Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bloodguiltiness: Dt 19:11-13

"But if there is a man who hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and rises up against him and strikes him so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. You shall not pity him, but you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, that it may go well with you." (Deuteronomy 19:11-13)
God takes seriously bloodguiltiness. God holds accountable the land upon which innocent blood is shed. The shedding of innocent blood pollutes the land and it is a defilement and a stain that cannot, and must not, be ignored. When bloodguiltiness is not dealt with, it brings down the judgment of God, not just upon the one who shed the blood, but also upon the land that did nothing to expiate its bloodguiltiness.
"If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death. You shall not take ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to live in the land before the death of the priest. So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it." (Numbers 35:30-33)

"The Lord sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Arameans, bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites. So He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken through His servants the prophets. Surely at the command of the Lord it came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood which he shed, for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the Lord would not forgive." (2 Kings 24:2-4)
When innocent blood is shed, it is the role of the government to execute justice and avenge the innocence of the blood that was shed. For nations that refuse to cleanse their land of innocent blood, the judgment of God is inevitable. The only remedy for innocent blood is the blood of the guilty.
"Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man." (Genesis 9:3-6)
God's word is very clear, life for life, blood for blood. The biblical penalty for murder is death. In capital punishment, justice is secured and the bloodguiltiness of the land is appeased. For some, this sentence of death may seem severely harsh, but God warns us to "not pity" the murderer. While the sentence of death is not something to be handed down lightly, for those who shed innocent blood, there is no other option before God. Justice demands it as does the innocent blood that has been poured out upon the land.

David Robison

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  1. Do you have a favorite bible version?

  2. I generally use the New American Standard. I like its crispness and literalness.