As God laid out the plans for Israel upon which His Law would be enforced, we see God’s balance between mercy and judgment. Moses was to tell the nation to establish cities of refuge where innocent people presumed guilty of a crime could flee and remain safe until their case was heard. God was also very clear that where people were found guilty of a crime, they would receive just punishment for that crime. Notice God’s perspective regarding justice:
1. Mercy for the innocent.
Deut. 19:9-10 “If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three: That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.”
2. Punishment for the guilty.
V11-13 “But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.”
3. The results of justice.
V20-21 “And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
LESSON - We find within this passage several principles implemented into the foundations of America’s system of justice. Unfortunately, too many of them have gone by the wayside.
1. Law based upon Gods word, not man’s opinion.
2. A thorough investigation of facts from multiple witnesses under threat of severe punishment for lying (see v18-19).
3. Truth in sentencing for those found guilty of crimes.
4. Punishment severe enough to create fear among those who would commit similar crimes.
Sadly, these principles only have mild similarities to our current judicial structure. It’s no wonder we see versions of the 10 Commandments disappearing from society. This should greatly impact how we view those running for office and also affect how we pray for our leaders. Pray that our nation might once again become a nation which “shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways”.