The Origin of Justice

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.”— Genesis 9:6–7 (NLT)

Dating back to the earliest of recorded civilizations, humanity as a species has always desired to see some form of justice being served in response to a crime or transgression. As parents, we try to teach our kids right from wrong, and with that comes both good and bad consequences. Why? Because we want them to understand the weight of their actions. 

The concept of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is an immensely popular one that can be heard all over the world, even outside of Judeo-Christian circles. It’s a concept that says one must be accountable for their actions and make some form of restitution for their transgressions. 

For the most part, figures since the beginning of time have tried to institute fair consequences for actions. Where do you think that came from? It comes from the Lord! Our conscience, that innate understanding of right and wrong (which we constantly ignore and suppress in order to satisfy the sinful nature), our efforts to instill fair and just laws, and our desire for justice . . .  these things are part of the human experience because they are characteristics of the Lord. He is good and perfect, from Him flows all morality and goodness. He is a righteous judge and has an incorruptible desire for justice. 

In today’s verse, we see the Lord instituting a heavy, and yet fair consequence for all mankind to live by: a life for a life. “If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands.” This law was given to Noah and his family upon exiting the ark. You see, we are fearfully and wonderfully made; we are bearers of God’s image. One commentary put it this way: “It is true that image has been injured by the fall, but it is not lost. In this view, a high value is attached to the life of every man, even the poorest and humblest, and an awful criminality is involved in the destruction of it.” 

And what are his instructions? Instead of taking life from this world, the command is to multiply; to bring life into it, to value human life. I want you to reflect on this. How much value do you put on human life . . . on EVERY human life? How often do you remember that all people, regardless of gender, race, lifestyle, religion, or economic status, are image-bearers of God, people whom Christ died for, whom He loves and desires to see enter His kingdom?

DIG: Why is the consequence for taking a life the loss of life by the hands of another?

DISCOVER: Why did God juxtapose the idea of life for life with being fruitful and multiplying? What does it tell us about His character? Look beyond the simple fact of repopulating the earth after the flood. There is something deeper at play here.

DO: Reflect on what was stated in this devo’s conclusion. Truly examine the way you view others, the way you think about different people groups, the way you view issues like abortion, gun control, war, poverty, etc. Do you value all human life? Do you look at all people, even those whom you don’t agree with or understand, with the knowledge that they are made in His image? Is that truly impacting how you think about others and treat them?

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.