Regular nibbles from the Bible. . .come for a bite, leave with an appetite

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. (Psalm 19:14, MSG)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

EASY WAY OUT (Deuteronomy 19)

 About 1,400 years before Christ, God commanded Israel to build a national highway system.

Seriously, Moses told them, "build roads to the towns."

The road would probably run through the center of Israel. God told them to divide the land into thirds, and choose one town from each third. They were to be "easily accessible"--no tall mountains or difficult rivers should stand in the way. The road would (probably) span Israel north to south, the way that Interstate 35 runs from Duluth to Laredo and runs a few miles away from the nursing home where I live, hitting a lot of major towns in between.

Here's the kicker: the reason for the road system: "so that anyone who accidentally kills another can flee there."

I read that and envisioned "the fugitive" (an Egyptian-era fugitive, that is), running down the road for his life, seeking sanctuary before the avenger caught up with him.

I love the simple justice dealt for untimely death:

  • If it was accidental - the one who caused the death is innocent, and he has the right to seek sanctuary in the Cities of Refuge.
  • If the man who killed someone else by accident is himself killed in revenge, that's murder.
  • If there is known to be bad blood between two men, and one kills the other, it's considered murder, and the murderer is executed.
  • If a dead body is discovered and no one witnessed the death, the elders of the town offer a heifer and proclaim their innocence. The matter is dropped.  (that would be a neat way to get rid of a lot of cold cases!)
But. . .the road system . . .built to protect the rights of the innocent.

Two witnesses to any crime were required before a sentence could be handed out.

Rather than being the harsh "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth," culture as I've often pictured it, God actually created a justice system where guilt had to be proved twice over and the government was supposed to protect the innocent by building them a road. 

When Jesus said He was the way, He put me on the road--the way--to protection. Only in Him do I find refuge for my soul. 

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