November 23, 2012

Scripture and Commentary, Saturday after the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity

Morning - Ps. 79, Lev. 26:27-42, Phil. 4
Evening - Ps. 65, Dt. 19, Mt. 28:11

Commentary, Deuteronomy 19

The Law of God prohibits murder, but what happens when someone accidentally "killeth his neighbor?"  Such a person may flee to a city of refuge.  There he may remain until the facts surrounding the cause of death are discovered.  This will prevent both personal revenge (19:6), and unjustified official execution, which is really only murder committed by people holding official power (19:10).  If it is justly determined that murder has occurred, the murderer will be taken from the city of refuge and executed (19:11-12). It is important to see that God requires justice.  Justice requires an impartial investigation into the facts, and a conclusion based on the facts.  Thus, judgment is not to be based upon the capricious views of kings or public opinion.  It is based only upon truth and the rule of just law.  Here is the foundation of the self evident truth that "all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights" and that "to secure these rights governments are instituted among men." Just laws that obligate the governors and the governed are vitally important to free societies. It is interesting that this passage follows the laws regarding kings in Dt. 17.

Removing landmarks (19:14) is a means of theft by claiming one's property boundary extends into what is really an other's land.  This makes fraud and misrepresentation as much an act of theft as breaking into an other's home and stealing his money.

Again we see the foundation for a just hearing and rule of law when verses 15-16 delineate the means of trying cases.  An accusation is not enough to condemn a person.  Two witnesses are required, and they must be investigated to determine whether they are truthful or are conspiring to use the law for immoral purposes.  If the accusers or witnesses are found false, they are to suffer the fate they attempted to exact upon the accused.  Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." 

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