fight? Or do you tend to just move on and let it go?

Sharing: How do you interpret the statement in Daniel 7:22 that “The Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints”?

  1. God’s court is rigged in my favor
  2. Of course God is going to pronounce judgment in my favor—I’m a pretty good person
  3. God is doing everything possible to get us all into heaven
  4. That’s great for the “saints”, but what about me?
  5. I’m worried that God will determine that someone I don’t like is a “saint” and I’ll have to live next to them in heaven
  6. Other:

Applying: Sometimes we hear of cases of injustice and come to conclusions based on incomplete information (even though we may know better). Next time you see such a story that causes your blood pressure to rise, take a step back and do more research to try and understand all sides of the issue.

Valuing: Does it distress you to know that your life is currently being evaluated in a pre-Advent judgment? If so, prayerfully review 1 John 2:1 and 1 John 5:13 and claim their promise that you can be assured of your salvation today.


~Chuck Burkeen


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