Murder and Hate: Exodus 20:13

Murder and Hate: Exodus 20:13

Dec 28, 2015

Murder and Hate: Exodus 20:13

Sermon Series by Pastor Dusty Mackintosh

Next Step Christian Church, Thornton, CO


Story of Hate and Murder

So there I was, minding my business when Jono picked up a metal spoon from the ivy, threw it at me, and hit me between the eyes.

Now three things about this story so far. Jono may argue that I was not minding my business, but was beating him or persecuting him in some way. I contend, that as the older brother, persecuting him was my business.

Second, our house was the kind of house where one could find a gigantic metal spoon out in the ivy.

Third, he was probably about 100 feet away. Like, he picks up a giant spoon…you don’t acknowledge that as a threat, it’s more like a magic trick. And he throws it…still not a threat, it’s a flailing act of desperation.

And then…it hits me. Between the eyes. That is often like a metaphor. But actually, getting hit by a giant metal spoon between the eyes hurts SO BAD.

Jono, little brother, is amazed at what he has done. Then he thinks about the consequences of what he has done. And then he flees…about a quarter mile, maybe half a mile down the street. And there he stays. He is afraid that I am going to murder him — that I am filled with murderous hate.

When he creeps back (an hour later), what will he find?


Two representative stone tablets with the ten commandments inscribed on them on an isolated dark ethereal background


Exodus 20:13: You shall not murder.

Murder vs. Kill

Now in the back of many of our minds, we remember the quote differently.

The KJV says “kill.” Back in 1611, the word “kill” had a slightly different sense and was closer to the word murder. In modern English, saying “thou shall not kill” gives the entirely wrong sense. This is about murder, plain and simple. We will see the very clear distinction in the way different scenarios are handled.

But the distinction is absolutely critical. To be frank, God has just killed a whole lot of humans in Egypt and in the escape from Egypt. Probably hundreds of thousands. He is leading the people of Israel to “take possession” of the Promised Land… which to a large extent means killing a whole lot of people. God is about to give a whole bunch of commands, many of which incur the death penalty. We could expect a certain casualness towards murder.

But God says “Never murder”

Life as God’s

This is not the first time He said it. Back with Cain and Abel, He punished Cain for murder. When Noah and his family climbed out of the ark, he gave a really clear command against murder… and a really clear explanation of why. That is helpful:

Whoever sheds human blood,

by humans shall their blood be shed;

for in the image of God

has God made mankind.

— Genesis 9:6

So there is the idea of the sacredness of human life, because of the image of God. I think the greater emphasis is on the ownership of human life. God made…and so God owns. God made you and He owns you.

God is the author and owner of human life. He gives and takes life as He chooses. When His authority or delegated authority is in play, as it will be in government and the coming holy war, killing is okey-dokey.

That seriously offends our modern sensibilities. It may help to see death from God’s perspective. We see it as an end; God sees it as a transformation of substance, a change, and one He has complete control over. But by lightning bolt, old age or human hand by his direction, our lives are always in His hand.

Murder requires contempt of God’s possession and image of the human being.

Murder offends both of these ideas. The Hebrew word is focused on killings for selfish and unsanctioned reasons.

Murder requires contempt of God’s possession and image of the human being.

In order to kill someone, you have to set aside the idea that

he is sacred in the image of God. And you have to set aside the idea that his life is God’s possession.

Cities of Refuge

This is all very clearly demonstrated in the Cities of Refuge God sets up in the Land of Israel. This is an odd concept. Six cities are set up as cities of Refuge. If you accidentally kill someone, you can flee to them, and the family (who now probably hate you) are not allowed to kill you as long as you are in the city of refuge.


Deuteronomy 19:4-6, 11-13

4 “This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past — 5 as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies — he may flee to one of these cities and live.

By contrast, if someone murdered someone, even if he fled to

a City of Refuge, it was an entirely different story:

11 “But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.

What is the dividing line? What is the actual difference between these two?

…without having hated him…

…if anyone hates his neighbor…

Same action. Same effect. They would have a trial and the elders would ask this question: did the killer hate his neighbor? If so, death; if not, refuge and sanctuary.

The root of murder is hate.

And what is hate? Hate is sustained anger. Hate is anger stretched out over time.

The root of murder is hate, anger stretched out over time.

It was always about the heart.

So we see that this commandment, never murder, was always about the heart. It was always about the heart in Leviticus 19, which sounds like a familiar New Testament passage.

Leviticus 19:17-18

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Now those sound a lot like Jesus’ famous words, sound like the second half of the Great Commandments: Love the Lord, your God…and love your neighbor as yourself. That was what Jesus was quoting.

Right there we see the heart of murder: Hate. Hate wedded to action is murder. We understand that quite often the difference between hate and action in murder is more of opportunity and means than self-control. If I have contempt, and I have hate, murder is just a question of time and opportunity.

This guy, Jesus, nailed this one. Best commentary ever on the Ten Commandments, he got a lot of things just spot on, that Jesus. Good stuff. He dives right to the heart of murder:

Matthew 5:21-22

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be

liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

We have hate, anger in the heart, anger stretched out over time. And we have contempt, calling your brother “Raca,” a contemptuous insult. And then we have “You fool,” wedding hate and contempt. “You fool,” by the way, used to sound a lot harsher. What the translators really want to say, and I have this from one of the NIV translators, is “you bastard!” Or other ‘B’ words. That is really the sense here — offensive, angry and contemptuous all together.

Isn’t that the heart of murder? Hate and contempt. It is hate that motivates me to end you. It is contempt for you, your life, and maybe the consequences. It is contempt that gives permission to end you. Contempt for the image of God in you and contempt for the fact that you are His.

The Antidote to Murder

So how do we do this? How do we stop murdering? How do

we stop hating? We don’t get to stop people doing things that make us angry. We also don’t really get to stop or control our emotional reactions. The Spirit does that within us…but how do we participate, how do we heal from hate, what does

repentance and change look like.

What does righteousness look like? The whole point of the Ten Commandments is to teach us righteousness: to teach us to Love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Fortunately for us, the greatest teacher gave us some practical application. Immediately after Jesus pierced straight to the heart of the commandment, the hate and contempt at the heart of murder, he says this:

Matthew 5:23-24

23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Elevate reconciliation to a ridiculous level. Escalate reconciliation.

This is not a new law but a model of how important reconciliation becomes to the Kingdom heart. Reconciliation gets elevated over worship. That is huge!

He goes on to say, on your way to the courthouse when getting sued, the Kingdom person is the kind of person who, even then, is still seeking reconciliation! You’re not even the one with the hate issue in these scenarios! You just remember, maybe you just suspect, that you have offended a brother such that they might be hating you, holding something against you.

“Well, that’s their problem, they’ll have to work that out. That’s between them and God, I did what I had to do…” That’s what we say.

Elevate reconciliation. Escalate reconciliation.

What if I have something against them, do I wait for them to obey this commandment, already? No! Jesus holds up the harder model as the example. The kind of Kingdom person who does that is so much quicker to seek reconciliation when he is the one with the hate and contempt — quick to forgive, quick to seek forgiveness.

The antidote to hate is reconciliation: for you and in you; for others toward you. Loving your neighbor as yourself means that, as desperately as you want that person who wronged you to come and acknowledge and beg your forgiveness, you go and reconcile yourselves to any who have something against you. It depends on you: as far as you can go towards humbling yourself; taking responsibility for anything you can; listening for and searching out those you may have wronged; and certainly, forgiving those who have wronged you.

You excise hate and contempt from your heart. Or rather, the Holy Spirit cuts it out of you. This is the process by which He does so: you are saved and sanctified by the blood of Jesus —hate and contempt have no hold on you; you have the divinely gifted ability to search out relationships where hate and contempt may grow — within you or within others toward you; you have the divinely gifted ability to offer the ministry of Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Restoration. Hope.

Reconciliation Among Us

It starts among us. The focus here has been on your brother. If you cannot love your brother whom you can see, how can you love God whom you cannot see? If you hold hate and contempt towards your brother…or if you even suspect you have done something to a sister that just might foster hate and contempt toward you…find them. Seek them out. Seek reconciliation.

“I am sorry, I think I said something that offended you.”

“Please forgive me, I acted thoughtlessly.”

It is important enough that, if something has occurred to you, you should get up now and go make a phone call. Go, drive, and have a conversation.

Elevate reconciliation. Escalate reconciliation.

Do this so that all might know that we are disciples of Jesus, the greatest Man who ever lived, the greatest Lover who ever lived, the greatest Forgiver who ever lived, the greatest Reconciler who ever lived, who is our Righteousness.

We become a people among whom there is no murder, no hate and no contempt…only transformative love.

Clip to Evernote