Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XXXIX: Blessing By Valuing Human Life Even In Accidental Manslaughter Cases
(Numbers 35:16-34)
  1. Introduction
    1. When God created man from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life, man was said to be valuable in spite of his origins from dust as he was "made in God's image," Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7.
    2. Thus, the taking of human life, even if it was accidental, was a grave violation against God, and how the Lord had Israel handle even accidental killings reveals the value of God's image in man as follows:
  2. Blessing By Valuing Human Life Even In Accidental Manslaughter Cases, Numbers 35:16-34.
    1. When God established the cities of refuge for the sake of fugitives who claimed they had accidentally killed someone, He prescribed exacting laws of justice for them, Numbers 35:6a,b, 16a.
    2. In the process, He revealed the need for man to value human life in His image whether someone accidentally killed another human being, or if he did so with malice (as follows) (Numbers 35:16-34):
      1. If a party fled into a city of refuge, claiming accidentally to have slain another, and a relative of the victim who would in that culture usually want to avenge the death of the victim would pursue the fugitive to the same city, the people of that city of refuge were to presume the fugitive was innocent until proven guilty, and protect him from the avenger until they had tried the fugitive, Num. 35:22-25.
      2. Now, that trial of the fugitive was to be performed with exacting justice as follows:
        1. First, the avenger would bring charges against the manslayer, necessitating a trial, Numbers 35:24.
        2. Second, at the trial, the avenger was to produce at least two witnesses to prove his case, 35:30.
        3. Third, the fugitive had to be judged to have caused the death of the victim by some means, whether with an object either held by the accused, or pushed or dropped by the accused upon the victim or by the accused party's fist if performed with hostile intent, Numbers 35:16-21.
        4. Fourth, if the fugitive was judged to be guilty this way by the judging body at the city of refuge involved, he was to be turned over to the avenger to be executed by him, Numbers 35:19, 21b.
        5. Fifth, however, if the fugitive was judged to be innocent, several conditions applied for the fugitive to enjoy extended protection: (a) once cleared of the charge of murder, the fugitive was allowed to live ((a)) providing he stayed within the city of refuge's city limits ((b)) until the death of the current high priest, Numbers 35:25. (b) Yet, if the fugitive who had been cleared of murder were ever to leave the confines of the city's walls before the death of the current high priest, the avenger of blood could kill him and be innocent of murder, 35:26-28. These provisions caused the fugitive to FACE the fact that, although he was innocent of murder due to the fact that his victim died accidentally, HE was to note the SERIOUSNESS of his DEED in that it involved killing one in God's image, and thus heed the stiff restrictions placed upon him regarding his confines and time in the city as a SIGN of his REMORSE at the KILLING. FAILURE to respect his required time in the city and his confinement during the required time would show the fugitive DISRESPECTED the life he had taken, and cause him to forfeit his right to life!
        6. Sixth, God prescribed the judging assembly was to value human life by not allowing its judgment to be affected by bribery: (a) bribery offered by the guilty was to be rejected, Numbers 35:31; (b) bribery offered by one found to be innocent by trial so he could return to his city before the death of the high priest was to be refused: the assembly was to value the life that had been even accidentally taken to where they would not let the fugitive leave the city prematurely, 35:32.
        7. In these steps, God spoke of not polluting the land with injustice regarding the taking of human life: failure to heed these directives polluted the land where the holy God lived in Israel, Num. 35:33-34. Hence, human life had value as human life was constituted in the image of Almighty God.
Lesson: Human life is VALUABLE as it exists in God's image: thus, the loss of ANY human life is to result in appropriate REMORSE, and ESPECIALLY so if that loss came by ACCIDENTAL means!

Application: God wants us to view EVERY human life as being VERY valuable, and to TREAT one another as valuable, for we are ALL made in His divine image!