יהוה God spoke directly to the tribes, as Moses recounts in Deuteronomy 5:22: “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me“.
The people were afraid and didn’t want to hear directly from God anymore. They told Moses to go listen to God himself, and then let them know how he makes out.
Deu 5:23 And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders.
Deu 5:24 And you said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live.
Deu 5:25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die.
Deu 5:26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived?
Deu 5:27 Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say, and speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’
The first recorded murder happened many years before the Mount Horeb delivery of the Ten Commandments. It is recorded in the beginning of the first book of the Bible called Genesis, or in Hebrew, bere’shyth, meaning beginnings.
Gen 4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.”
Gen 4:2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.
Gen 4:3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground,
Gen 4:4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,
Gen 4:5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.
Gen 4:6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?
Gen 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
Gen 4:8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
Gen 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”
Gen 4:10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
Gen 4:11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
Gen 4:12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”
Cain’s offering to God was not as good as his brother Abel’s, but instead of trying to do better next time, Cain became very angry. He was enraged first in his heart against his brother, then he acted upon that anger and killed his brother. A verse that sheds a lot of information on life and death is verse ten, where Yahweh says he heard Abel’s blood cry out of the ground. In Leviticus we see verses that tells us that our life is located in our blood.
Lev 17:10 “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.
Lev 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.
Lev 17:12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.
Lev 17:14 For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.
If the blood contains the life of an individual, that tells us a lot about when life starts, and that when it is shed, the blood itself cries out to God. Where does that leave those who shed innocent blood, are unrepentant and actually promote the shedding of blood? We see a similar situation in the book of Revelation with the innocent martyrs’ souls crying out to Yahweh. [Note: I use God’s name, Yahweh or יהוה, to ensure people understand I am speaking of the God of Abraham. Yahweh is an accepted transliteration for the Tetragrammaton, יהוה, replaced in most translations of modern Bibles with LORD. According to Josephus in War of the Jews, it is pronounced as four vowel sounds. You can read more on this in the preface of your Bible where the justification used to replace יהוה with LORD is explained.]
Rev 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.
Rev 6:10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Rev 6:11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
There are cases when a person accidentally kills someone. This process does not start in the heart, but happens either by negligence or something unexpected. Yahweh gave instructions for this type of situation.
Deu 19:1 “When the LORD your God cuts off the nations whose land the LORD your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses,
Deu 19:2 you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.
Deu 19:3 You shall measure the distances and divide into three parts the area of the land that the LORD your God gives you as a possession, so that any manslayer can flee to them.
Deu 19:4 “This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past—
Deu 19:5 as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live,
Deu 19:6 lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past.
Deu 19:7 Therefore I command you, You shall set apart three cities.
Deu 19:8 And if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land that he promised to give to your fathers—
Deu 19:9 provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you today, by loving the LORD your God and by walking ever in his ways—then you shall add three other cities to these three,
Deu 19:10 lest innocent blood be shed in your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.
Deu 19:11 “But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities,
Deu 19:12 then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die.
Deu 19:13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.
Jesus clarifies the issue by saying not only do you not kill, but you don’t harbour anger in your heart towards anyone, more than likely because this is where murder begins. If you have killed someone in your heart, it is the same to God as murder. We also see we are not to call into question someone’s worth.
Mat 5:21 You have heard that it was said to the ancients, “You shall not kill” —and, “Whoever shall kill shall be liable to the judgment.”
Mat 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be liable to the judgment. And whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the sanhedrin; but whoever shall say, Fool! shall be liable to be thrown into the fire of hell.
Mat 5:23 Therefore if you offer your gift on the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you,
Mat 5:24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Of Chaldee origin (compare [H7386]); O empty one, that is, thou worthless (as a term of utter vilification): – Raca.
From H7324; empty; figuratively worthless: – emptied (-ty), vain (fellow, man).
It is clear that Jesus did not come to change Yahweh God’s law, but to live it as an example for us. By the time of Jesus, so many man made traditions and commandments had been invented, it was hard to know what one was to do. We have these circumstances today as well. Jesus tells us to teach and do the commandments.
Mat 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Mat 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Mat 5:19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
If Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, then that tells us a lot about what we can use for a definition for fulfill. It has to have a different meaning than abolish. Fulfill is for Strong’s G4137, used to translate the Greek word πληροω. The words perform or execute would fit that requirement.
1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full
1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally
1a1) I abound, I am liberally supplied
2) to render full, i.e. to complete
2a) to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim
2b) to consummate: a number
2b1) to make complete in every particular, to render perfect
2b2) to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking)
2c) to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise
2c1) of matters of duty: to perform, execute
2c2) of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish
2c3) to fulfil, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment
Jesus also gives us an example of not killing even when you are able to or justified. When He was betrayed and arrested His disciples wanted to fight with the sword, but He stopped them.
Mat 26:48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.”
Mat 26:49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.
Mat 26:50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
Mat 26:51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Mat 26:52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Mat 26:53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
Mat 26:54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
We see many examples of the martyrs we talked about in the book Revelation, who’s souls were under the alter, in the early church. They did not fight anyone physically or deny Jesus, as they were being forced to do, but stood strong in the faith. First we will look at the account of the killing of James from Eusebius, a fourth century historian, taken from the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Series II, Volume I.
Chapter IX.—The Martyrdom of James the Apostle.
- “Now about that time” (it is clear that he means the time of Claudius) “Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”
- They were both therefore, he says, led away together; and on the way he begged James to forgive him. And he, after considering a little, said, “Peace be with thee,” and kissed him. And thus they were both beheaded at the same time.
- And concerning this James, Clement, in the seventh book of his Hypotyposes, relates a story which is worthy of mention; telling it as he received it from those who had lived before him. He says that the one who led James to the judgment-seat, when he saw him bearing his testimony, was moved, and confessed that he was himself also a Christian.
- And then, as the divine Scripture says,
that the deed pleased the Jews, attacked Peter also and committed him to prison, and would have slain him if he had not, by the divine appearance of an angel who came to him by night, been wonderfully released from his bonds, and thus liberated for the service of the Gospel. Such was the providence of God in respect to Peter.
Another martyr of the early church was Polycarp. Polycarp was a bishop at the Church of Smyrna, probably at the time the Apostle John wrote to the church. The following is a letter that is also recorded by Eusebius, taken from the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Series II, Volume I. This book and many other old texts can be downloaded from CCEL.org for free.
“And when they failed to persuade him [Polycarp], they uttered dreadful words, and thrust him down with violence, so that as he descended from the carriage he lacerated his shin. But without turning round, he went on his way promptly and rapidly, as if nothing had happened to him, and was taken to the stadium. But there was such a tumult in the stadium that not many heard a voice from heaven, which came to Polycarp as he was entering the place: ‘Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.’ And no one saw the speaker, but many of our people heard the voice. And when he was led forward, there was a great tumult, as they heard that Polycarp was taken. Finally, when he came up, the proconsul asked if he were Polycarp. And when he confessed that he was, he endeavored to persuade him to deny, saying, ‘Have regard for thine age,’ and other like things, which it is their custom to say: ‘Swear by the genius of Cæsar; repent and say, ‘Away with the Atheists.’ But Polycarp, looking with dignified countenance upon the whole crowd that was gathered in the stadium, waved his hand to them, and groaned, and raising his eyes toward heaven, said, ‘Away with the Atheists.’ But when the magistrate pressed him, and said, ‘Swear, and I will release thee; revile Christ,’ Polycarp said, ‘Fourscore and six years have I been serving him, and he hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?’ “But when he again persisted, and said, ‘Swear by the genius of Cæsar,’ Polycarp replied, ‘If thou vainly supposest that I will swear by the genius of Cæsar, as thou sayest, feigning to be ignorant who I am, hear plainly: I am a Christian. But if thou desirest to learn the doctrine of Christianity, assign a day and hear.’ The proconsul said, ‘Persuade the people.’ But Polycarp said, ‘As for thee, I thought thee worthy of an explanation; for we have been taught to render to princes and authorities ordained by God the honor that is due, so long as it does not injure us; but as for these, I do not esteem them the proper persons to whom to make my defense.’ But the proconsul said, ‘I have wild beasts; I will throw thee to them unless thou repent.’ But he said, ‘Call them; for repentance from better to worse is a change we cannot make. But it is a noble thing to turn from wickedness to righteousness.’ But he again said to him, ‘If thou despisest the wild beasts, I will cause thee to be consumed by fire, unless thou repent.’ But Polycarp said, ‘Thou threatenest a fire which burneth for an hour, and after a little is quenched; for thou knowest not the fire of the future judgment and of the eternal punishment which is reserved for the impious. But why dost thou delay? Do what thou wilt.’ Saying these and other words besides, he was filled with courage and joy, and his face was suffused with grace, so that not only was he not terrified and dismayed by the words that were spoken to him, but, on the contrary, the proconsul was amazed, and sent his herald to proclaim three times in the midst of the stadium: ‘Polycarp hath confessed that he is a Christian.’ And when this was proclaimed by the herald, the whole multitude, both of Gentiles and of Jews, who dwelt in Smyrna, cried out with ungovernable wrath and with a great shout, ‘This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the over thrower of our gods, who teacheth many not to sacrifice nor to worship.’ When they had said this, they cried out and asked the Asiarch Philip to let a lion loose upon Polycarp. But he said that it was not lawful for him, since he had closed the games. Then they thought fit to cry out with one accord that Polycarp should be burned alive. For it was necessary that the vision should be fulfilled which had been shown him concerning his pillow, when he saw it burning while he was praying, and turned and said prophetically to the faithful that were with him, ‘I must needs be burned alive.’ These things were done with great speed,—more quickly than they were said,—the crowds immediately collecting from the workshops and baths timber and fagots, the Jews being especially zealous in the work, as is their wont. But when the pile was ready, taking off all his upper garments, and loosing his girdle, he attempted also to remove his shoes, although he had never before done this, because of the effort which each of the faithful always made to touch his skin first; for he had been treated with all honor on account of his virtuous life even before his gray hairs came. Forthwith then the materials prepared for the pile were placed about him; and as they were also about to nail him to the stake, he said, ‘Leave me thus; for he who hath given me strength to endure the fire, will also grant me strength to remain in the fire unmoved without being secured by you with nails.’ So they did not nail him, but bound him. And he, with his hands behind him, and bound like a noble ram taken from a great flock, an acceptable burnt-offering unto God omnipotent, said, ‘Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of thee, the God of angels and of powers and of the whole creation and of the entire race of the righteous who live in thy presence, I bless thee that thou hast deemed me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a portion in the number of the martyrs, in the cup of Christ, unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the immortality of the Holy Spirit. Among these may I be received before thee this day, in a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as thou, the faithful and true God, hast beforehand prepared and revealed, and hast fulfilled. Wherefore I praise thee also for everything; I bless thee, I glorify thee, through the eternal high priest, Jesus Christ, thy beloved Son, through whom, with hi2m, in the Holy Spirit, be glory unto thee, both now and for the ages to come, Amen.’ When he had offered up his Amen and had finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire and as a great flame blazed out, we, to whom it was given to see, saw a wonder, and we were preserved that we might relate what happened to the others.”
Accounts of the early Martyrs are plentiful, and I will be including them in future blogs. They were burned alive, and dangled in front of lions on poles, to ensure they would experience the slowest and most painful death possible. Jesus told us to expect it.
Mat 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Mat 10:17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,
Mat 10:18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.
Mat 10:19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.
Mat 10:20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Mat 10:21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,
Mat 10:22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Mat 10:23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Mat 10:24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.
So what will become of the murderous heart and those unrepentant souls who shed innocent blood? Their destiny is clear in Jesus’s Revelation to the Apostle John.
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Rev 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Rev 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Rev 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
Feature photo taken by Emma Vail.
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