Isaiah, chapters 58-62

“[…] Truth has stumbled in the public square,
And what is upright is unable to enter.
Truth has vanished,
And anyone who turns away from bad is plundered.
Jehovah saw this and was displeased,
For there was no justice.”
~Isaiah 59:14b,15

God expects those in positions of authority to do what is just.
He is not a distant, apathetic God, but is watching the earth closely, ready to intervene when it becomes apparent that no one else will (Is. 59:16,17)
God’s justice will leave no stone unturned. (Is. 59:18)
He hears the plight of those who are alone and suffering. (Is. 59:11)
He promises to bless them with eternal life in an earth rid of evil. (Ps. 37:9-11,29; Is. 60:18,20,21)
This was Christ’s primary message and the message Jehovah’s Witnesses likewise share with the public. (Is. 61:1,2)

Deuteronomy, chapters 19-22

“If someone is found slain in a field of the land that Jehovah your God is giving you to possess and it is not known who killed him, […] the elders of that city should lead the young cow down to a valley running with water where no tilling or sowing of seed has been done, and they should break the neck of the young cow there in the valley.”

~Deuteronomy 21:1, 4

To be honest, this passage shook my faith.

Why did the young cow have to suffer punishment if it had nothing to do with the murder?

Under the law, if the community did nothing about the murder, the elders of that community could be held accountable by God as having blood on their hands (De. 21:8; De. 22:8).

The ceremony with the heifer provided a concrete way of demonstrating to everyone in the surrounding areas that the murder had been officially investigated and remained unsolved.

The passage explains:

“Then all the elders of the city who are nearest to the dead body should wash their hands over the young cow whose neck was broken in the valley, and they should declare, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it shed. “‘Do not hold this against your people Israel, whom you redeemed, O Jehovah, and do not let guilt for innocent blood remain among your people Israel.'”Then the bloodguilt will not be held against them.”In this way you will remove the guilt of innocent blood from your midst by doing what is right in Jehovah’s eyes.”(De. 21:6-9)

If the murderer was later identified, he (or she) would still have to die on account of his (or her) actions (Nu. 35:30-33).

After discussing this bygone law with a brother in my congregation, he reminded me that sacrifices under Mosaic Law foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice: that of Christ (Heb. 10:5-10).

And like the innocent heifer whose life was taken as a result of human-spun injustice, so was Christ’s life taken as a result of humanity’s wrongdoings (Heb. 9:12-14).

The principle involved in this law is that human life is precious and its loss needs to be atoned.

We see the modern-day application of this principle when a congregation forms a committee to investigate the cause of death that was a result of one of its member’s actions.

For example, if the death was a result of a traffic accident, was the congregation member speeding? Was he (or she) distracted?

In such a case, the body of elders holds a judicial case in which they may decide to limit the member’s privilege to participate in certain activities (Matt. 18:15, 16; Gal. 6:7; 1 Pet. 3:16; 5:3).

Leviticus, chapters 25-27

Furthermore, no condemned person who is set apart for destruction may be redeemed. He should be put to death without fail.
~Leviticus 27:29

When a person devoted to doing God’s will decides to deliberately disobey his concrete instructions, that person is committing spiritual suicide.

In ancient Israel, certain crimes carried the death penalty.

These crimes included: apostasy, idolatry, adultery, eating blood, and murder (De 13:12-18; Le 20:10; 17:14; Nu 35:31).

The law required for at least two witnesses to testify against the defendants and these same two witnesses had to be the ones to initiate the stoning process (De. 17:7).

Later, in first century Roman-ruled Judea, Jews were not at liberty to execute the criminals they convicted.

Instead, they had the practice of expelling someone, that is, shunning them from their community (John 9:22; 12:42).

Jesus passed this practice along to his disciples when he told them: ‘If your brother commits a sin and does not listen to the congregation, he should be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector,’ (Matt. 18:15-17).

Jews did not commingle with other races or tax collectors for they considered them unclean.

Three years after Jesus’ death, Christians went out to preach to all the nations, but the shunning-rule remained the same in regards to a person who did not repent of their serious sins (Acts 10:28; 1 Co. 5:11,13).

When someone very close to us turns their back on God, it is like a constant sting in our heart.

One wishes we could trade faiths with them, somehow warranting their salvation in exchange for our own.

This is impossible, for Psalm 49, verses 7 and 8 read:

None of them can ever redeem a brother
Or give to God a ransom for him,
(The ransom price for their life is so precious
That it is always beyond their reach)[…]”

The decision whether or not to serve God is strictly between the person, God and the ransom price he provided, Christ (1 Tim. 2:5,6; Rom. 5:8).

The only thing we can do for these loved ones is to set an example of integrity so that they may be moved to repent and come back to the congregation (2 Cor. 2:6-8).