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Exodus 20:13. You shall not murder


There are three sins which the Bible describes as crying out for vengeance. The first is the sin of the oppression by the powerful over the poor, the weak and the needy. Psalm 12:5 talks about the groaning or the crying out of the needy. “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan. I will now rise” says the Lord, “I will place him in the safety for which he longs”


The next sin is that of immorality. In Genesis 18:20 God is described as saying that He has come down to judge Sodom and Gomorrah because of the cry that has come out of that city.


The third sin is that of violence. In Genesis 4:10 God says to Cain: ’The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.’ The shedding of a man’s blood or the crime of violence is abhorrent to God. He places such a value upon human life that He ordered, under the Old Testament dispensation, that even if an animal killed a man, the animal was to be killed (Exodus 21:28). The sin of murder or violence is a sin that is peculiar to the devil. All sin, of course, has its roots in the evil one, but the Lord Jesus Christ placed this sin particularly at the foot of the devil.


This is a sin which, according to the Bible, carries a special curse. In Deuteronomy 27:24 we read these words: ‘Cursed is the man who attacks his neighbour secretly.’ The man who lifts his had in violence is a man who has the curse of God upon him. Our age, of course, is particularly marked by violence. This is due partly to the modern technology that has been developed in the form of weapons of war which can kill hundreds of thousands at one go. Our television screens offer pictures of piles of dead bodies and wounded and maimed people. Our entertainment media glamorizes violence and when this happens, it is trivialised. We build roads that encourage speed and vehicles which are becoming faster and thus more dangerous. Couple this with the irresponsibility of those who indulge in alcohol and drugs and the result is that thousands of people are killed on our roads every year. Does God have anything to say about these things? The answers is ‘Yes’. His word is ‘You shall not murder’. But note that the Hebrew word ‘Rasah’ refers specifically to a certain form of killing. It is used 46 times in the Old Testament and embraces the connotation of malice, hatred and vengeance. It is not referring to killing in a general sense but killing that arises out of malice. It refers to murder. The Bible draws a distinction between murder with malice and unintentional killing. That distinction is described in Numbers 35 where certain cities are set aside where people who have taken part in an unintentional killing may flee for refuge so that their case may be heard and they may be acquitted or punished accordingly.


But if we behave irresponsibly and deliberately break the law or place ourselves in a position where we are a threat to other people, even if we did not set out to kill them, if they die because of our reckless actions, we are culpable.


We must pray for a greater sense of responsibility in our society.



O God. Have mercy on us all. We see mayhem all around the world and in our own country. Please send a spirit of restraint to our land. Amen