This week in our national news there is much talk about a father and son, Travis and Gregory McMichael, who in broad daylight shot a black man – Ahmaud Arbery. The details are still coming out.
But what stands out to me most is what one of his high school classmates said. He remembered Travis as racist and hating black people. This classmate said they joked that “at least they weren’t like Travis” in his racism and hate and calling upon his other classmates to speak up publicly. It hasn’t made the news. And I’m not even sure if the classmate’s comment is legit as it was a Facebook post that was being shared.
Regardless, it makes me think of this scripture in Joshua 20. If it’s true that hate existed prior to the crime, then that substantiates the criminal intent according to Scripture. Hate a person and committing a crime demanded justice.
As the Israelites were settling the land, 6 cities of refuge were set up. If a person accidentally killed someone, they could flee to the city of refuge. They had to make their case at the gate, and once inside, they were considered safe from “the avenger of blood.” They lived there until their court case. If they were found to be innocent, they stayed until the high priest died. If they were guilty, they faced justice.
The rules of the city of refuge were this:
“And if the avenger of blood pursues him, they must not hand the one who committed manslaughter over to him, for he killed his neighbor accidentally and did not hate him beforehand” (Joshua 20:5).
But if someone hates his neighbor, lies in ambush for him, attacks him, and strikes him fatally, and flees to one of these cities, the elders of his city must send for him, take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood (Deut 19:11).
In both cases a person who killed another could seek refuge in the City of Refuge. He is “state his case before the elders of that city” (Jos 20:4) and if they bring him into the city, “he is to stay in that city until he stands trial” (Jos 20:6). If innocent, he can live there until the high priest passes away.
But notice also what is important.
“did not hate him beforehand” (Jos 20:5)
“if someone hates his neighbor” (Deut 19:11)
Hat it a factor in the criminal record. Because if someone had hate prior to the crime, then the crime itself was suspect. As if the killers were looking for a “reason” to kill or do harm.
So Biblically speaking, it is important in this case with Ahmoud Arbery to determine whether or not that the McMichaels had strong racist tendencies and hate beforehand.
I wish I could stop there. But there’s a caveat that needs to be added that is beyond the Arbery case. Right now “hate” is being defined as having a different opinion. Or believing that something is right or wrong.
For example Samaritan’s Purse medical unit treats 100% of people regardless of their lifestyle, gender, etc… But for their staff they do uphold traditional marriage values and gender identity. Because of this, they have been labeled “haters” and have been unwanted by some in NYC to fight the Coronavirus.
Cake makers have said they will make any kind of cake for gay couples, but a wedding cake for a marriage is not something they are comfortable with making. And that is considered “hate.”
If a pastor preaches that certain things are a sin, he is labeled and can even be prosecuted for “promoting hate,” just by calling something a sin.
“Hate” is being so broadly defined right now so as to promote an agenda. This is not the hate the Bible talks about.
Hate that the Bible talks about is the hate that leads to violent crime. It is not merely having a conviction about life that differs from someone else’s. Hate is something that looks like violent words, violent actions and people lying in wait with guns to do harm.
Make no mistake, hate crimes exist right now. Genuine ones. As the Arboury case at present appears, though the evidence is still yet to come out.
But people are labeling anything and everything “hate crimes.” Many situations are just about having different beliefs. That’s it. This is considered “hate.”
Soon we will see Christians jailed just because of what they believe. They are already losing jobs. But Jesus said these things would happen. This is no surprise. We should expect it.
This particular Scripture though is talking in the judicial world. If someone with previous expressed violent words or actions expresses hate, then their alibi is suspect because it could be they were waiting to trap that person.