Summary: Because people matter to God, they must matter to us.

Murder in my Mouth

Exodus 20:13

Rev. Brian Bill


A little more than a week ago our country was reminded again how murder causes mayhem and shakes us to our core. In this premeditated and raw disregard for life, a man murdered twelve people and injured dozens more. Indeed, it was a “Dark Knight” for all of us.

We live in a “culture of death,” with over 17,000 known murders every year. The day after the Colorado shootings, The Chicago Tribune email newsletter began like this: “One dead, seventeen wounded in attacks across the city.” This sort of thing happens in Chicago routinely and no longer shocks us. As of this past Thursday, in July alone, 27 people have been murdered in Chicago – over twice the number of the Aurora assassinations. There have been more murders 100 miles from us this year than there have been deaths among U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan during the same time period.

Have you noticed that murder has become a central source of entertainment in our society? According to Philip Ryken, “By the time the average child finishes elementary school, he or she has watched 8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of on-screen violence.” Video games look so life-like that those who play them get the sensation of actually killing someone. One pastor points out how this affects us: “further numbing them to the downward spiral of a decadent society, and taking away the horror of unlawful killings.” Apparently a computer game developer has made a Columbine game containing actual footage inside the school, including the crime scene. Those who play the game can make decisions as to who to murder and who they will let live.

I found it fascinating this week that Harvey Weinstein -- the man behind some of the most violent movies to ever hit the big screen -- says it’s time for Hollywood to address how violence in movies influences people. Speaking to The Huffington Post, he called for a filmmaker summit: ‘I think as filmmakers we should sit down…hopefully all of us who deal in violence in movies – and discuss our role in that.”

In an article appearing in the August 3rd edition of The Hollywood Reporter magazine, legendary movie director Peter Bogdanovich went much further, saying violence in film is “out of control.” “Violence on the screen has increased tenfold. It’s almost pornographic. In fact, it is pornographic. Video games are violent, too. It’s all out of control. I can see where it would drive somebody crazy.”

I hope they make those changes but I’m not going to hold my breath. Having said all that, when we come to the Sixth Commandment we lament the loss of life around us while at the same time most of us breathe a sigh of relief because we don’t think this prohibition applies to us. Listen to Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder.” Very few of us are murderers, right?

Before we get too far, let’s review the Commandments we’ve been learning in consecutive order. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says that these commands are to be inscribed on our hearts so that we can impress them upon our children.

I was very moved this week when talking to a young dad who told me that he has taught these commands to his three-year-old son and he can now recite them using his fingers! Way to go, dad!

1: Hold up one pointer finger - point to the sky (one God; no other gods)

2: Hold up two pointer fingers – have one bow before the other (no idols)

3: Hold up three fingers – place over mouth (don’t take God’s name in vain)

4: Hold up four fingers – place on cheek as if to nap (Sabbath rest)

5: Hold up five fingers – place hand over heart (honor parents)

6: Hold up five fingers on one hand and the pointer finger of your other hand – turn pointer finger into a “gun” and aim at the other hand (don’t murder)

7: Hold up five fingers on one hand and the pointer and middle finger on the other – intertwine them by putting the middle one over the pointer to show that they are bonded together (no adultery)

8: Hold up four fingers on one hand and four on the other – using one hand grab the other four fingers (no stealing)

9. Hold up four fingers on one hand and five on the other – move the four up and down as they face the five to show that they are lying or bearing false witness about others (no lying)

10. Hold up five fingers on each hand – pull fingers toward you (no coveting)

Let’s make some observations.

1. This is the shortest verse in Old Testament. The text is terse, with only two words in the Hebrew, literally translated, “No murdering.”

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