Summary: Consideration of the value of human life and ways in which it is devalued by murder.
Don’t You Believe It!: Our Lives Are Not Our Own
Evening, January 21, 2001
Pastor Don Walker
In his autobiography, "Number 1", Billy Martin told about hunting in Texas with Mickey Mantle. Mickey had a friend who would let them hunt on his ranch. When they reached the ranch, Mickey told Billy to wait in the car while he checked in with his friend. Mantle’s friend quickly gave them permission to hunt, but he asked Mickey a favor. He had a pet mule in the barn who was going blind, and he didn’t have the heart to put him out of his misery. He asked Mickey to shoot the mule for him. When Mickey came back to the car, he pretended to be angry. He scowled and slammed the door. Billy asked him what was wrong, and Mickey said his friend wouldn’t let them hunt. "I’m so mad at that guy," Mantle said, "I’m going out to his barn and shoot one of his mules!" Mantle drove like a maniac to the barn. Martin protested, "We can’t do that!" But Mickey was adamant. "Just watch me," he shouted. When they got to the barn, Mantle jumped out of the car with his rifle, ran inside, and shot the mule. As he was leaving, though, he heard two shots, and he ran back to the car. He saw that Martin had taken out his rifle, too. "What are you doing, Martin?" he yelled. Martin yelled back, face red with anger, "We’ll show that son of a gun! I just killed two of his cows!" 1
We need to be careful in following the path some people make. Either intentionally or unintentionally, we can be misled. The example we choose, the rules we live our lives by, and who we look to as the source of real and ultimate truth can have a positive or detrimental effect on our lives. That’s the reason we’ve been looking at the Ten Commandments the last several weeks.
As Christians, we know that keeping the Ten Commandments will not heal our broken relationship with God. But we also know that God gives truth so that our lives may be more full, happy, and stable. God’s commandments are wisdom for us; they lead us in living worthwhile lives that glorify God. By following them we are taking a good sensible path for living.
A number of years ago, a third-grade teacher was teaching the Ten Commandments to her class in school. She was discussing the commandment regarding honoring one’s father and mother. Then she asked, "Is there any command regarding brothers and sisters?" One young girl raised her hand and said, "Thou shalt not kill." Tonight, we’re looking at the Sixth Commandment: "You shall not murder."
Most people would think that they have no problem in keeping this one. I¡¦ve never murdered anyone and I really can¡¦t conceive of any situation in which I would want to. I¡¦m sure you feel the same way. However, you probably have already guessed, it’s not really all that simple. I would like for us to consider the value of human life and ways in which it is devalued by murder.
The Value of Human Life
In much of the history of the world, human life was cheap and under-appreciated.
When this commandment was given human sacrifice was common. At times, parents would even sacrifice their own children. It was a demand of their gods and as unthinkable as it is to us, people complied without reservation.
In addition the Israelites had recently been freed from Egyptian slavery. Any culture that justifies enslaving people, obviously doesn¡¥t value human life. Because of their position, slaves would not be fed well or given medical attention (even though it was primitive).
Human beings were usually viewed by the powerful as a renewable resource. The powerful had mineral resources, coal or precious metals and they had their human resources. The only difference was that humans could have babies, thus, they were a renewable resource and could be expendable.
That’s picture of the world back then -as well as in many places and in many times since then.
Into this kind of world God introduces the idea that human life is valuable.
God declares that people are worth something other than what they produce, the work they do, or the offspring they bear. In fact, people have value even if they do none of these things.
God commands His people: ¡§Do not murder.¡¨
The command is specific in prohibition to murder. The KJV translates this as ¡§kill¡¨. The Hebrew verb here carries with it the ideas of premeditation and the intention to end a life. The command cannot be used as a prohibition against all types of killing: it is a forceful ban on the unjust taking of human life.