"If the truth offends, then let it offend.
People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be
offended for a little while." - Dr. John MacArthur
"If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be offended for a little while." - Dr. John MacArthur
Life and Death in the New World
- Genesis 9:1-6
- May 6, 2001
So prior to the flood, God was protecting people. And then there was in the later part of the fourth chapter a man named Lamek, and Lamek you remember said that he had killed a man and that he was proud about it, there's no indication that God required his life.
But now, in the new world, God is gonna provide some blessing that He didn't provide before. He's gonna authorize the eating of anything and everything, He's gonna tell them to cook it so that they don't introduce into their body those kinds of things that can cause their death, and He's gonna put into place capital punishment to prevent people being killed.
Notice again in verse 5, "Surely I will require". In Psalm 9, I think it's verse 12, God is actually called He who requires blood. The Psalm has identified God as the one who required blood, referring to God's requirement for execution as compensation.
This is of course repeated elsewhere in the Old Testament. 2 Chronicles chapter 24 has a section that deals with this. In verse 20 of 2 Chronicles 24, "Then the Spirit of God came upon Zachariah, the Son of Jehovah the priest. He stood above the people and said to them, 'Thus God has said, why do you transgress the commandment of the Lord and do not prosper because you have forsaken the Lord; he has also forsaken you.' So they conspired against him and at the command of the king, they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord. Thus Jonas the King did not remember the kindness which his father Jehovah had shown him, but he murdered his son. And as he died he said, 'May the Lord see an avenge."
Here was a man being murdered illegitimately, and he looks to Heaven and says, "May God avenge you for this" because he knew what the law of God against murder was.
And you will also compare 2 Samuel 4:10. It tells the story about David and you remember, David carried out this law of capital punishment on those who killed Ishbasha. Do you remember, he was the son of Sol, and he was killed and David acted as God's avenging agent. So they knew what the Law of God was with regard to those who killed.
And not only humans, but the Lord first of all says "From every beast I will require it". From every beast. If an animal takes the life of a many, the life of that animal is to be taken. That animal has stepped across the boundary of fear and dread that animals should have toward man, and I require the life of that animal.
Exodus 21:28, "If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox should surely be stoned, its flesh shall not be eaten, the owner of the ox shall go unpunished. If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring, and its owner has been warned, yet he doesn't confine it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner shall also be put to death". Hmm, better kill that ox. It could cost you your life. God will avenge the death of a man on the animal which has broken through the divine fence as it were of fear and terror to kill a man. So the destruction of that kind of animal receives divine sanction.
And God doesn't stop with animals. He says verse 5, "From every man's brother I will require the life of man". Man is included in this. Every man. From every man's brother, and that is an allusion to Cain killing Abel. And by the way, at the time he said this, there was only one father and three brothers. Killing a man is serious. Killing your brother is serious. "And I will require the life of man". Exodus 21:12, "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death".
Now, look at this sentence in verse 6, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed". That very precise sentence is given in what's called a lapidary style. It is a keyostic parallelism. What does that mean? It repeats in the second half of the sentence every word in the first half in reverse order. "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed". It's said that way so that it might be remembered. This is the law of lex talionis, the law of retaliation. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" as Exodus 21 says it. If you shed man's blood, that means you murder somebody. By man, at the hands of man, your blood shall be shed. This is not personal vengeance, this is simply the responsibility of humanity. By man in the humanity sense. If you kill someone, your life will be taken by man. The agency then is man. Under divine mandate. He is the instrument of God's vengeance, in human society, on murderers.
Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword (Matthew 26:52, King James Version)
[PHOTO SOURCE: https://genius.com/Slayer-die-by-the-sword-lyrics]
All through the Scripture there's the forbidding of personal vengeance. But societal vengeance is prescribed under God's law for mans' protection. And when you get into the New Testament, Jesus confirms this in one of the really important statements. It's Matthew 26:52 and the soldiers have come into the Garden to take Jesus, and you remember Peter is there. Peter sees the soldiers coming to take the Lord, he doesn't want them to do that, so he pulls out a sword, remember? And he swings at the head of Malakus, the servant of the High Priest who was probably in front of the crowd kind of going ahead of the High Priest, and he tried to cut his head off. You don't use a sword just to make scratches on people or to whack off their ears; nobody is that good with a sword - least of all Peter, who wasn't even a soldier. He was trying to cut his head off and he ducked, no doubt, and lost an ear.
And Jesus said this to Peter. Matthew 26:52, "Put your sword back in its place. For all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword". What was Jesus saying? If you take that mans' life, you have to give your life. You can't use that sword to kill somebody with impunity. You take his life, they have a right to take your life. Jesus said all those who take up the sword are gonna die by the sword. All who kill will themselves die. And thus did Jesus uphold the law of capital punishment.
The Apostle Paul did the same thing; he upheld the death penalty. He was speaking in Acts 25:11 in the Roman Court under Festus in the city of Czarina, he said, "If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die". Paul understood that the capital punishment law was a law of God. And he said if I've done anything worthy of death, I don't refuse to die - I can accept my just execution.
And then that very familiar portion of Scripture, Romans 13 which is very clear. It tells us if you do what is evil be afraid, for it does not bear the sword for nothing. It is a minister of God and it's talking about government. Talking about authority; the powers that be. And he says, "the powers that be, if you do what is evil, should cause you fear, for they do not bear the sword for nothing. Rather, they are ministers of God, avengers who bring wrath on those who practice evil."
What is a sword for? A sword was not to slap people with, it was not to scratch people with, it was to kill people with. It was a deadly weapon. It wasn't a whip, it wasn't sticks, it wasn't stocks, it was an instrument of death. And he says the government doesn't have this instrument of death for nothing, but rather, as avengers of God who bring God's wrath on ones who practice evil. So Paul taught submit to the civil authorities. Submit to the government. Because they have the power of capital punishment, and they do it - this is interesting - as the minister of God.
I remember one time I was doing a training session for the LAPD down in Parker Center, and it was everybody from sergeants right on up through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department. And I wanted to give them a new understanding of their identity, and so I taught them Romans 13. And I started out by saying I'm here as a minister of God to speak to fellow ministers of God. And some of them put down their cigars and said, "What?" I said, "Yes, you're ministers of God".
And I wanted to tell them that they are ministers of God for vengeance on evil people. They had, for the most part, never even heard of such a thing. They liked it. They liked it a lot. And they asked me, I think a few weeks later, to give the same talk to the fire department. This is a little bit different, since they don't carry weapons. We covered some other areas. But they are ministers of God. Governments are responsible to take life when life has been taken.
It's unpleasant to think of a lethal injection; it's unpleasant to think of an electrocution, it's unpleasant to think of a hanging, it's unpleasant to think of a firing squad, it's unpleasant to think of a guillotine or any other mode of death - but those are the kinds of things that stand as threats behind the stability of civilized society. And this is a protective power. A necessity determined by the creator for the blessing of his creation.
So God says, "Kill all the animals you want, no penalty." Isn't' that amazing now? People kill animals and they're going to court and being sent to jail. Isn't that true? When God says you can kill and eat anything you want it doesn't mean somebody else's pet, you understand that; I mean, there's a limit. It also doesn't mean you can climb the fence and kill the next rancher's cow. There are some obvious limitations But, the general pattern is that all of these creatures are for our use. If you need a horse to ride, that's wonderful. If you need a goat to keep the grass cut, that's great. If you wanna eat the animals, you can do that as well, as we all do. but once you kill a man, you're gonna lose your life. Big difference between an animal and a man. Right? what's the difference? Back to Genesis; the big difference, do you see it, the very end of the verse, "For in the image of God He made man". Now we're back to that same great reality, that man is transcendent; man is eternal, man is personal.
Nothing is as devastating, folks - and you know this - nothing is as devastating in human experience as somebody's death. Right? you can lose your job, survive. Lose your house, survive. You lose your kidney, survive. Lose your foot, survive. You lose your dog, you survive. But the pain of all pains is when you lose somebody in your family, isn't it. that's because of personhood. It's because of relationships. Spiritual connection. That's true even among degenerate people. murder, then, is a sin of the highest rank in the physical realm. It is the ultimate crime. It's the worst crime of all crimes. You can steal a man's cow, steal a man's sheep, burn a man's field, ruin his reputation - that's bad, but the worst thing you can do to somebody is kill them. devastating to their whole family.
‘Pope Francis is dead wrong about capital punishment. God has commanded government to use the death penalty to demonstrate the seriousness of murder: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6).’ - Pastor Robert Jeffress versus Pope Francis
[PHOTO SOURCE: https://twitter.com/williamtstew/status/1026272804201811968]
It is the ultimate crime against the highest of God's creation. Somebody in God's image, who is transcendent, personal, and eternal. And a murderer has removed one of the images of God from the earth; and consequently, severely disfigured that image in himself so as to deserve death. And maybe the widespread evil in the pre-flood world was aided and abetted by a failure to deal with murderers. I would be convinced today that crime in our society and killing in our society is aided and abetted by a failure to kill murderers. And to kill them swiftly.
And just as a footnote, the Mosaic law provides lesser punishment for manslaughter, inadvertent, accidental killing, and we're not talking about war, when one is defending ones self against an attacker who is a would-be murderer. Actually, in the later law of Moses, there were about 35 different sins for which God prescribed capital punishment. But the worst of all was murder.
So here's life in the new world. and God provides these blessings. Procreation, what a blessing is marriage and family. Prominence, and what a blessing it is to rule, to be king of the earth, all the animal life, all the plant life for our enjoyment. Sometimes it is for pets, sometimes it is for animals that work the farm, and sometimes it is for food; but it's all ours. And then there is the wonderful blessing of prohibition, where the Lord says don't eat it raw, and don't drink that blood, because its' harmful and I wanna protect you from the mutating microorganisms that since the fall carry death potentially. And then there is the protection of all protections that labels one who is a murderer of man and eliminates his life.
And all of this, folks, is the common grace that exists in the world that demonstrates the patience and forbearance of God that is meant to lead man to repentance, in the words of Romans 2:4. this is God's goodness for all mankind. And sadly, God has been so patient and so gracious and so kind and so good to sinners, and he hasn't destroyed the world since the flood, and he won't until the very end. And so we can say with the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2, "Now is the day of salvation", right? this is the time to see the good hand of God in the world. to see his patience and forbearance. To recognize that he has overlooked the accumulated sinfulness of man, dealt with us graciously.