Exodus 23:1: “You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.”

August 26th, 2019 by Pastor Ed in devotional

We notice that to be God’s representatives, this ex-slave community needed to be distinct from the surrounding nations. God’s grace and His mighty hand of deliverance had set them free; but to remain free, they couldn’t live like the other nations. They couldn’t live like the pagan Egyptians, under whose rule they’d groaned in slavery and cried out for help. Now that they had been delivered, they had to learn to live together in new ways.

Verse 23 is a reiteration of the 9th commandment: “You shall not bear false witness.” This verse says not to “circulate a false report” or “put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.” A false report may be a groundless report, or something as simple as gossip, but primarily this was a command against both slander and false evidence given in a trial. The Hebrew word for “the wicked” means “the party who’s in the wrong.” An “unrighteous witness” or literally a “witness of violence” is a person who would give false evidence to bring about the acquittal of a guilty person.

There are 2 root truths behind the 9th commandment and this verse: love justice and don’t twist the truth. Don’t pass along false reports. Don’t cooperate with evil people by telling lies on their behalf. We must ask ourselves frequently, “Have I dealt justly with others, loving truth and walking close with God?” If the answer is no, then it is time for us to make things right by repenting before Him.

“LORD, please forgive our sins. Change our hearts and make us like You.”