Moses answers my question from before about murders where there wasn’t an eye witness. God calls for all those around the incident to answer for it.
Blood still had to be shed to atone for the blood of the slain person. God required blood for blood, eye for an eye, hand for a hand and foot for a foot. This was the reason behind the avenger of blood. But the avenger doesn’t know who to go after in this account. There is no one to punish.
Under God’s instructions, the city that is closest to the scene of the crime accepts responsibility for atoning for the shed blood. A heifer taken from that city stands in the place of the murder’s blood. Innocent blood atones for the innocent blood already spilled.
All the elders of the city that was assigned responsibility for the murdered man have to testify that they didn’t commit this crime nor witness it. These vows have to be made before the priests. I would venture to guess that if one of them were lying that God would reveal it. I can think of several ways that God could reveal this deception. He could do anything from speaking to the priest to striking the man dead. He could also give him a slow death through disease or a huge burden of guilt. Just some ideas.
Something else I wonder about with this situation. Would they conduct an investigation like we do now? Would they question the neighbors? Ascertain who was the last one to see the man alive. What if they discovered the murderer after the ceremony with the heifer? Would they still be able to require the murderer’s blood as payment? If they did investigate, how long would they look?
It is hard to imagine the family moving on without an answer. I know there are unsolved crimes in our world now, even with all our advances in detective sciences. I imagine the investigations that happened in bible days would be much simpler than they are today. Unless there was some kind of unique evidence at the scene I don’t know how they would be able to find the perpetrator.
I wonder why they didn’t ask God to point out the guilty party. We know He is capable of that. We will be encountering one story where He does exactly that as the children of Israel begin their campaign of conquest in the Promised Land.
I have a feeling God not pointing out the guilty party has something to do with His law regarding two or three witnesses. God’s witness stands above ALL others but who is to say that someone wouldn’t try and speak for God and it not be the truth. “Better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer” (William Blackstone).
Jesus paid the blood penalty for ALL sin. We have all been guilty of one sin or another over the course of our lives and He paid the price for these. But we have to ask for and receive His atoning sacrifice. I doubt the person who commits murder is among those who have accepted His gift. They may turn to Him later and repent of their actions. Yet His blood paid the ransom for innocent blood even before they asked for forgiveness.
Father God, there have been so many innocent people killed over the centuries. Innocent blood is being shed on an all-time high with abortion. We can’t “wash our hands” and say we didn’t do it and didn’t see it. I know this isn’t the same thing You were talking about in my reading today but this is where my heart went.
I pray for ALL victims of unsolved crime. I pray for the families who don’t have answers. I thank You that You know the truth and WILL call the guilty to account. I trust You to bring about justice; Your righteous judgment. I leave all the slain in You hands, including the unborn.