Posted Jan 11, 2017 by Brian Heckethorn in Statutes and Judgements Hits: 801

Why does God command Ratsach (Murder)?

Let's consider this verse:

Numbers 35:30

Whoso killeth any person, the murderer [H7523] shall be put to death [H7523] by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.

H7523 is Ratsach. a primitive root; properly, to dash in pieces, i.e. kill (a human being), especially to murder:--put to death, kill, (man-)slay(-er), murder(-er).

This is the same word used as "kill" in the 6th Commandment:

Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill [H7523]

Why would God tell us to murder/kill after He has given us a Law that tells us NOT to murder?

Did God change His mind?

Malachi 3:6-7 For I am the Lord, I change not;

In order to understand Numbers 35:30 properly, we need to go to Jesus.

Matthew 19:17-19 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

In the Old Testiment, we are told not to murder. And from the lips of Christ we are told not to murder. But then why is God telling us to murder? Are we reading our Bibles wrong?

Romans 8:6-8 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

So we are reading our Bibles with carnal minds, which is why we read it as the Lord telling us to murder after He has told us not to. So then how do we read Numbers 35:30 with life and peace?

Malachi 2:5 My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.

The Lord gave us His Law to be life and peace, but because of the fear by which man feared the Lords name, the law was interpreted with corruption. But what is the name of the Lord that they so feared?

Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

Exodus 34:6-8 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

To proclaim the name of God is to proclaim his attributes.

1 John 3:23-24 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

When name is used in this way, it does not mean the word by which a person is called, but rather the whole nature or character of the person as far as we know it or understand it.

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.

"Our help is in the name of the LORD" (Psalm 124:8). David, the psalmist here, does not mean that our help lies in the fact that God is called Yahweh. This name contains nothing magic in it at all. David means that our help is in His love, in His MERCY, in His GRACE, in His promises (all this attributes listed above in Exodus 34:6-8) It is in the things that have been revealed to us as His nature, of His attributes, and of His character—and whether or not we have faith in them.

So then, to "believe in the name of Jesus Christ" means to believe in the nature and the character of Jesus Christ. It means to believe that He is the Son of God and that He stands in relation to the Father in a way that no other person in the universe ever has or ever will. It means that He can perfectly reveal the Father to us. It means that we believe He is the Savior, the High Priest, the Mediator and Intercessor, and our soon-coming King. It means that we believe that through Him we have entrance into God's presence—not just entrance to Him, but actually, fellowship with Him.

By bringing into the church those who bear Christ's name while they deny His character, the wicked one causes that God shall be dishonored, the work of salvation misrepresented, and souls imperiled. COL 71.1

So what then does the Lord want from us? He spoke to us then in ways we understood Him because of man's fear for Him. But through Christ He has revealed Hinself to us as a loving God; filled with grace and mercy. Is there grace and mercy in murder? No!

Murder defiles, corrupts, pollutes, debases, and adulterates the land. Can murder possibly enhance the quality of life? Does it produce liberty? Does it free us to move about with light-hearted security because all is well? Or does it produce anxiety in people, stain a nation's reputation, and instill fear in outsiders who do business or have social intercourse with them? Murder has no "saving grace." It produces nothing good. For society's good, God has allowed the authority given to the state to punish those guilty of murder with a penalty commensurate with their crime. But it was not God's intention for murder to be met with murder; it was not God's intention for murder to ever exist (death is the result of sin!). When Satan murdered the Son of God, he rejoiced for all of a minute until he realized that it was the Grace, Mercy and Longsuffering of God through His Son that locked the key to his own destruction by his own works of sin.

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

How does the death of Christ result in the destruction of the devil?

The very fact that Christ bore the penalty of man's transgression is a mighty argument to all created intelligences that the law is changeless; that God is righteous, merciful, and self-denying; and that infinite justice and mercy unite in the administration of His government. PP 70.1

It is said of our Savior that He “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10). Death is the result of sin. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15). But “sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4). Christ, therefore, came to abolish that which is the result of being out of harmony with the law, and He did it, not by abolishing the law, but by bringing us into harmony with the law.

Sin, when it is finished, brings death. In the end, sin receives the results of itself. It is not God that desires His people to murder or kill, He gives us ever council to do justice and mercy, to be graceful and long suffering. Through James we receive His charge,

James 1:16-20, 22-25 Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Wrath does not show the righteousness of God. How is murder or killing or even death righteous? God would have us be doers of His Word (Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill) and not hearers only. He does not want us or our forefathers to hear His Word and inturpret as they themselves would inturpret. That's why there was so much death in the Old Testament. But when we read the words of God through His prophets of old, we get the truth of what it was He wanted of men back then.

Hosea 6:5-6 Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 

Without the Covenants and the Law as a mirror this verse can not be understood properly.  Having read all that we have here studied, how do we now read this verse?

Numbers 35:30 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer [H7523] shall be put to death [H7523] by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.

Now let's finish hearing what the Lord says that we may be DOERS of His Word:

Numbers 35:31-34 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest. So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel. 

Only the blood of Christ, whose blood was shed, can cleanse the land. The blood of a murderer can do nothing.