Sixth Commandment

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Sixth Commandment                 

Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder”.

Extra Reading: Exodus 20:1-21

We live in an age of hate, violence, intense competition, strife and personal tensions. The nations of the world and the individuals within them-are conditioning their minds and consciences to the likelihood of wholesale murder, and possibly world suicide. Naturally, this situation is devastating to the spiritual principles and ideals of all peoples. The effect of this is being felt now.  God gave the Israelites the sixth commandment for a purpose. God expects Christians to live by the spirit and fullest intent of that law as magnified by Christ Himself. Under the original letter of the law, it was intentional killing or murder which was forbidden. Remember that in this same “book of the covenant” given to Israel, God commanded them to kill or execute those guilty of major crimes (Exodus 21:12-17). Also, instructions in Numbers 35:9-34 show that accidental killing was not regarded as murder.  Just as capital punishment was commanded by God for serious crime under the letter of the law, so the commanded wars of Israel should not be viewed as acts of wholesale murder but the carrying out of the divine will through human instruments. You will notice in Deuteronomy 7:1-2 that God directly commanded Israel to exterminate the heathen tribes in the land of Canaan. This was not a humanly devised warfare nor was it personal vengeance or malice. It was the express will of Almighty God who gives life-and who alone has the right to say when it shall be taken.

Incidentally, it should be noted that the history of the time indicates that these nations occupying Canaan were absolutely wicked in the extreme-and were burning alive their own children in human sacrifice to their pagan gods. This was part of the intelligent reason why the Creator ordered their extermination at that time. You will notice that in all these cases where God permitted man to take life, it was only as His agent-at His express will. God’s original purpose was that man should learn not to kill. And although it was permitted in certain circumstances to the carnal, unconverted people of Israel, we shall see that God is now developing in His Spirit-begotten children the character to love, to serve and to save life-not to destroy it.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us not to commit murder, but to love others. In your name, we pray, Amen.

Rev. Samuel N. Modise