Exodus 21:12-13 Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.
The laws given to Moses by the LORD on Mt Sinai don’t sit comfortably with us, largely because of Jesus’ teaching, by word and action, on forgiveness (cf John 8:3-11), and of the redemptive power of the cross.
However, in establishing a framework for the good functioning of the society which the Chosen Covenant People would form when they settled in the Promised Land, it was important that they understood the very high value the LORD placed on human life and welfare. (It is interesting, yet very disturbing, that our present culture categorically decries capital punishment while at the same time passing laws that allow the taking of human life, as a matter of ‘convenience’, in the womb! This is especially disturbing in the light of God’s greater concern for the life and welfare of the more vulnerable. It is amazing how sin can cause blindness to such an ‘obvious’ inconsistency!)
At least the LORD’s provision for ‘manslaughter’ in the Mosaic Law makes allowance for genuine ‘accidents’, and there are other requirements throughout this chapter that aim to minimise accidents by good ‘OHS’ provisions (cf verses 28-29)!
A significant phrase in today’s verses is, “but God lets it happen”. Hard as it is at times to live with this, our own culture needs to come to grips with the doctrine throughout the whole Bible of the sovereign ‘providence’ of God. As the Heidelberg Catechism (Q.27) says: “Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he still upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty – ALL THINGS, in fact, come to us NOT BY CHANCE but from HIS fatherly hand.”
Can WE identify with the Apostle Paul in his confident statement: “And we KNOW that in ALL THINGS God works for the GOOD of those who love him, who have been called according to HIS purpose.” (Romans 8:28), even on those occasions when it’s extremely hard to do so? Can we, at least, find COMFORT in this truth, even when we are struggling to understand the ‘Why’ of God’s providence?