THE SACRED VALUE OF LIFE (Part 2)
“Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26)
The Avenger of Blood
For God, both voluntary or an involuntary manslayer is a very serious act. In the old Mosaïque Law, there was the law of the avenger of blood. Of course, we are no longer, as Christians, under the authority of this set of laws. Nevertheless, we can learn from God’s way of thinking about the sacred value of human life:
“You should choose cities convenient for yourselves to serve as cities of refuge, where the manslayer who unintentionally kills someone should flee. These cities will serve as a refuge for you from the blood avenger, so that the manslayer will not die until he stands trial before the assembly. The six cities of refuge that you provide will serve this purpose. You will provide three cities on this side of the Jordan and three cities in the land of Caʹnaan to serve as cities of refuge. These six cities will serve as a refuge for the Israelites, for the foreign resident, and for the settler among them, for anyone to flee there who unintentionally kills someone” (Numbers 35:11–15).
Verses 16–29, it is written about the provisions that allowed to accidental manslayer to find protection in these cities of refuge.
Verses 22 to 25, especially, it is written that a court would rule whether he was a willful homicide or not. In the case of accidental manslayer, he was allowed into the city of refuge to protect himself from the blood avenger until the death of the high priest. Even if this disposition was merciful, it was a very serious obligation because it was so to speak, this man was under house arrest (city of refuge), maybe even until the end of his life, because he had to wait for the death of the high priest. In the case of a murderer, the blood avenger, the closest relative of the victim, could put him to death without incurring a bloodguilt before God (verse 19–21).
We are no longer, as Christians, under this legal procedure because Christ is the end of the law (Romans 10:4). However, these legal provisions allow us to better understand God’s thinking about the sacred value of human life and blood (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Christian is no longer allowed to take revenge, especially by using violence: “Return evil for evil to no one. Take into consideration what is fine from the viewpoint of all men. If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: “‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says Jehovah.” But “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals on his head.” Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good” (Romans 12:17–21).
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