Reading

  • Deut. 5:17
  • Ex. 21:12-14
  • Num. 35:20-21, 16-19, 29-31, 33-34
  • Ex. 22:2-3a
  • Num. 35:22-25
  • Deut. 19:4-6
  • Num. 35:9-15
  • Deut. 19:1-3, 7-10
  • Num. 35:26-28
  • Deut. 19:11-13
  • Num. 35:32
  • Ex. 21:22-25, 16
  • Deut. 24:7
  • Lev. 24:19-20
  • Ex. 21:26-27
  • Deut. 22:25-29
  • Ex. 21:15, 18-21
  • Deut. 25:11-12; 5:19
  • Ex. 22:3b, 1, 4
  • Deut. 19:14

Devotional

GOD told the Israelites how they should respond in situations where one Israelite kills another. GOD outlined a number of different scenarios and how each should be handled. Often, the difference between punishments for bloodshed came down to one thing: the attitude of the person committing the act. GOD said:

And this is the case of the manslayer who flees there, that he may live: Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him in time past—as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live; lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past. Therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall separate three cities for yourself.’
(Deut. 19:4-7 NKJV)

But for the one who hates his brother and kills him, GOD said:

But if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, then the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there, and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with you.
(Deut. 19:11-13 NKJV)

In a sense both people committed the same crime—they both took the life of an innocent person. But because they had very different attitudes their crime was, in reality, very different. One killed by accident, the other out of hatred. The New Testament speaks to this concept of our attitude toward our brother, going even beyond what we doto our brother but rather what we think toward him.

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
(1 John 3:10-15 NKJV)

Be careful what you think! Love your brother. Attitude matters to GOD, and it matters to other people too!

Tim Harris
Author: Tim Harris

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