Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | March 16, 2023

“the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”

Today’s devotion comes from Leviticus 24:17-23.

“‘If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death.  The one who takes the life of an animal shall make it good, life for life.  If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him:  fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth;  just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.  Thus the one who kills an animal shall make it good, but the one who kills a man shall be put to death.  There shall be one standard for you;  it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the LORD your God.’”  Then Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, and they brought the one who had cursed outside the camp and stoned him with stones.  Thus the sons of Israel did, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.”  Leviticus 24:17-23.


The LORD loves justice.  Today’s Scripture teaches us one of the pillars of justice.  Punishment of a crime should be proportionate to the severity of the crime.  That is what is meant by the phrase too often wrongly cited by those who want to take vengeance:  “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”.

We are not naturally inclined to do justice.  If someone “only” injures us, deep in our heart, we may want to kill them.  Even if someone “only” kills our pet, deep in our heart, we may want to kill them.  But, even if these crimes happen to the rich and powerful, the Courts of law must exercise justice and not allow the criminal to be killed.  Justice requires that the punishment of a crime be proportionate to the severity of the crime.    

“The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice;
Let the many islands be glad.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” Psalm 97:1-2.

“He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.” Psalm 33:5.

Moreover, when Jesus quoted today’s Scripture, he did by no means dismiss proportionate punishment, but he made room for an individual to show mercy and lovingkindness.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person;  but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”  Matthew 5:38-39.

But, by no means did Jesus neglect justice, Jesus later affirmed the importance of justice when he said:  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law:  justice and mercy and faithfulness;  but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”  Matthew 23:23. 

“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth;  for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24.

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.


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