It might surprise you to know that failing to testify when you know pertinent facts about a case is a sin in God’s book.
In the book of Leviticus, more specifically, one of the five books of Moses, in what for Christians is the Old Testament, we see this clearly. Not speaking up when you either are a direct witness in relation to an alleged crime, or else have heard from a direct witness – this is iniquitous, according to the Lord.
But don’t take my word for it. Read for yourself.
“If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity;
Or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these;
When he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed, he shall bring to Yahweh as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.”Leviticus 5:1,5-6
Also a sin is making a hasty vow. Yet a hasty vow isn’t followed by the phrase “he shall bear his iniquity” in the way neglecting to speak up is, at least in response to an urgent appeal for true testimony.
We have a saying. “Man of his word” describes a man who follows through with his commitments, regardless the obstacles or challenges. Perhaps our view of the fullness of what good in a man’s character this could signify is truncated. To have a more complete picture, we should admit that sometimes commitments are made, to do either good or evil things, which would be better given up on.
Take Jephthah in the book of Judges, for instance. The greater sin for him was following through with his vow, and the lesser sin would have been to admit his guilt and seek priestly atonement for it. But what did he do? He offered up his own daughter as a sacrifice to Yahweh, in direct disobedience to God having strictly forbidden such a thing, since that practice was how the nations driven out of Canaan had worshiped their gods. Apparently Jephthah took his own pledge more seriously than he did the word of the Lord. This is his now his tragic legacy.
But we should never praise Jephthah for having been a “man of his word” for what Judges 11 tells us he did.
On the other hand, imagine with me the hypothetical of what it would mean if we were to think more holistically about what that phrase means. What if we included that a man’s testimony in important cases where accusations and allegations of wrongdoing have been leveled, and his testifying has the power to either convict the guilty or exonerate the innocent.
I think this is the point of recognizing which men are trustworthy. Otherwise, their being known for following through with what they say they will do, and meaning it, can just as easily be attributed to selfish ambition and vain conceit, which the Christian is expressly warned to do nothing from.
We might liken it to the gym rats who spend all week getting swole, but decline to apply their strength to protecting the innocent, or providing for the widow and the orphan. To hell with all that showing off, if it’s just for show.
The true test of strength brings the whole person to bear, and only all the more rather than less when something wicked this way comes.
“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”Proverbs 24:10
Too many of us reckon ourselves prudent to keep silent when we should speak up. We don’t regard as sin that passivity which sees the innocent convicted, or the guilty unpunished. Certainly, this may be due in part to cultural pressures which we fail to recognize. But it may just as easily be due to personal weakness of character, and an overdeveloped sense of self-preservation where our fellow man is concerned.
Too many of us are cowards, though, and care more about saving our own necks than we do speaking up for those in our midst who are being led away to the slaughter, as happens both when the innocent are convicted rather than cleared, and also when the guilty are allowed to intimidate in courts of law and public opinion the very ones they will resume sinning against at the next opportunity.
Yet this is the verse that follows the one chiding us for weakness above.
“Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.”Proverbs 24:11
And the verse following that one assures us that God knows better when we make excuses that we didn’t know what would happen. Moreover, to answer the rhetorical question in this passage, He will repay a man according to his deeds.
That surely does mean that we bear guilt if criminals go free when we could have ensured they were held accountable, and if those who are falsely accused are punished despite their innocence when we could have cleared them.
On the other hand, it must mean also that God will bless the man of his word who refuses to miscarry justice when it is in his power to do justice, as God requires of him. For one thing, this is how the saint comes to be known as a man of His Word.
This Episode’s Links:
- Judges 11
- This video of demons crucifying a lady and talking about being “baddies with fatties” isn’t from the Grammys… – John Knox, NTB
- Chiraq’s new commie mayor says he doesn’t like giving kids homework or failing grades – Jesse James, NTB
- Dead White Guys: Classical Education Meets Critical Theory – Scholé Sisters
- We Left Russia – Victoria Terekhina, YouTube
- Leviticus 19:33-35
- Largest Countries in the World (by area) – Worldometer
- US Halts Nuclear Arsenal Information Exchange With Russia – Caden Pearson, The Epoch Times
- Macron Says Europe Must Not Become ‘America’s Followers’ In Confrontation With China – Tim Pearce, DW
- Isaiah 3
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