And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.
The point of good law combined with a fair judicial system that truly punishes crime is the creation of a civil society. When the punishment fits the crime after fair examination to all involved and justice is met, the net result on a society should be moral commitment. Other people should respond with satisfaction that justice was served. And the real punishment should help deter future actions of the same kind.
It is debated that just sentences are actually a deterrent, and the high end of the debate centers around the death penalty. But it seems to me that right here in this scripture we have wisdom from God confirming that just sentences on carefully tried and convicted criminals serve as an instructive deterrent to the rest of society. I believe God teaches this principle so that we can have His heart on sin and punishment.
We must remember the issue is not the practice of rash or arbitrary harshness. No one could be convicted on circumstantial hearsay. Two or three witnesses were required by God's instructions (Deuteronomy 19:15-17) and false witnesses were fated to suffer the intended punishment of the one falsely accused. To lie about a murder put the liar in jeopardy of the death penalty. So there were built in prescriptive principles to prevent abuse. The result of such careful legal consideration was fear of God and fear of punishment. Both of them were a positive result. That is a good thing for all of us.
- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.