The National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) reported that 139 exonerations occurred in the United states in 2017. The average exoneree spent more than 10 years in jail, due to eyewitness misidentification, official misconduct, false confession, or perjury. In 66 of the cases, no crime was committed whatsoever. Read more about it at The Innocence Project website:
The plight of the falsely accused highlights the power of “witness.”
In very plain words, to witness is to see an event take place, while someone who testifies to an event becomes a witness.
The Biblical idea of “witness” highlights the power of words. The 9th command in the Decalogue (10 commands) says, “You shall not bear false witness.” Lying or bending the truth about a situation with someone is the equivalent of waging war on them. Proverbs 25:18 encapsulates this concept well: “Like a war club, a sword, or a sharp arrow is one who bears false witness against a neighbor.” A false witness gives rise to evil, makes a mockery of justice, promotes corruption, and brings judgment on themselves and society.
“A truthful witness…” on the other hand, “…saves lives.” (Proverbs 14:25) In the Bible, God is a faithful witness to both human and divine actions and promises. God is not only cosmic judge, but the ultimate witness. The prophets were “authorized witnesses,” empowered to speak God’s words and perspective to the people. The people said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to everything that the LORD your God sends us through you.”
God continues to be a witness in the New Testament. The faithful witness leads to the exoneration and freedom of the people of God. The Holy Spirit bear[s] witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). Jesus Christ [is], the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead. (Rev 1:5) As creatures made in God’s image and conformed to the image of Christ, we, too, are created to bear witness, just as God bears witness. [John] came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. (John 1:7) The book of Acts defines the work of the church as the work of witness to an “Easter faith.”
“He has not left himself without a witness…”
“You [all] be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard.”
“One of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” (Acts 14:17, 22:15, 1:22)
- How does this help us to worship?
- How does this help me live out my faith better?
- How do I become a ‘witness’?