Cain commits the first one
But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. – GENESIS 4:8-10
This is the first murder – taking a life by shedding human blood. Blood represents life (Leviticus 17:10-14). If blood is removed from a living creature, it will die. Because God created life, only God should take life away.
Why it is so wrong
See Genesis 4:8-10 (above)
Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought sin into the human race. They may have thought their sin – eating a piece of fruit – wasn’t very bad, but notice how quickly their sinful nature developed in their children. Simple disobedience quickly degenerated into outright murder. Adam and Eve acted only against God, but Cain acted against both God and man. A small sin has a way of growing out of control. Let God help you with your “little” sins before they turn into tragedies.
And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an account, I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made man. -GENESIS 9:5-6
Here God explains why murder is so wrong: To kill a person is to kill one made in God’s image. Because all human beings are made in God’s image, all people possess the qualities that distinguish them from animals: morality, reason, creativity, and self-worth. When we interact with others, we are interacting with beings made by God, beings to whom God offers eternal life. God wants us to recognise his image in all people.
We are capable of it in our hearts
“You shall not murder. – DEUTERONOMY 5:17
“But I don’t murder people,” you may say. Good. That fulfils the letter to the law. But Jesus explained that hateful anger breaks this commandment (Matthew 5:21, 22). Have you ever been so angry with someone who mistreated you that for a moment you wished that person were dead? Have you ever fantasied that you could do someone in? Jesus’ teaching concerning this law demonstrates that we are capable of murder in our hearts. Even if we are legally innocent, we are all morally guilty of murder and need to ask God’s forgiveness. We need to commit ourselves to the opposite of hatred and anger – love and reconciliation.
Why would Saul kill 85 priests?
The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men wo wore the linen ephod. – 1 SAMUEL 22:18
Why would Saul have his own priests killed? Saul suspected a conspiracy among Jonathan, David, and the priests. His suspicion came from Doeg’s report of seeing David talking to Ahimelech, the high priest, and receiving food and a weapon from him (22:9, 10). Saul’s action showed his mental and emotional instability and how far he had strayed from God.
By destroying everything in Nob, Saul was placing the city under the ban (declaring it to be utterly destroyed) described in Deuteronomy 13:12-17, which was supposed to be used only in cases of idolatry and rebellion against God. But it was Saul, not the priests who had rebelled against God.
Why did God allow 85 priests to be killed?
See 1 SAMUEL 22:18 above.
Why did God allow 85 innocent priests to be killed? Their deaths served to dramatise to the nation how a king could become an evil tyrant. Where were Saul’s advisers? Where were the elders of Israel? Sometimes God allows evil to develop to teach us not to let evil systems flourish. Serving God is not a ticket to wealth, success, or health. God does not promise that ultimately all evil will be abolished. Those who have remained faithful through their trials will experience great rewards in the age to come (Matthew 5:11, 12; Revelation 21:1-7; 22:1-21).
Has its roots in anger & hatred
So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat. – 1 KINGS 21:4
After hearing God’s judgment (20:42), Ahab went home to pout. Driven by anger and rebellion against God, he had a fit of rage when Naboth refused to sell his vineyard. The same feelings that led him to a career of power grabbing drove him to resent Naboth. Rage turned to hatred and led to murder. Naboth, however, wanted to uphold God’s laws: it was considered a duty to keep ancestral land in the family. This incident shows the cruel interplay between Ahab and Jezebel, two of the most wicked leaders in Israel’s history.
Herod planned to kill Jesus
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” – MATTHEW 2:8
Herod did not want to worship Christ – he was lying. This was a trick to get the Magi to return to him and reveal the whereabouts of the newborn king. Herod’s plan was to kill Jesus.
Jesus exposed plot against him
“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. – MATTHEW 21:33ff
The main elements in this parable are (1) the landowner – God, (2) the vineyard – Israel, (3) the tenants – the Jewish religious leaders, (4) the landowner’s servants – the prophets and priests who remained faithful to God and preached to Israel, (5) the son – Jesus (21:38), and (6) the other tenants – the Gentiles. Jesus was exposing the religious leaders’ murderous plot (21:45).
One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you authority?”
He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John’s baptism – was it from heaven, or from men?”
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven’, he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’, all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”
So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”
Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” – LUKE 20:1-8
This group of leaders wanted to get rid of Jesus, so they tried to trap him with their question. If Jesus would answer that his authority came from God – if he stated openly that he was the Messiah and the Son of God – they would accuse him of blasphemy and bring him to trial. Jesus did not let himself be caught. Instead, he turned the question on them. Thus he exposed their motives and avoided their trap.
Stephen, the first Christian martyr
Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. – ACTS 7:60
As Stephen died, he spoke words very similar to Jesus’ words on the cross (Luke 23:34). The early believers were glad to suffer as Jesus had suffered because that meant they were counted worthy (5:41). Stephen was ready to suffer like Jesus, even to the point of asking forgiveness for his murderers. Such a forgiving response comes only from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can also help us respond as Stephen did with love for our enemies (Luke 6:27). How would you react if someone hurt you because of what you believed?
Watching the helpless die
You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. – JAMES 5:6
Innocent men were defenceless people, probably poor labourers. Poor people who could not pay their debts were thrown in prison or forced to sell all their possessions. At times, they were even forced to sell their family members into slavery. With no opportunity to work off their debts, poor people often died of starvation. God called this murder. Hoarding money, exploiting employees, and living self-indulgently will not escape God’s notice.
©Kingsway International Church 1973.