Is murder ever excused? This has been a question that has nagged at me for as long as I can remember.
One of the ten commandments clearly states, “Thou shalt not kill.” Yet, most bible believers, including Christians, seem to have found an amendment that states, “except in self-defense”, “except in retaliation”, “except in vengeance”, “except if you are angry or otherwise temporarily insane”, “except to save another life”, “except if your spouse cheats”, except if someone is stealing from you”, “except if your family is threatened”… Despite humanity’s list of exceptions, there is no such amendment to God’s command, not to kill!
The Bible translates several Hebrew words to murder, kill, and other terms that are commonly understood to mean “take a life”. The commandment, however, refers to a particular Hebrew word, “ratsach”, specifically meaning to kill someone intentionally or unintentionally. To understand the significance of the use of this particular word, let’s look at some of the other Hebrew words that are commonly understood to mean murder.
The Hebrew word pronounced, “hacote”, actually means to crush, as in to beat, bash, or destroy, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the victims of “hacote” actually died from their injuries. This word does not mean kill and is also not the term used in the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”, meaning it is something different altogether.
Another word often interpreted to mean “kill” is “harag”. This is the one that demonstrates the importance of the word choice in the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”. It means to target to kill or to kill with intent. This is what Cain did to able in Genesis. After Yah warned him about the error in his thinking and intent, Cain chose to do it anyway. This is murder with intent or “harag”.
The commandment, however, is that we should not intentionally or unintentionally kill anyone. It directly states that taking a life for any cause, including as a result of negligence or accident is cause for judgment.
The thing that has caused my dilemma, and that I am certain causes most other people’s confusion about this subject, is that, in the Old Testament, God commanded people to kill other people on multiple occasions. However, in most instances, he is not commanding murder, but separation or severance of one thing from another.
For example, the phrase “cut off” is used in the bible over 600 times. When we read “he shall be cut off from his people” such as in Leviticus 19:8, we often interpret this to mean the person convicted is murdered, but this is not true. It means exactly what it says, “family ties will be severed”.
Contrarily, some laws seem to infer that it is okay to murder, in revenge, a person who has murdered a loved one if the murderer is not in a “city of refuge”. (Numbers 35:27)
The thing about the law is this. It gives you a baseline by which we are all subjected to judgment. It doesn’t emphatically state every person who commits a murder will go to “hell”, but every person who murders will be subject to judgment and is at risk of condemnation. So he says, do not kill by accident or on purpose. It should be understood that this means, “Thou shalt not kill… lest you be subjected to judgment.”
Yahusha offers us some insight into this matter. In Matthew 5:21 Yahusha says, “You have heard since the old times “thou shalt not kill: and whosoever shall kill is in danger of the judgment. But I say whosoever is angry with his brother without cause is in danger of judgment.” He confirms that the commandments are not a list of heaven or hell checkpoints, but lists of warnings of things that will make you subject to spiritual death, or as we say judgment.
It wasn’t until a dream I had a couple of days ago that I became aware of the answers and explanations to this question, “Is murder ever excused?”
I dreamed that I was about to be murdered by a young girl, who was about 12 years old. She and three of her siblings, all young children, were robbing a gas station. As the little girl strengthened her grip around my neck and attempted to drive a knife through my torso, I heard God speak to me. He said, “I want you to talk to them.” It was more like a feeling that spoke to me than a voice. I thought, “What can I possibly say to these children that will get them to stop murdering and robbing and listen to me?” They had already stabbed other patrons of the store.
Nonetheless, I convinced them all to put down their knives and walk with me outside. I spoke to them about life and God. Here was my explanation to a group of children who had little idea about regarding God, life, and murder.
I asked, “Why don’t you care about other peoples lives? ” They all gave vague reasons excuses like, “Nobody cares about mines.” I then began explaining to them, “In the beginning, God breathed life into his human creation. That life is the part of God that exists in every living person. It is our connection to Him. Now, you all have in you a spirit.” I asked, “Do you know Donald Trump?” They all said, “Of course!” and laughed. I continued, “He is what we call narcissistic. He believes that he can do anything he wants and that everything he does is without fault. He believes he will make America great again. And no matter how much reality disagrees with him, he continues to proclaim he is right.” They giggled. I said, “You have a narcissistic Donald Trump spirit in you. It thinks that it can kill God, so it drives people like you to take life in pursuit of killing God because life is God in man. But it knows that God is infinite and that He can never be killed. So what happens is, the spirit uses you and others like you to takes people’s lives which is there to help us all know God someday and it cuts their lives short before they get to know Him.” I asked, “Do you know that the same life that is in the people you harm is in you and every life is from God? So if you take someone’s life, you are ultimately killing yourself. Every time a person kills someone else, they are attempting to kill that same a part of themselves because the life in us is one life, it is God’s.”
After this I became conscious, yet still asleep. I began praying, which is to seek God’s will and direction. As I did, I came to understand that that little girl’s life was more necessary to be saved than my own. She needed to live, I didn’t.
I came to understand that sinners need a physical life, the righteous do not. So, why is it that “God’s people” are arming themselves? Gun’s are “intended” to kill. Do we not believe that God is in control?
I’ve even heard fairly wise Hebrews assert that it is foolish to think this way. But is it foolish to believe that life is in God’s hands and that no person can kill us if God wants us to live and no gun can save us if He wants us to die?
It also dawned on me that every person arming themselves, somewhere deep inside, know that they are not ready to die… They know, as well as any other murderer, that they are not righteous. So, they too need to live.
See God is so simple. Yet, to the human mind, he is very complex. Even in death, life continues for the righteous. We take with us our most precious memories, our deeds, those we led back to the Father, our love, and everything else that was good while we lived on earth. Whatever was not like God was purged in life, therefore a righteous person lives on even in physical death.
Contrarily, when a person dies unrighteous, Yah takes back what belongs to him – the breath of life. Everything else was not like God and, therefore, it perishes.
Think back to the parable of talents. Three men were given money according to their abilities. Two returned having multiplied what they were given but the third buried the money out of fear and returned only what had been given to him. That one was cursed and what he had was taken from him and given to another. This is what life is like. If we don’t do with it what God intended, it will simply be taken from us leaving behind no evidence of its existence!
If you are afraid of death, ask yourself what you need to do to truly become righteous.
Yahusha understood this truth. Remember in Matthew 26:53 where he said, ” If I wanted, I could pray to the father and 12 legions of angels would come to my rescue.” Why didn’t he have those murderers killed? Perhaps it was because he didn’t need to live. However, they did because they needed a chance to become righteous!
Additionally, every single time he felt his life was in danger, rather than grabbing a sword or calling his boys to fight with him, he ran and hid until it was time for him to die.
So, next time you are considering what you would do if your life was threatened, think about this. As long as your response is to take a life that is desperately in need of more time, know that you are not righteous and are also in desperate need of more time.
I am not judging or claiming it to be either right or wrong to prepare to kill in self-defense. I am simply pointing out that it is a measuring stick for you and me to know that despite what we may think, most of us are not ready to meet our maker. Use your willingness to take a life as a reminder that God still has work to do in you and continually and diligently to seek His face until you fear death no more.
The Moral: A righteous person murdered glorifies God, but an unrighteous life taken too soon dishonors His kingdom.
In the end, there is no excuse but there is justification for murder and every other sin. Yahuwah will judge us as either justified or not justified. Meaning, our sin was either necessary for our salvation or it was not. No one will ever be excused of prematurely taking a life or committing any other sin.
This means that any person whose life ceases having not resulted in salvation (walking in the will of God) is found guilty of every sin they committed as unjustified. But any person who finds salvation and walks in God’s will at the time of their physical death is justified.
This is what New Testament writers tried to convey to us. It isn’t transgression of the law that condemns us, but the fact that even the consequences of transgressing the law did not lead us back to God. Every action and experience, including murder and death, must lead to a right relationship with God for it to be justified.
So, the real matter here is determining where we are in seeking God so that our character is more like His. Maintaining physical life at the expense of our own souls and the souls of others is contrary to Yah’s character!
Nonetheless, God is always in control! If certain people are driven to defend their lives at all costs, it’s because Yah is not done with them yet and He needs them to live as much as they want to live. So, be careful how you judge and how you instruct. Only Yahuwah truly knows who needs to live and who needs to die.
Still, never forget this one truth, an unrighteous person needs life more than a righteous one… So, be ready to be sacrificed for the unrighteous, just as Yahusha was!