With Justice for All

With Justice for All

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During the golden age under David and Solomon, Israel’s efforts to promote fairness and justice for its citizens rivaled modern efforts toward these noble ideals. Both kings were known for administering justice to their people (2 Samuel 8:15 2 Samuel 8:15And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice to all his people.
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; 1 Chronicles 18:14 1 Chronicles 18:14So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people.
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; 1 Kings 3:3 1 Kings 3:3And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
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). As a model nation, Israel attracted international leaders seeking to view its prosperity and culture firsthand. One such dignitary was the queen of Sheba.

As part of His covenant instructions, God had told the Israelites to treat fairly all people residing within the boundaries of their nation.

After testing Solomon with questions, personally reviewing his building projects and noting the Israelite culture, the famous queen said to Solomon: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard.

“Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the LORD has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness” (1 Kings 10:6-9 1 Kings 10:6-9 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in my own land of your acts and of your wisdom. 7 However, I believed not the words, until I came, and my eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: your wisdom and prosperity exceeds the fame which I heard. 8 Happy are your men, happy are these your servants, which stand continually before you, and that hear your wisdom. 9 Blessed be the LORD your God, which delighted in you, to set you on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he you king, to do judgment and justice.
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; compare with 2 Chronicles 9:1-8 2 Chronicles 9:1-8 1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bore spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. 2 And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not. 3 And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, 4 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. 5 And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in my own land of your acts, and of your wisdom: 6 However, I believed not their words, until I came, and my eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me: for you exceed the fame that I heard. 7 Happy are your men, and happy are these your servants, which stand continually before you, and hear your wisdom. 8 Blessed be the LORD your God, which delighted in you to set you on his throne, to be king for the LORD your God: because your God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he you king over them, to do judgment and justice.
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).

Happiness and peace flourish in an atmosphere of justice and fairness for all regardless of their race or background. As part of His covenant instructions, God had told the Israelites to treat fairly all people residing within the boundaries of their nation. He specifically said, “One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you” (Exodus 12:49 Exodus 12:49One law shall be to him that is home born, and to the stranger that sojournes among you.
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). Expounding on this principle, God added, “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21 Exodus 22:21You shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
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).

Strangers were to have the same rights as natives. Judges and rulers were to apply laws evenhandedly. The opportunity to worship God on His Holy Days was to be available to strangers if they so desired (Exodus 12:48 Exodus 12:48And when a stranger shall sojourn with you, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
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; Leviticus 16:29 Leviticus 16:29And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojournes among you:
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). When Israel rested on the seventh-day Sabbath, strangers in the land were to be allowed to rest as well (Exodus 20:10 Exodus 20:10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
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).

Just like native Israelites, strangers were welcome to offer sacrifices to God (Numbers 15:14 Numbers 15:14And if a stranger sojourn with you, or whoever be among you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet smell to the LORD; as you do, so he shall do.
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). Health laws applied equally to natives and strangers (Leviticus 17:15 Leviticus 17:15And every soul that eats that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.
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), and God instructed the Israelites to assist the poor and the stranger among them (Leviticus 19:10 Leviticus 19:10And you shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
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; Leviticus 23:22 Leviticus 23:22And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance of the corners of your field when you reap, neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest: you shall leave them to the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.
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; Leviticus 25:35 Leviticus 25:35And if your brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with you; then you shall relieve him: yes, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with you.
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). In short, God told Israel to love strangers and treat them as though they were native born (Leviticus 19:34 Leviticus 19:34But the stranger that dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
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).

God intended that the right to and privilege of worshipping Him and living in His model nation be available to all. “Justice for all” was God’s obvious expectation.

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