Read Numbers 35
Focus v. 33
One of the headlines in the media this week claimed that the number of people murdered in the city of Chicago in 2017 had just reached the five hundred mark. The fact that this was a passing heading buried beneath other headlines makes it all the more tragic. Apparently the murder of human beings in this city is becoming so common that it is hardly considered news any more. The fact that people no longer seem to care is yet another indictment against a culture that appears to be slowly bleeding to death.
In today’s reading God is giving his people instruction about the sanctity of human life, and how when human blood is spilled it pollutes that land. This kind of lack of respect for life was just one of the reasons God was judging the Canaanites that Israel was about to displace. Apparently God is quite serious about respect for human life, since he states that it can only be atoned by shedding the blood of the one who committed the murder. Blood for blood was the rule in the Old Testament.
You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. (v. 33)
The people were not to defile the land with blood, “for blood pollutes the land”. In other words, when people are being murdered their blood cries out from the ground to the Lord for justice.
The Old Testament way was eye for eye, tooth for tooth… Jesus had a better solution. He fulfilled this law by giving His own blood when He died on the cross, and then commanded us to forgive one another. So, the new covenant of the New Testament declares that Jesus blood has paid the penalty for the sin of humanity, once for all. It is only for this reason that you and I have the option of standing before God without fear of judgment.