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Man's Life Belongs to God

Long, long ago, God established an enduring law concerning the life of man so that no one should misunderstand.  The basis of this law has existed from the creation of man, but God expressed it and codified it in clear terms after the worldwide flood more than 4,000 years ago.  This law was given to Noah and his descendants, which means that it governs all of us and shall continue to govern until the end of time.  We find this law in God's words recorded in Genesis 9:5-6:

5"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.  6Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man."

This is God's claim to the exclusive ownership and sovereignty over the lives of every man, woman, and child.  Any person or creature who violates this claim shall be accountable to God.

Consider the circumstances that led to God's statement of this law.  Prior to the flood, "the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence" (Gen. 6:11).  This violence was introduced to the world many years before by Cain, who shed the blood of his brother Abel.  God was immediately incited by Cain's act of violence, saying to Cain, "The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground" (Gen. 4:10).  From that time, violence increased in the world, including that of Lamech, who said, "I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me" (Gen. 4:23). By the time of Noah, violence in the earth was so pervasive that God was provoked to destroy the whole world (Gen. 6:13).  Only Noah, his family, and a few selected creatures were spared on the ark.  As soon as Noah emerged from the ark, God gave him this law to govern the violence of man for the rest of time.

Examine carefully God's law in Genesis 9:5-6.  Concerning the life of man, God says, "Surely I will require your lifeblood." By this, God is setting accountability from any person or beast that takes the life of man.  In other words, anyone who takes a human life will be responsible for that life.  God will require an explanation or an atonement for the shedding of man's blood. Very few explanations will suffice as reasonable excuses (none are given in these verses), so the penalty will almost always be enacted.  For any beast that takes a life, obviously no explanation or excuse can be given, so the beast must be put to death.  As for man, God says, "And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man."  This means that every man will have to answer if he takes his brother's life or even his own life.  For one who takes the life of his brother, his life will be taken.  For this purpose, God has delegated authority to civil governments to execute His wrath by capital punishment (Rom. 13:1-4). Obviously, one who takes his own life cannot be punished by civil authorities, but he will stand accountable in the Judgment (2Cor. 5:10).  This accountability for man's life has its origin in creation, "for in the image of God He made man."  Just as Jesus recognized that coins bearing Caesar's image belonged to Caesar (Matt. 22:19-21), so also man who bears God's image belongs to God.  Only God can give life, and only He has the right to take it.

It is high time that the world turns its attention back to this ancient law of God, for the state of violence in this world is becoming reminiscent of the conditions before the great flood.  The twentieth century was the most violent century on record, and the new century has just continued that trend.  In our nation, murders totaled 14,196 for the year 2013 (the latest year with statistics available) with cities like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and even Washington, D.C. leading the way.  It is no surprise, considering how senseless violence and murder is glorified on the city streets, in gangs, in video games, and in entertainment.  There is also the Muslim menace, which preaches the virtues of murdering unbelievers of Islam.  This influence bore its violent fruit this week in our own state, as four Marines were killed and three other people were wounded by an Islamist in Chattanooga.  As appalling as the murder rate is, it hardly compares to the number of unborn babies who are killed in abortions. Every year, over one million legal abortions are reported (not counting those that are illegal or unreported), and more than 53 million children have been killed in abortions in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.  Just this week, a video surfaced of a high level Planned Parenthood abortion doctor bragging about the abortions she oversees and performs and the organs and tissues that her organization harvests and sells.  This woman's brazen callousness demonstrates how little human life means to many people in our nation.  As these lives continue to be taken day after day, the law of God stands, and the Scripture cries out that God hates hands that shed innocent blood (Prov. 6:17).

Let us always remember that man is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), which means that man's life is the exclusive, precious property of God.  Taking a human life is stealing from God, and anyone who does so will have to answer for it.  The law of God on this matter could not be clearer, so man has no excuse for violating His will.  As it is, some murderers may escape justice in this world, but they will stand before the Lord to answer for their sins in the Judgment.  Even they can be saved from wrath through faithful obedience to the gospel of Christ and His redeeming blood (1Tim. 1:15-16; 1Pet. 1:18-19), but otherwise they will pay the ultimate penalty, for God will require it of them.

Stacey E. Durham



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