Summary: God's command against murder

Series: Big 10


EXODUS 20:13


A Sunday school teacher was discussing the 10 commandments with her 5 & 6 year olds. After explaining the commandment to “honor your father and mother,” she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Quickly, one of the kids answered, “Thou shalt not kill.”

We continue on in our series through the 10 Commandments called Big 10. We’re looking at commandment #6 in Ex. 20:13 – “You shall not murder.”

Today’s message is short by my usual standards. But before you start thinking about celebrating and heading out to the car to go to the restaurant for lunch, we’ve got some important things to talk about. This is a simple command but it has far-reaching implications. It’s a misunderstood command and often applied to things to which it doesn’t apply at all.

So, let’s join together here for a time of consideration and understand what God is saying. Let’s hear the words of Scripture in context to itself. Then let’s consider how this command is pertinent in our everyday lives.


The first category of things not included is animals. There are animal rights groups who point to the 1611 King James Version of the Bible that translates this commandment as, “Thou shalt not kill.” The word translated as “kill” in the KJV has a bit more specific sense than just kill. The closest word that we have in our English language is the word “murder.”

One of the things we have to do in our examination of this command is to see how the Bible references the precepts that are taught therein. We’ll do that with each category of things not included in this command,

Immediately following the receding of the flood waters, God gives Noah and his descendants (that’s us) this instruction in Gen. 9:3 – Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. When God gave instructions to the Hebrew people about how the 10 Commandments would be applied in the life of his covenant people, he told them in Deuteronomy 14 and Leviticus 11 about what animals they could and could not eat. I’m not going to recite the entire list but it includes beef, deer, fish, and fowl.

I used to hunt some when I was younger. I can’t remember the last time I did go hunting –

unless you count the time I shot my first turkey. It sure scared all the people in the frozen food section Hunting is not something that I do anymore but that’s simply because I choose not to do so at this point in my life. If you are a hunter or a fisherman and you help feed your family or others through these endeavors, you’re doing something good and you’re doing that’s sanctioned by God.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I am not making an endorsement for abuse and cruelty. I believe those things are very wrong and it angers me greatly when I see someone abuse an animal or see the results from abusing an animal. My point is that you can’t use this verse to say trhat we should all be vegans.

The second category of things not included in this commandment is capital punishment. Anytime someone is sentenced to die by our court system and their execution is immanent, there will be scores of protesters outside of the prison facility denouncing what will take place. Some of these people believe they are following the sixth commandment. Are they right? Does God see capital punishment as a violation of this command? Not according to his own Word – the Bible.

When God gave his covenant to Noah to never again destroy the earth by a flood – a covenant under which we still operate – God said in Gen. 9:6 –“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” In the time immediately following the giving of the 10 Commandments, God gave this instruction in Ex. 21:12 – Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death.

Exodus 21 lists other crimes that are considered as capital crimes. Attacking your parents or being consistently disrespectful to them could draw the death penalty. Some of us need to be thankful that we don’t do it that way today. Some of us would no longer be here.

Kidnapping is also listed as a capital crime. In other sections of the Old Testament law, various sexual sins, like rape, incest, and homosexual behavior were capital crimes. So to say that God is against capital punishment of any kin d is wrong.

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