The Dead Closest

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“If anyone is found slain, lying in the field in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who killed him, then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance from the slain man to the surrounding cities. And it shall be that the elders of the city nearest to the slain man will take a heifer which has not been worked and which has not pulled with a yoke. The elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with flowing water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and they shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley.

Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the Lord; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled. And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley.  Then they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it. Provide atonement, O Lord, for Your people Israel, whom You have redeemed, and do not lay innocent blood to the charge of Your people Israel.’ And atonement shall be provided on their behalf for the blood. So you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.”  Deuteronomy 21:1-9

It is very easy to get so caught up with what is happening in our own lives and even our beliefs about God that we fail to act like God and live as if no one else’s concerns are our concerns. But the Bible is clear that the circumstance of another person, even when we don’t know who he or she is, is our business. We need atonement for ourselves when we allow those around us to suffer when we could have done something to prevent it, even if we don’t know about it.

Because not knowing what we could have known will not excuse our neglect, we need to actually try to learn what we can do make the world better and do so.  Job said, “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know.” Job 29:16. Our faith needs to be active, not passive.  Living a righteous life is not just about we you don’t do, it is about what we do do. Those who lived closest to the body of the dead were to ask God for atonement for themselves. Let’s ask God to help us be responsible and not neglect our duty to care for and protect those around us.

Picture originally found here

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