The Blood Cries Out
And the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I do not know!” he answered. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” “What have you done?” replied the LORD. “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.…
Genesis 4:9-11 Berean Study Bible
“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”
Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV)
As I was preparing to write this book, the Holy Spirit put the Scripture above on my heart. I believe the Holy Spirit had me focus on the revelation that the blood of the slain “cries out” to God. I knew that the Bible said that “hands that shed innocent blood” are one of the six things that “the Lord hates (Prov 6:17). The words innocent and blood “occur 49 times in 22 verses in the NKJV, including 19 exact phrases (Blue Letter Bible).”
As I started reading through these verses, I began to see that the death of the innocent was important to God and not only got his attention but garnered his judgment.
“Then the king said to him, “Do as he has said, and strike him down and bury him, that you may take away from me and from the house of my father the innocent blood which Joab shed.”
“Surely at the commandment of the LORD this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the LORD would not pardon.”
“Lest innocent blood be shed in the midst of your land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and thus guilt of bloodshed be upon you.”
“Egypt shall be a desolation, And Edom a desolate wilderness, Because of violence against the people of Judah, For they have shed innocent blood in their land.”
“But know for certain that if you put me to death, you will surely bring innocent blood on yourselves, on this city, and on its inhabitants; for truly the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
If the blood of the innocent still cries out to God as it did in Genesis, what does America sound like in God’s ears? Is the cry of innocent blood louder than the worship in our churches? In the Old Testament, atonement was made for the shed blood of the innocent to prevent God’s judgment from being unleashed.
Has America atoned for the genocide of Indian tribes? Or has it merely paid off the remaining Native Americans with reservations and scholarships while covering its atrocities, making little or no mention of them in its fairy tale historical presentations of Pilgrims, peaceful settlers, and iconic Founding Fathers?
Did the early Church in America, in its role as priest, cry out to God in repentance for the shed blood of the Native Americans? Or did it join the chorus of “the world” in its refrain that the “savages” had to be removed to make a great America?
Was the early Church’s repentant voice heard on behalf of dead Africans, captured and dying in horrific conditions en route to American shores? Did the post-slavery church account for the execution of runaway slaves or the post-slavery lynchings and massacres of African Americans? Is it possible that the Church’s relative silence in today’s era of unarmed African Americans dying at the hands of the police is merely an extension of its historical position?
I have been longing for religious leaders on a national and even regional level to provide guidance, to speak out, and fill the void as it pertains to police brutality. If innocent blood can cry out, if politicians, athletes, musicians, the media, and academia can speak out, why can't the church? I knew the racial chaos eventually would erupt into what we are seeing. Could the violence and escalation into riots have been lessened if the church had made its voice heard in a significant way? I believe the church's abdication has created a void that has been filled by so many other voices. Could the Church's voice have prevented some of what we see now?
This quote/clip http://bit.ly/DrKingRiots from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently captures a lot of what I am trying to say.
“I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Like Dr. King, I am an advocate of non-violence. I don't condone setting businesses on fire, throwing rocks at police, punching, harming police officers, and definitely not looting. At the same time, I don’t see my political and church leaders condemning police brutality and racism in America’s system of policing as vigorously as they condemn riots. Further, I see less condemnation from political and spiritual leaders against armed counter-protesters that have killed unarmed protesters now on at least two separate occasions.
Just like Abel's blood cried out from the ground to God, the blood of murdered young black men cries out to God for a remedy. The Bible says there are seven things that God hates, and one of them is hands that shed innocent blood. Is the shedding of black blood only a crisis for the “black” body of Christ? Is there no need for the entire body of Christ to call attention to the shedding of innocent blood? Is the body of Christ supposed to be at the forefront in opposition to the seven things God “hates” and come together collectively and ask for forgiveness from God? I believe there is a measure of blessing that America will never experience as long as she has not repented for the shedding of innocent blood.
One of the most commented upon dynamics of the protests that mounted after George Floyd’s death was their demographic. Many took note of the white and other non-black protesters. My unsubstantiated belief is that the Church did not make up the majority of the many white and other non-black faces? How can the world lead the church in grieving the shedding of innocent blood? Again, I assert that what is important to God should be of high priority to the church.
As I was studying innocent blood in the Bible, I kept coming across the term “avenger of blood.” I don’t think I’d ever really noticed that term before. Here’s the definition that I found:
“In the Bible, an avenger of blood is a person legally responsible for carrying out vengeance when a family member has been unlawfully killed or murdered. The avenger of blood is usually the nearest male relative of the murdered person. This family executioner seeks justice by killing the individual responsible for the death of his relative.
Mosaic Law allowed vengeance killings carried out by an avenger of blood: ‘The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when the avenger comes upon the murderer, the avenger shall put the murderer to death’ (Numbers 35:19; see also 26–27 and Deuteronomy 19:11–12). If a family member was murdered, it became the duty of the avenger of blood to restore justice to the family and the land by pursuing and ultimately carrying out the death penalty on the person responsible. This Old Testament law is rooted in God’s requirement of a life for a life in cases of murder: ‘And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image’ (Genesis 9:5–6, NLT).
The word translated ‘avenge,’ in Hebrew, is related to the word for ‘redeem,’ ‘reclaim,’ or ‘restore.’ As a representative of God and the family, the avenger of blood ‘redeemed or ‘reclaimed’ the blood of the relative by killing the original blood-shedder. An avenger of blood was to act only in cases of deliberate murder or the unlawful taking of an innocent life. Intent is a necessary element of murder. Six examples of intentional homicide are outlined in Numbers 35:16–21. The avenger of blood was not given license to act in instances of accidental manslaughter.
The Mosaic Law regulated the actions of the avenger of blood by providing cities of refuge for the accused. An individual who committed manslaughter, or the unintentional and accidental killing of a person, could find sanctuary in any of the six designated cities of refuge throughout the land of Israel (Numbers 35:10–15, 22–25; Deuteronomy 19:4–6; Joshua 20:1–6). In these towns, the avenger of blood’s quarry was legally protected and guaranteed a fair trial.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul instructs, ‘Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord’ (Romans 12:17–19).
Scripture promises that God will punish evildoers (1 Thessalonians 4:6). God has also appointed government authorities to execute vengeance on His behalf: ‘The government is God’s servant working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong’” (Romans 13:4, GWT).
I found this whole concept fascinating and compelling. The shedding of innocent blood was so important that God created a whole segment of Mosaic law to govern it. He also directed that six “cities of refuge” be set up for people who accidentally shed innocent blood. This protected them from family members of the loved ones until the underlying facts could be determined. We can easily see this as the foundation of our American judicial concept of manslaughter.
It would be easy to conclude that the Old Testament concept of avenging blood has been addressed in our American judicial concepts of trials, manslaughter, and perhaps even the death penalty. The courts, not the individual, are responsible for “revenge.” The same ideals for responsibility are reflected in the New Testament. As quoted above, Paul said, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil…Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
But what about the innocent blood that has been shed for which there has been no justice? Does God just leave it all up to the American legal system? Does He stop hearing the cry of innocent blood if “the government,” “God’s servant,” and “avenger” fails to “execute God’s anger” on those who do “what is wrong” per Romans 13:4 above? I believe Numbers 35:33-34 has the answer:
“Do not pollute the land where you live, for bloodshed pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land on which the blood is shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell. For I, the LORD, dwell among the Israelites.”
Berean Study Bible
I believe that America can never achieve its true greatness as long as the cries of innocent blood stand between it and the throne of God. What great things have been held back from America because we have treated the blood of the innocent shed on our “land” so lightly? Whose responsibility was atonement in the Old Testament? The priest. Is the Church in America supposed to fill the role of the priest today, to come before the Father in Heaven and make atonement for something the world knows nothing of?
Revelations 2:4-5 says, “But I have this one thing against you. You do not love Me as you did at first. Remember how you once loved Me. Be sorry for your sin and love Me again as you did at first. If you do not, I will come to you and take your light out of its place. I will do this unless you are sorry for your sin and turn from it.”
One of the topics that I have consistently encountered as I have discussed systemic racism in America’s police system and the deaths of African American men is abortion. That seems like a strange twist as the two don’t seem to be remotely related. But in American politics, today, systemic racism in America’s policing has been considered a priority in one party and abortion the priority of the other. It is therefore understood that if I am advocating police reform that I must be against the party that upholds the blood of the unborn. Here is my answer to that.
You say you’re against the abortion of black and brown babies, all babies. So am I. Where we differ is that you seem to be more dismissive if these black and brown babies grow up to be teens and adults and are killed by the police. It seems to be a greater priority for you, in terms of politics, to protect innocent life inside the womb vs. outside of it. From God’s perspective, I believe innocent blood is innocent blood.
Why have we, as Christian voters in America, allowed the political parties to prioritize separately the lives of the unborn innocent vs. the innocent who survived long enough to be adults? One party shouts, protect the unborn but is “the law and order party” that also says that systemic racism in policing does not exist. The other party says fights to overhaul the criminal justice system and save the lives of black and brown men who regularly die on camera in broad daylight but neglects the lives of the unborn black and brown. How have we allowed American politics to so divide us over the issue of “hands that shed innocent blood?”
God is the ultimate judge because the blood cries out to him. How can we be so quick to judge abortionists and downplay police brutalities that end in death, even for minor offenses? Do Black Lives Matter only before birth? How can we condemn police officers for killing “us” while black and brown babies are being tossed in the trash, or their parts sold? Do Black Lives Matter only after birth? Why have we settled along political party lines instead of saying that Black, Brown, All Lives “Matter” in the womb, in police encounters, during traffic stops? I don’t believe God’s distinctions for innocent blood match America’s.
I believe America is one of the great “lights” for God in the Earth. It enjoys a “place” ordained by God and sustained by the prosperity that God has poured out upon it. If the shed blood of the innocent is not repented of, will God take America “out of its place” of Christian leadership in the Earth?
In “Founding Fathers,” I said, “I believe that there will be a consequence for leading the body of Christ into failing the same tests on unity and race that previous generations have failed. I believe it will result in the mantle of our nation’s Christian leadership passing on to others.” I believe before God takes America out of its place, He will first transfer the mantle of American Christian leadership to those that will place value on the things He values and not “wink” at things He doesn’t wink at.
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