In Deuteronomy 21, the subject is almost awkward. The scenario is of a dead body found in the field. It is an unsolved mystery. No one knows who committed the crime. God instructs the people to perform an unusual ceremony. They are to measure the distance from the dead body to the surrounding cities, and the closest city bears the responsibility to invoke God’s mercy upon the nation of Israel. They were required to take a heifer which was never a beast of labor and take it to a place in the valley where there was never any plowing and sever the head from the beast.
It seems brutal, but it perfectly pictures the culpability and the value God has placed on life. No life is worthy to be discarded. The vicious ceremony was a vivid reminder to the elders and leaders of the social failures. In a way, they failed to influence their citizens in the ways of God. The tragedy of a life taken was supposed to be treated seriously because it was the thievery of the most blessed gift of God.
How many lives have been snuffed out in silence? There is no answer to the cries from the innocent who have been slain in the name of preference and individual rights. Every life discarded screams an indictment upon the leaders of our communities for their failure to influence others in the ways of God. Every life is precious in God’s eyes. Those who advocate for the life of the unborn have been accused of being overly graphic when they show images and videos of the abortion process. It would seem to parallel the visual impact God ordered in this chapter. The ones who take an innocent life have placed themselves in God’s seat and decided who lives and who dies, and it is the community who is guilty in the eyes of God when this practice is permitted without restraint. The cold case of abortion must be addressed. The inestimable value of life will inevitably cost a community more than they could ever realize.