Deuteronomy 21

Deuteronomy 21

Deuteronomy 21 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

How many today take responsibility for their errors? It seems everywhere we turn, we see people playing the blame game. When people are determined to be right and have things their way at all costs, they will go to any extreme to preserve their reputation. It’s almost a given that arrogant, stubborn people will never own their failures. In the information age of social media, it’s rare to see someone take responsibility for their own actions, let alone, someone else’s.

This is all really a shame considering that Jesus Christ laid down His life in order to take responsibility for something that wasn’t His. He took our punishment and made it His punishment. He took our death and made it His death. Standing between the Father and the rebels, the Son was obedient to what was required of Him. It’s shocking.

Here in Deuteronomy 21, we follow a similar theme. Sins must be paid for and responsibility must be taken. In the case of someone found murdered in a field, the city leaders and judges in closest proximity were to take care of this dead body. One would think this is enough, however, they weren’t done yet. They were to also break a heifer’s neck and wash their hands over the animal. This was not for the atonement of sin but was a sign marking this horrendous crime for which there was no clear responsible party.

Furthermore, the leaders were to then required to ask for forgiveness.

Then all the leaders from the town nearest the place where the murdered person was found are to wash their hands over the cow 7 and say, ‘We did not murder this one, and we do not know who did it. 8 LORD, forgive your people Israel, whom you rescued from Egypt. Forgive us and do not hold us responsible for the murder of an innocent person.’ 9 And so, by doing what the LORD requires, you will not be held responsible for the murder.

Deuteronomy 21:6-9 GNB

The crime occurred on God’s land, therefore, the plea for forgiveness included the entire nation. Justice would be served one way or another. Either the crime was solved and the individual was brought to justice, or, this ritual was performed and the nation was forgiven. It is striking to remember that God sees all and knows all. The sins of our generation will either be punished by God or forgiven by the blood of Christ. There is no sin that will go unseen or unheard by our Father.

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