There are a few concepts of God’s law that must be understood. First, God takes our oaths very seriously. James 5:12 tells us, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” We are so prone to failure when it comes to keeping a promise that God wisely counsels us not to make them at all. But when we do, we must know God then holds us accountable for keeping them.
God’s Word also teaches that when blood is shed unjustly, it must be repaid. We see this in the justice system, where the avenger of blood might take a life for a life. Numbers 35:33 instructed the Israelites that the shedding of innocent blood would defile the land and remove God’s blessing. After three years of famine, David realized that God had done just that. The remedy was for justice to be done. It had been years since Saul shed the blood of the Gibeonites, yet the time came when God held the nation accountable for this injustice.
Imagine if God were to hold our nation accountable for all the innocent blood shed in her lifetime. From the native people of the land, to the slaves brought here in chains, to the unborn children slaughtered in the womb, to those falsely accused and executed or served up a mob's misguided notion of vigilante justice. If God demanded a life for a life, it could amount to almost half of the current population of our country.
Yet that is only a small fraction of the weight of the sin-debt that Christ took on the cross. Christ took our guilt as individuals, but while there is forgiveness through the blood of Christ, there remain consequences for our actions. In David's time, the notion of justice required a number of Saul's sons to pay the price for their father's betrayal. We experience similar repercussions for our sin today -- our unfaithfulness results in a dissolved marriage, with children suffering the loss of stability and security. Our greed leads to foolish financial decisions that cost a family their home or their financial well-being.
We must never discount or minimize the price of sin. Both individually and corporately, the cost of violating God's commands is steep. And while we may not pay the ultimate price in eternity because of Christ's mercy and grace, we will eventually reap the temporal product of our choices in one way or another.