Numbers 35:30 More Than One Witness
Posted by adventbiblestudy on March 20, 2013
Numbers 35:30-31 NLTse “All murderers must be put to death, but only if evidence is presented by more than one witness. No one may be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. (31) Also, you must never accept a ransom payment for the life of someone judged guilty of murder and subject to execution; murderers must always be put to death.
If we look at this text alone we only get a portion of the message God gave. With a little bit of research we find this message repeated three times in the books Moses was inspired to write. Each time he wrote, Moses added more details. This first text deal with murders, which is repeated three times. The main theme points out the requirement of more than one witness to condemn a murderer to death. This was to ensure an innocent person was never convicted and condemned.
As we look at additional texts, we find the law of more than one witness applies to more than only murder, but other broken, ignored, and alterd commandments.
Deuteronomy 17:1-7 NLTse (1) “Never sacrifice sick or defective cattle, sheep, or goats to the LORD your God, for he detests such gifts. (2) “When you begin living in the towns the LORD yourGod is giving you, a man or woman among you might do evil in the sight of the LORD your God and violate the covenant. (3) For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars–the forces of heaven–which I have strictly forbidden. (4) When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, (5) then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. (6) But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. (7) The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you.
In Deuteronomy 17:1-7 God told Moses how to deal with people offering inadequate sacrifices which is nothing more than cheating God, and a major display of selfishness. People forgot the lesson of unconditional love God taught Adam before bringing him Eve. God spent some time with Adam alone. During that time Adam named every animal. That was God’s way of informing us, He showed Adam everything before giving control over to him. This clearly was a lesson of unconditional love. God gave everything He made to Adam expecting nothing in return, except to stay away from one tree in the garden. After sin, God asked for a sacrifice to remind mankind of the cost sin demands. The sacrifice also showed our reliance and faith in God’s ability to deliver us from sin. In a manner of speaking, it showed a measure of faith and how much we remember God’s unconditional love. Since God gave His best, shouldn’t we return the same? Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. (Proverbs 3:9 NLTse).
When people began cheating on sacrifices it showed how lightly they looked at sin, as if it was a part of the world, something to be expected. It showed how much people forgot the Creator. Cheating on sacrifices leads from one thing to another. First the quality, then the sacrifice all together. Once the memory of sin’s cost is gone, all restraint is eliminated, sin wins out throwing the world into chaos with no hope of a better life.
Serving other gods is another sin mentioned in Deuteronomy 17:1-7 which requires the death penalty. Serving another god has the same effect on human nature as offering less a than adequate sacrifice. The worship of other gods allows people to create their own deity in whatever image they prefer. Their god has whatever power they give it and requires whatever sacrifice they deem fit. There is little difference between worshiping false God’s and offering inadequate sacrifices. Both take control away from God, remove the convicting power of the Spirit, and serve the self centered attitudes of this world.
Condemning people who offer inadequate sacrifices, worship false gods, as well as murder require at least two witnesses. This shows sins against God as well as those against mankind must be proved by the minimum of two reliable witnesses. Deuteronomy 19:15-21 adds more details.
Deuteronomy 19:15-21 NLTse (15) “You must not convict anyone of a crime on the testimony of only one witness. The facts of the case must be established by the testimony of two or threewitnesses. (16) “If a malicious witness comes forward and accuses someone of a crime, (17) then both the accuser and accused must appear before the LORD by coming to the priests and judges in office at that time. (18) The judges must investigate the case thoroughly. If the accuser has brought false charges against his fellow Israelite, (19) you must impose on the accuser the sentence he intended for the other person. In this way, you will purge such evil from among you. (20) Then the rest of the people will hear about it and be afraid to do such an evil thing. (21) You must show no pity for the guilty! Your rule should be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
The same guidelines for witnesses apply to every crime. If the testimony of the accuser is false, they are to suffer the same sentence the accused faced. God did this to eliminate any chance of injustice. Both judges and priests were responsible for the integrity of the justice system. A fair and just court system was one of Israel’s guiding lights to the world. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. (Psalms 37:5-6 NLTse).
Israel’s main function was to take God’s Word to the world by being an example. A simple process churches preach today. Each part of the system relied upon, reflected, and influenced the other. The original system was simple, God spoke directly to His people. Once Israel turned down God’s offer to be a royal kingdom of priests, it eliminated the chance of every individual experiencing a personal relationship with God. This initiated plan B in which God introduced the Levitical system of priests with Moses representing the justice system, which was later expanded to lighten the work load on Moses. As time passed, Israel asked for a king which in essence placed another barrier between God and His people. “Do everything they say to you,” the LORD replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. (1 Samuel 8:7 NLTse).
Integrity in Israel continued to slip to a degree no one but God could have seen. Ultimate corruption was evident in Jesus’ trial before the high priest.
Mark 14:55-64 NLTse Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any. (56) Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. (57) Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: (58) “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.'” (59) But even then they didn’t get their stories straight! (60) Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” (61) But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (62) Jesus said, “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (63) Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? (64) You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!”
Not only were the texts in Numbers 35 and Deuteronomy 17 and 19 guidelines for Israels justice system and a light to the world, they were also a prophecy about Jesus. When Jesus was tried the high priest ignored the majority of laws in Numbers 35 and Deuteronomy 17 and 19. In their minds they followed the law by following one point, providing two witnesses, but ignored the spirit of the law, especially the part about dealing with false witnesses. “If a malicious witness comes forward and accuses someone of a crime, then both the accuser and accused must appear before the LORD by coming to the priests and judges in office at that time. The judges must investigate the case thoroughly. If the accuser has brought false charges against his fellow Israelite, you must impose on the accuser the sentence he intended for the other person.” But did they escape justice?
In this lesson we saw how to collect texts on a single subject. The Bible showed us how authors add one detail to another telling the complete story over time. This is an important study rule to follow. Often times Bible students read one text then jump to a conclusion based on personal intuition or beliefs. Spending such little time in God’s Word has the same effect as offering a defective sacrifice and serving other gods, namely yourself. This was in fact the original temptation. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5 NLTse).
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
(Proverbs 3:5-7 NLTse)
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.
(Proverbs 3:9 NLTse)