when i was a baby, and brand new to the universe, i had specific things i could and couldn’t do.
i couldn’t walk, or run, or feed myself, or even not pee myself.
i didn’t need rules, i wasn’t aware enough to understand them.
this is sorta like adam and eve.
eventually, i grew up enough to need rules, but i needed VERY black and white ones: “do not play in the street”, “do NOT play with matches”, “never touch the stove”
these rules were for my own safety as i was not able to discern the difference between a “hot stove” and a “cool stove”, so the rule needed to be “NEVER”.
eventually, i grew up enough to understand the difference, and no rule was needed at all: i could tell for myself when to touch, and not touch, a stove, and it wasn’t because my parents say so, but because i understand enough about the universe and how it works to WANT to do the right thing.
this is roughly, i believe, similar to the OT and NT.
as we humans learned more and more about god, and eventually as jesus came and revealed god’s true ideas for our lives, we no longer needed “rules” as we now had enough knowledge about him to make informed decisions — ones that are good in their own right, and not just because “I SAID SO”.
at the time of early genesis, people were living almost 1,000 years — and a person who “got a taste for blood”, as it were, was able to do a LOT of “damage” — killing hundreds or multiple perhaps thousands of people.
people, before the flood, if you’ll recall, got to the point where their thoughts were “always on evil all the time” and, this was at a time when one of god’s main commands was to fill the earth.
recall, too, when able and cain had thier little altercation:
Genesis 4:8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, â€œWhere is Abel your brother?â€ He said, â€œI do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?â€ 10 And the Lord said, â€œWhat have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.â€ 13 Cain said to the Lord, â€œMy punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.â€ 15 Then the Lord said to him, â€œNot so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.â€ And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
clearly, able was *so scared* of being killed, that god put some mark on him that told the other humans not to kill him.
it seems that murder was a HUGE problem, when people were supposed to be populating the planet.
so, god “started over” — and limited human’s lifespan to 120 years or so, and gave strict instructions about killing:
Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
6 â€œWhoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.â€
so — we have, now, a new instruction from god that each death now requires a reckoning, where it did not before.
let’s jump the 15,000 or so years between gen 9 and the time of jesus: who paid the price for all man’s sin.
because of that sacrifice, a man who murders is able to be accepted by god, because god himself gave his own life as the recckoning.
if i murder, and then come to christ, and enter the kingdom of heaven, the penalty i would pay for the blood i shed becomes paid by jesus, rather than me.
god knew full well i would shed that blood, and gave himself up as the reckoning anyway.
my life was bought for a price!
now: when it comes down to the death penalty, then, i believe that in light of all of this, it is better to give a man or woman their entire natural lifespan to come to the creator and ask forgiveness.
if we send them to an early grave, we are doing to them what god was unwilling to do to us.
now, let me sum up:
god has been bringing humans along on a journey towards him — teaching us slowly, ever since we were booted from the garden, how to live in harmony with him again.
it has been a SLOW journey, as we are a stiff-necked people.
as we have learned more and more than human life is precious, and as we have stopped having murder as our number one way to go, or put another way, as we have matured as a people, the rules concerning how to deal with murder has been able to “relaxed” in such a way that we can recognize the life even of a murderer is precious in god’s site.
(remember, earlier in our history it seems NO ONE’s life was sacred)
i think god sent jesus at just the right time — teaching us a new way, a better way, than we were ready for with the law, and i believe jesus’ own words make this plain.