Procedural crime dramas like CSI may represent some of the most flagrant disregard for God's Law on display in our culture.  I'm not just referring to the fact that many of the episodes feature hookers or strip clubs; I'm referring to the ways that the forensic scientists go about identifying and prosecuting their suspects.  This is rarely if ever done on the basis of two or three witnesses as the Biblical Law demands, but is rather almost always accomplished by means of scientific study of the materials left at the crime scene. Now, we know from the Bible that God takes the issue of murder very seriously.  In Numbers chapter 35 we are given what is undoubtedly the most thorough and just system of dealing with the violent death of human beings that has ever been conceived.  And in that chapter, God makes plain the vital importance of solving a murder: "You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it" (Numbers 35:33).  But how are these murders to be solved?  Verse 30 of the same chapter gives the answer: "If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses.  But no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness."

God's Law gives one and only one way to solve a murder: the evidence of witnesses; and there must be more than one.  It is significant that God does not include forensic evidence in His Law as permissible to convict a murderer.  Certainly such evidence existed in those days.  The Old Covenant Israelites were not complete simpletons that were unable to match a bloody hand to a bloody knife.  God just decided that He would not allow that kind of "testimony".  His reasons are certainly His own, but we know enough about how it is possible to "frame" innocent people for crimes using staged forensic evidence to give us some sort of explanation for not permitting this evidence at all.

In fact, one of the most telling stories involving a known murderer in the Bible also includes unmistakable forensic testimony, and yet he is not allowed to be put to death.  The story I am referring to is the very first murder ever: that of Abel by Cain.  There in Genesis chapter 4 we have again the polluting effects of the blood in the ground as God declares that the blood cries out to Him.  In addition, God places a mark on Cain that absolutely declares his guilt in the killing, and yet the mark also keeps Cain from being attacked and killed himself.

What is going on in that story?  Why doesn't God allow someone else to put Cain to death for his crime?  Did He change His mind between Genesis 4 and Numbers 35?  Absolutely not!  In fact, it is precisely because He has not changed His mind between those two occasions that He does not let anyone else put Cain to death for the murder of his brother.  There were no witnesses!  God is totally upholding every single detail of the Law of Numbers 35 that will be revealed in the future way back here in His encounter with Cain in Genesis 4.  We have reference to both the pollution of the ground with the blood and the implied necessity of capital punishment being carried out on the basis of witnesses.  God doesn't change His mind (Number 23:19) and His Law will never pass away until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-20).

Some might object: "But if we structured our laws like this, then some murderers might get away scott-free!"  This is where God expects us to trust Him to properly avenge (Deuteronomy 32:35).  God eventually drowned all of Cain's entire family tree in the flood.  He will not permit the wicked to evade just recompense for their evil deeds.  His Law, however, does prevent similarly wicked people from staging evidence to condemn the righteous.  His ways are perfect.  Our thinking is subject to our fallen nature.  So I think I'll just let Him decide how these things ought to be.  Just a warning to any future fellow jurors of any trial that I sit in on: if there is not testimony of two or more witnesses, I'm not voting "guilty".