Monday marks the 45th year of the Roe v. Wade decision and legalized abortions in the United States. Are we — you and I — accountable for the millions and millions of unborn babies murdered in our land since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973? Estimates place the number at more than 60 million! Are we accountable even if we did not directly contribute to a single abortion? While many would like to think, “No,” a principle laid out in Old Testament civil law makes me think otherwise.
So that you understand what I’m saying, let me explain that the Old Testament contains three basic types of law: 1) The moral law which was written on man’s heart at creation and is summarized in the Ten Commandments and other passages of Scripture as a reminder to us fallen creatures of what God requires of all people of all time; 2) The civil law which set forth specific applications of God’s moral law for the nation of Israel and dictated punishments for those who violated those laws; and 3) The worship law of Israel, which spelled out the requirements for Old Testament Israel’s worship of the Lord God, including sacrifices, feast days, festivals and the Sabbath observance.
For example, Old Testament civil law required the death penalty for those whose ox crushed or gored someone to death if they knew their ox tended to push and gore but did not keep such a dangerous animal safely penned or tied (Exodus 21:28-29). It also required the building of parapets around the roofs of their homes to prevent someone from accidentally falling off a roof and being hurt or killed (Deuteronomy 22:8). While we are not required to have the exact same laws and punishments for such things today, the principle remains that God desires to protect human life — life which He created — and holds us accountable for the shedding of innocent blood and not protecting human life. Even before the Ten Commandments were given on Mt. Sinai, God held Cain responsible for his brother’s death (Genesis 4) and required death for those who committed murder (Genesis 9:5-6).
This brings me to the passage in question, Deuteronomy 21:1-9. Though it was civil law for Israel and includes worship law (a sacrifice), it sets forth a principle regarding accountability for the shedding of innocent blood: “If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him: then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain: and it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke; and the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer’s neck there in the valley: and the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried: and all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: and they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.”
While no such commandment for the sacrifice of a heifer is required of us today — a lot of heifers would have to be killed if it was — an important principle is set forth for us to note. Even though the people did not commit the murder, God held them accountable for not bringing the murderer to justice. Had they seen or known of the crime, they would have been required to put the murderer to death (Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 21:12; Leviticus 24:17). But even though they did not know who had committed the murder, the people and nation were still accountable — thus, the heifer was killed, an oath was taken they knew nothing of the crime and atonement was made for their failure to punish the murderer.
Certainly, God takes very seriously the shedding of innocent blood. He created man in His image and continues to form and give life to each human being in the womb (cf. Genesis 2:7; Psalm 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5), and He holds us accountable to protect each human life He has given.
Now apply this principle to the murders of today. Our land is full of bloodshed and very few receive the punishment God commanded from the book of Genesis onward. And consider the millions of unborn children God was forming in the womb who have been legally murdered in the U.S. since the Roe v. Wade decision. Who is responsible?
Obviously, the mothers seeking the abortions and the doctors and clinicians performing the abortions are guilty of shedding innocent blood and destroying God-given human life. Their punishment under Old Testament law was death. Oh, that they might repent and receive mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ and not suffer the eternal consequences of their sins!
But what about the rest of us who know the murders are taking place and have not risen up to stop this horrific crime against human life — a crime which exceeds the Holocaust of Nazi Germany and the killing of millions by dictators in communist and socialist regimes? Are we innocent? Were the German people innocent of what took place there under rulers they placed in power?
The principle of Deuteronomy 21 teaches us that we are not innocent of the blood which is shed in our land and on our watch. God holds us accountable for failing to punish the murderers and for allowing the killing to continue.
So, what are we to do? We can’t take an oath over a heifer and claim we didn’t know because we do! We can’t claim innocence! We can and should acknowledge our sin and guilt before the Lord God and plead for mercy based upon the sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God the Son in human flesh. And, we can be assured that through faith in Jesus Christ we have God’s pardon and forgiveness.
But, knowing this is a crime against God the Creator Himself, do we allow this atrocity to continue? How can we simply say it’s the law of the land and do nothing? There is a time to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), a time for each of us as citizens, and for our elected representatives, to say no to the immorality endorsed by ungodly judges.
I do not advocate taking the law into our own hands, but it is time for our weak-kneed governors, legislators, prosecutors and sheriffs to do what is morally right and stand up to the ungodly dictates of federal judges and say, “Not here, you don’t.”
It’s time to prosecute those obtaining and performing abortions on murder charges and to carry out just punishments to stop the murdering. It’s time for us to remove, whether by recall, impeachment or by our ballots, all who are unwilling to defend human life, born and yet unborn!
Why? Because we are accountable to God, our Creator and our Judge, for this innocent blood shed among us!