But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT AND MESSIAH
“Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13)
The Hebrew word for “kill” in Exodus 20:13 is “ratzach”. It means “murder”. Our Lord Jesus quoted it that way in Matthew 19:18 when he said, “...thou shalt do no murder....” What is the difference between “kill” and “murder”?
“Kill,” means any taking of life. “Murder” means PREMEDITATED, UNLAWFUL taking of life. ”Murder” is killing WITHOUT ANY COMMAND OR PERMISSION FROM GOD. God creates life. It can only be taken on God's terms. Anything else is murder.
THE THOUGHT IS FATHER TO THE DEED
The thought is often father to the deed. Thus, our Lord Jesus taught that we should guard against undue anger and contempt for others. These attitudes can easily lead to murder.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
MESSIAH AND WAR
War involves killing. In many cases, war is unjustified and the killings are murder. But, in other cases, the fight may be a just war. The killings are not murder. Our Lord Jesus was not a pacifist. He believed in the just use of force. He forcibly cleansed the Temple twice.
In His parables, He spoke with approval of rulers who used force against the wicked. The following two verses are taken from parables designed to teach the truth of His Second Coming. In both, He speaks of just force to be used against evildoers.
“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:27)
“He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others.” (Luke 20:18)
This is the same picture of our Lord's Second Coming given to us by the Apostle Paul (2 Thessalonians) and the Apostle John (Revelation 19).
“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8)
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” (Revelation 19:11)
MESSIAH AND SOLDIERS
Our Lord Jesus never condemned Israel's use of force in Old Testament times. He never spoke against Abraham, Joshua, the Judges and David for the use of force. He never taught that countries should disarm.
He never told soldiers to leave the military. He never said it was morally wrong to be a soldier. Our Lord Jesus never condemned the Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) or the Jewish Zealot (Luke 6:15). Neither did His forerunner, John the Baptist (Luke 3:14).
TURN THE OTHER CHEEK
Statements like “resist not evil” “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” are often cited as proof that the Lord Jesus was a pacifist. They all come from His Sermon on the Mount. But to properly understand these statements, several points should be kept in mind.
1. Messiah began His Sermon on the Mount by assuring His followers that He had NOT come to destroy the Law and the Prophets (Old Testament). Rather the Law of God would remain in force until Heaven and Earth pass away (Matthew 5:17-19).
2. Messiah is contrasting the inner spirituality of the Law with the traditions of Rabbinic Judaism that had arisen long after Moses (Matthew 5:20). These traditions (some are preserved in the Talmud) often contradicted the Law of Moses (Mark 7:1-13).
3. Messiah is teaching personal ethics -- how we should respond to our neighbors when they become a source of irritation to us. He rules out personal vengeance, as did the Law.
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)
AN EYE FOR AN EYE
“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” originally meant, “make the punishment fit the crime” in a court of law (Exodus 21:22-25). But it had degenerated into a pretext for taking personal vengeance -- a tit for tat mentality -- that contradicted Leviticus 19:18.
This is why our Lord Jesus began Matthew 5:38 with “Ye have heard that it hath been said.” He was contrasting rabbinic tradition with the true meaning of the Law of God. When He quoted Scripture to Satan, He said, “It is written...” (Matthew 4:4).
But He did NOT say, “It is written ... but I say unto you” in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Why? He was not correcting Scripture. He was not annulling the Law of God. Rather, He was condemning wrong interpretations of the Law found in rabbinic Judaism.
It would be wrong to take our Lord's statements out of context and apply them to the Church or the State. The Church has an obligation to punish an offending, unrepentant member by excommunication (Matthew 18:17 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-5).
The State has an obligation to punish evildoers, even to the point of death (Romans 13:1-4). Our Lord is not discussing what to do if our family is threatened. Rather, He is simply saying that we should not explode in anger when we are insulted.
A slap on the cheek is an insult. It is not life threatening. We should not overreact. “Resist not evil” in this context means, “don't avenge yourself”. We are to resist the devil (James 4:7) and heretics (Titus 1:9-11). Thus “resist not evil” is not an unqualified, blanket statement.
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
When Messiah began His Sermon on the Mount, He said such things as, “Blessed are meek” and “Blessed are the peacemakers”. Moses was described as meek (Numbers 12:3).
But “meek” does not mean “weak.” Rather, it means having the attitude of a servant.
Moses was a strong, aggressive leader. He was involved in warfare. He invoked the death penalty. Thus, “Blessed are the meek” does not mean that either Moses or Messiah were pacifists.
The Greek word “peacemaker” was one of Caesar's titles. He had won the title by use of force. Thus, the title “peacemaker” carries the idea of “peace through strength”. Peace with God and fellow men can only be found through personal faith in Jesus the Messiah.
Thus the real “peacemakers” are not Obama, Kerry, the Pope or the United Nations. The true peacemakers are those who proclaim the glad tidings, the good news, the Gospel of peace through our Lord Jesus Christ (John 20:21 and Ephesians 2:13-22).
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1)
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15)
George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows Lamb of God. He and his wife, Christy, have been married 41 years (in 2018). They have 8 grown children. You can contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2002 through 2018 by George Theiss