Reading: Exodus 23:1-9
Here we learn another important principle about God’s justice, namely “You shall not circulate a false report” (vs 1). James 3:6 says the tongue is destructive: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” The ninth commandment requires us to deal with our neighbour with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Disobeying this principle brings injustice and suffering. If a witness in court gives a false or incomplete report an innocent person may be sentenced to jail or death. Witnesses appearing in a court must therefore ensure they know and speak the whole truth. Circulating a false report through malicious gossip can ruin the good reputation of an innocent person; it can also do much damage to the church. A crowd of people driven by false information and lot of passion can do great damage in a city.
The instructions in verses 6 and 7 are especially for judges who must ensure that all people, including the poor, get a fair trial. Judges must ensure witnesses are reliable. Rich and influential people have access to many resources and can have a big advantage in court. The judge must protect those who have little money and influence. The judges must also be morally upright and not take bribes which can pervert justice. Bribery is against God’s character; in Deuteronomy 10:17 God says “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
As a warning the Lord adds: “I will not justify the wicked: (Exodus 23:7).
Key text: Exodus 23:1 “You shall not circulate a false report.”
Question: What is the positive requirement of the ninth commandment?