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Chapter 19:14-21 (ESV)

Posted on March 19, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 19:14-21 (ESV) - “You shall not move your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.

“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.

Question to consider: What was the consequence for giving false witness against someone at a trial?

When discerning a worldview, it is important that it starts with a correct definition of reality. Many of the modern philosophies that dictate the world’s social norms begin with the premise that people are basically good and will choose a course of action that benefits the greater good of humanity if given the opportunity. The pillars of modern academia believe that if we can balance the scales of justice and make all things equal through a benevolent ruling class, we can imagine a world with no conflict. They believe the root cause of all conflict is the manipulation of people through various religions and the oppression perpetrated by those who use their power to retain their privileged status and lifestyle.

However, Moses understood how sin entered into the world and the effect it has had on the hearts of every man, woman, and child. He received the Law directly from God on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people who were too afraid to approach the mountain. He did not go off into a cave somewhere and receive a vision of an angel and expect everyone to believe his experience. He did not write down the ideas of his own mind and call them a message from God. Moses met with the LORD on Mount Sinai in the same way he met with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration which was witnessed by Peter, James, and John.

Even though Moses was not to enter the land, he graciously shared the Law with the new generation who would receive the land by faith, knowing that even though they agreed to follow the Law, they would fall short of it because their hearts were corrupted by sin. A sinful heart would try to expand his own territory by moving the boundaries set by God. A sinful heart would bear false witness against his neighbor in a court of law.

So God used Moses to provide checks and balances to maintain equity and justice. Land inheritance was marked with boundary stones that were not to be moved under any circumstances. People could not be convicted based on the testimony of one witness. Two would be the minimum and three would be ideal in securing a conviction. Even then, there was an understanding that if the two or three witnesses colluded to condemn an innocent person, the judgment which was decreed for the criminal would be brought upon the false witnesses. This required that the judges diligently investigate all of the claims so that there would be no reasonable doubt to the guilt of the defendant.

Of course, in order to keep judges from becoming corrupt, the ruling council of judges would be composed of the seventy wisest individuals of a town with the idea that it was a large enough group to keep each other honest. As I frequently mention, justice is served with two measures: judgment and mercy. The judges were to honor God by purging evil from the land and looking for ways to show mercy and help people reconcile with God and one another.


Dear heavenly Father, we thank You for showing us mercy and kindness despite the fact that we have hearts which are set against You and Your ways. Please continue to renew us each morning with Your mercies and give us a clean heart that desires to walk with You. Amen.