God confirms his covenant with Noah.
“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. Now be fruitful and multiply, and repopulate the earth.” . . .
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.”
(Genesis 9:6-7, 12-16)
Here God explains why murder is so wrong: To kill a person is to kill one made in God’s image. Because all human beings are made in God’s image, all people possess the qualities that distinguish them from animals: morality, reason, creativity, and self-worth.
God wants us to recognize his image in all people. Only God has given life, so no one else has the right to take it away.
Despite God’s prohibition of murder, we continue to see it throughout the Bible. Cain had already killed Abel. Moses would kill an Egyptian. David would kill Uriah the Hittite. Ahab and Jezebel would kill Naboth. Paul would kill Christians.
When Jesus taught about murder, he took the issue deeper—to the attitude of the heart. Murder grows out of anger. His point was not that we should never be angry, but that we should deal with it quickly and rightly. To forgive and be reconciled.
God will require each person to account for his or her actions. We cannot harm or kill another human being without answering to God. A penalty must be paid. Justice will be served. When we interact with others, we are interacting with beings made by God, beings to whom God offers eternal life.
God calls us to see our friends, neighbors, and enemies as creatures whom he made with dignity, value, and purpose. Anger will still arise in our hearts from time to time, but we can learn to deal with those conflicts and still honor the creatures God made. Who are you harboring anger toward today? What steps can you take toward forgiveness and reconciliation?