January 23, 2008

Closing Cold Cases

Deuteronomy 21:1-9

The bloodshed will be atoned for.
Deuteronomy 21:8


The police do not always catch murderers. The evidence may be too limited, or the trail may run out of leads. The pursuit may end in a cold case. Our justice system calls for conviction of a perpetrator before a case can be closed. So the police and the victim's family  may wait months or years for closure-or have none at all.

Moses says that such cases aren't just about the victim or the unknown murderer but also about the blood that cries out to God, who gave it. The blood of life is a divine gift, not a personal possession. Murder steals life from the God who gave it. Although the perpetrator is unknown and may never be caught, closure is required.

So the elders of the town closest to where a corpse was found were required to declare their innocence before God and to offer a sacrifice. A life for a life. Before God they were then innocent, the guilt was then cleansed, and there was atonement. Closure.

Even if cold cases are solved, however, there isn't full closure. Human justice cannot atone for the brutal slaughter of a dear loved one, not even by taking the life of the perpetrator. What can atone for such a loss?

We are so precious in God's eyes that there can be no closure until God himself is satisfied. Closure begins with the shed blood of our innocent Lord Jesus Christ. Believe it. Rest in it. Be at peace.

Heavenly Father, grant that justice be done on earth as it is in heaven, in Christ's name. Give peace to all who have suffered great loss. May we find rest and strength in you. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!