October 7, 2021
12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.
15 “Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death.
16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.
17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.
It can be difficult to get past the fact that in these few verses we see the phrase “to be put to death” five times. It makes the passage seem harsh and punitive. And there is a punitive nature to the situation. Put to death is an extreme measure in punishment. But understand it for what it is meant to be.
First, this is not that children who act against their parents would be put to death. The “anyone” in this circumstance is an adult who acts against their parent. The rabbis even gave the people a way to basically curse their parents and not sustain their lives with the idea that the money they would have used to care for parents in old age was designated as a gift to God. Yet God would want them to care for their parents.
The point of these commands is not about the punishment, it is about the value of life. It is about honouring and protecting life. While giving life back to someone who kills in the course of an accident of some sort, it pushes hard on the law of not murdering. God created people to live. Taking life breaks the order of creation. God gave us parents who raise us and love us. And in turn we honour them in caring for them when they are in need. The picture here is of the value of life and the way God created us to live together as he created us to be and live.
How are we honouring life in our actions today? Are we ensuring that all have the same opportunity to live? Are we doing all we can to make sure all can live in dignity and that all are cared for in life? God calls us to care for those in need of protection from the beginning of life to the end of life, and all through the middle. Not asking us to determine relative value of lives. Just to give all the ability to have life. Giving all the opportunity to see that life is more than just getting through our days, but being loved by God, being called to be God’s people and by giving life in the world today.
Song – Psalm 27
We praise you, God almighty, for the power you have shown in creating the world. We thank you for your love in redeeming us from sin and in creating us anew in Christ. Grant us strength in this life to honour you, Lord God, both in worship and in witness, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.