The Kindness of the Law
The law of God not only directs us in our pursuit of holiness, but it also guides us to treat our neighbors with kindness and love. From his teaching series Discovering Deuteronomy, W. Robert Godfrey considers one way that this kindness is conveyed.
In verse 15 of chapter 19, “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear and shall never again commit any such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” Well now that’s interesting, isn’t it? Because that kind of verse, that last one, verse 21, “eye for eye,” that’s a sign of how severe the Old Testament was, how legal the Old Testament was. Well, that’s true up to a point. But do you notice this is also about loving the neighbor? What are the terrible things you could do to a neighbor? Well, one of the worst things you could do to a neighbor is lie about him, lie about him in a court, lie about him in a court proceeding that may well lead to very serious punishment. And this provision is, if you lie about somebody in court, then the punishment you tried to have visited on someone else is going to be visited on you. That’s justice. But there’s also a kind of kindness to that, because this severity ought to lead people to stop being false witnesses, and that’s kind to everybody if the reality of false witnesses comes to an end.