March 24, 2023
“If the guilty party deserves to be flogged, the judge will make him lie down and be flogged in his presence with the number of lashes appropriate for his crime.”
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“If the guilty party deserves to be flogged, the judge will make him lie down and be flogged in his presence with the number of lashes appropriate for his crime. He may be flogged 40 lashes, but no more. Otherwise, if he is flogged with more lashes than these, your brother will be degraded in your sight.” Deuteronomy 25:2-3 (HCSB)
In the Christian faith, there are three words that are important to understand when it comes to the relationship between Man’s behavior and God’s standard: Justice, Grace, and Mercy.
Justice is blind execution of the law. It respects no person and is purely an advocate of the law’s standard. When an alleged infraction arises, Justice is executed solely on facts, weighed against the letter of the law. The Bible says of God:
“...He will not leave the guilty unpunished...” Exodus 34:7 (HCSB)
Mercy is when the guilty party does not get what they deserve due to the benevolence of 1) an accuser or 2) a judge. While guilt remains (guilt is an immutable state of being for the lawbreaker), the consequences for guilt are lessened or removed through Mercy. The Bible speaks of God’s great mercy,
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-5a (NKJV)
Grace is getting something you don’t deserve. If I were to walk up to a complete stranger and give them a Ferrari, that would be gracious (to say the least)! They did nothing to acquire such a gift, and the gifting was not contrary to their spiritual condition, per se.
“You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus, He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:5b-7 (HCSB)
Today’s passage in Deuteronomy 25 primarily deals with Justice and Mercy. It shows how a judge can be BOTH Just and Merciful in the same instance. The Judge can carry out the full letter of the law while respecting the dignity of the person being punished.
Let this be a challenge. When seeking justice, remember to be merciful. Through it all, the guilty party remains your “brother or sister.” Perhaps, the greatest gift you’ll ever give yourself is an enemy-turned-grateful friend.
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©Steve Wiggins 2021