Scripture: Exodus 21:12 Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death. 13 If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee. 14 But if someone willfully attacks and kills another by treachery, you shall take the killer from my altar for execution. 15 Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death. 16 Whoever kidnaps a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death. 17 Whoever curses father or mother shall be put to death.
Observation: This passage is part of an entire section of Exodus that gives the laws by which God’s people are to live. From a 21st century point of view, the punishments are draconian. Yet, the irony is that punishments are severe because our God places great value on life, especially human life.
Application: There are peoples around the world who think America is weak because we place such a high value on human life. During WWII, American soldiers taken prisoner in the Pacific theatre were terribly mistreated because they had surrendered – which Japanese soldiers viewed as cowardly. My maternal grandfather Richard was among the American prisoners. The two nations, America and Japan, had very different value systems related to human life.
Same with the Russians in the European theatre. Russian commanders didn’t bother to clear minefields when marching toward Berlin. They simply sent in their ground troops to trip the mines ahead of the precious tanks, which were considered far more valuable than soldiers. Russian casualties were so shockingly high (far greater than all other WWII combatants combined) in part because their commanders had such little regard for human life, even Russian lives.
Today, Islamist terrorists think our desire to preserve the lives of our soldiers is a strategic military disadvantage compared to their side – which views martyrdom as desirable. You may wonder, why DO we place such a high value on life? It’s because we take our cues from the Lord, who sees every human life as precious. I hope we never change.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are the creator of all life. Each person is precious in your sight. Give us grace to see people as you see them, and to treat them accordingly. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.