Justice and Mercy

God’s Story For Your Life

Justice and Mercy
Deuteronomy 19:1-13
“When the LORD your God
destroys the nations whose land he is giving you, you
will take over their
land and settle in their towns and homes. Then you must
set apart three
cities of refuge in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Survey the territory, and divide the land the LORD your God is giving you into
districts, with one of these cities in each district. Then anyone who
killed someone can flee to one of the cities of refuge for safety.

someone kills another person unintentionally, without previous hostility,
slayer may flee to any of these cities to live in safety. For
suppose someone goes into the forest with a neighbor to cut wood.
And suppose
one of them swings an ax to chop down a tree, and the ax head
flies off the
handle, killing the other person. In such cases, the slayer may
flee to one of
the cities of refuge to live in safety.

“If the
distance to the nearest city of refuge is too far, an enraged avenger
might be able to chase down and kill the person who caused the death. Then the
slayer would die unfairly, since he had never shown hostility toward
person who died. That is why I am commanding you to set aside three
cities of

“And if the LORD your God enlarges your territory,
as he swore to your
ancestors, and gives you all the land he promised them,
you must designate
three additional cities of refuge. (He will give you this
land if you are
careful to obey all the commands I have given you—if you
always love the LORD
your God and walk in his ways.) That way you will
prevent the death of
innocent people in the land the LORD your God is giving
you as your special
possession. You will not be held responsible for the
death of innocent
people.” / (Deuteronomy

Every society must deal with the problem
of murder. But how should society
treat those who have innocently or
accidentally killed someone? God had an
answer for the Israelites. Since
revenge was common and swift in Moses’ day,
God had the Israelites set apart
several “cities of refuge.” Anyone who
claimed to have accidentally killed
someone could flee to one of these cities
until he or she could have a fair
trial. If the accused was found innocent of
murder, he or she could remain in
that city and be safe from those seeking
revenge. This provision is a
beautiful example of how God blended his justice
and mercy toward his

Today, we hear that a person is “innocent until proven guilty.”
That’s good,
but we don’t always act that way. Instead, we often assume the
worst about a
person. And we want to exact revenge. Here we learn that while
God expects
wrongdoing to be punished, it must be tempered with mercy. And at
all times,
the innocent should be protected.

lot of people call for justice at many levels in society and around
world. This is a good thing. But it can be easy to overlook the justice
mercy we need in our personal lives. Many of our relationships need
and mercy in them. If we ignore justice there, we cannot expect to
see justice
at broader levels. What justice and mercy do you need to bring
into your
personal life? Are there relationships you need to make right?

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