Deuteronomy 19:14-21 – Concern for Justice

Read Deuteronomy 19:14-21

The Ten Commandments with bibles on a black background

When they say, “Moses gave the law,” it’s true. Here is another fine example of some of the specifics God chose to offer the people. A couple present day examples come to mind. Do you ever notice how the “terms of service” go on and on when you sign up for something? Think of the side effects of a prescription medication or the warnings that come with a new purchase. That’s because the company is covering their tush, or that such things have happened and it’s likely they will happen again. That is especially true with the warning labels on products. Someone has gotten hurt, sued the company, and now the company has to be clear on their packaging to be careful not to be stupid when using the product.

I apologize if I ruffled your feathers here with my bluntness. I suppose after years of being a paralegal I have seen it all. The crazy situations people get themselves into and then want to blame the other person never ceases to amaze me. A good lawyer will look at a situation and assess the negligence in an instant. If a person is wrongfully injured because of the negligence of another, then by all means, justice should be served. Moses is giving more examples of how justice can be served here in the new land.

Moving boundary markers to cheat your neighbor is the first one in today’s reading. It’s sad that he even had to say such a thing, but people will be people. When evil gets a hold of us, our greed or desire for something that is not ours is magnified. It isn’t really greener pasture on the other side of the fence, it just looks that way.

I really like the next one about witnesses. Again, in disputes, it’s all too common to have disagreements when only two people are involved. The perspective is just different from one person to the other. But when you can collaborate a story between two or more witnesses, the truth has a better chance at being revealed. You must take care then in choosing your witnesses or judging their credibility wisely.

Have you ever been a witness in a trial? How about serving on a jury, making sense of testimony and whether it was credible or not? It’s an experience to be sure. I like the image in today’s reading of coming before God with a dispute. God is the ultimate judge. He knows whether we are telling the truth, stretching the truth, or downright lying. We, as humans, don’t have that same supernatural power, but we can call upon God’s wisdom for discernment in those situations.

Our text today also puts a double layer of protection on us when it comes to false testimony. God’s overarching purpose for all of this justice is to keep evil out of the land. If only it was that easy. However, in this case, if someone is found to have brought charges wrongly on purpose, they will suffer the consequence of the punishment for that offense. You would think that that would keep people from taking advantage of each other, slandering each other, or trying to ruin each other with lies.

God was doing what he could to put laws in place to protect his people. It was then up to them to uphold the law, enforce the law, and abide by the law. We can look around us today and see how people have a hard time with that. Sometimes it seems like evil is winning, but we know better. The earth may crumble around us, but God has won the victory. I want to be on the winning team, don’t you?

Let’s pray… Lord, thank you for the laws you put in place to protect the people. Forgive me for times I stretch the truth, try to take a short cut, or simply disobey. I know better. Thank you that your spirit lives inside me to keep me as balanced as possible. When I feel afraid, remind me of your presence. When I feel weak, inject me with your strength. When I feel lost, set my feet on the right path. I long to be in your will and shining bright for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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