How does God view life?
How does God view abortion?
How do we show respect for life?
“JEHOVAH is in truth God,” said the prophet Jeremiah. “He is the living God.” (Jeremiah 10:10) Furthermore, Jehovah God is the Creator of all living things. Heavenly creatures said to him: “You created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) In a song of praise to God, King David said: “With you is the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) Life, then, is a gift from God.
2 Jehovah also sustains our lives. (Acts 17:28) He provides the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the land we live on. (Acts 14:15-17) Jehovah has done this in a way that makes life enjoyable. But to enjoy life to the full, we need to learn God’s laws and obey them.—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
SHOWING RESPECT FOR LIFE
3 God wants us to have respect for life—both our own and that of others. Back in the days of Adam and Eve, for example, their son Cain became very angry with his younger brother Abel. Jehovah warned Cain that his anger could lead him to serious sin. Cain ignored that warning. He ‘assaulted Abel his brother and killed him.’ (Genesis 4:3-8) Jehovah punished Cain for murdering his brother.—Genesis 4:9-11.
4 Thousands of years later, Jehovah gave the people of Israel laws to help them to serve him acceptably. Because these laws were given through the prophet Moses, they are sometimes called the Mosaic Law. Part of the Mosaic Law said: “You must not murder.” (Deuteronomy 5:17) This showed the Israelites that God values human life and that people must value the lives of others.
5 What about the life of an unborn child? Well, according to the Mosaic Law, causing the death of a baby in its mother’s womb was wrong. Yes, even such a life is precious to Jehovah. (Exodus 21:22, 23; Psalm 127:3) This means that abortion is wrong.
6 Having respect for life includes having the right view of fellow humans. The Bible says: “Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him.” (1 John 3:15) If we want everlasting life, we need to root out of our heart any hatred for our fellowman, because hatred is the root cause of most violence. (1 John 3:11, 12) It is vital that we learn to love one another.
WE SHOW RESPECT FOR LIFE
- by not taking the life of an unborn child
- by giving up unclean habits
- by rooting out of our heart any hatred for our fellowman
7 What about showing respect for our own life? People normally do not want to die, but some risk death for the sake of pleasure. For example, many use tobacco, chew betel nut, or take drugs for recreational purposes. Such substances harm the body and often kill the users. A person who makes it a practice to use these substances does not view life as sacred. These practices are unclean in God’s eyes. (Romans 6:19; 12:1; 2 Corinthians 7:1) To serve God acceptably, we have to give up such practices. Although doing so might be very hard, Jehovah can give us the needed help. And he appreciates the effort we make to treat our life as a precious gift from him.
8 If we have respect for life, we will keep in mind the need to be safety conscious. We will not be careless and will not take risks just for pleasure or excitement. We will avoid reckless driving and violent or dangerous sports. (Psalm 11:5) God’s law for ancient Israel stated: “In case you build a new house [with a flat roof], you must also make a parapet [or, low wall] for your roof, that you may not place bloodguilt upon your house because someone falling might fall from it.” (Deuteronomy 22:8) In harmony with the principle set out in that law, keep such things as stairs in good condition in your home so that someone does not trip, fall, and get badly hurt. If you own a car, make sure that it is safe to drive. Do not let either your home or your car be a danger to you or to others.
9 What about the life of an animal? That too is sacred to the Creator. God permits the killing of animals to obtain food and clothing or to protect people from danger. (Genesis 3:21; 9:3; Exodus 21:28) However, being cruel to animals or killing them just for sport is wrong and shows utter disregard for the sacredness of life.—Proverbs 12:10.
SHOWING RESPECT FOR BLOOD
10 After Cain killed his brother Abel, Jehovah told Cain: “Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) When God spoke of Abel’s blood, he was speaking of Abel’s life. Cain had taken Abel’s life, and now Cain would have to be punished. It was as if Abel’s blood, or life, were crying out to Jehovah for justice. The connection between life and blood was again shown after the Flood of Noah’s day. Before the Flood, humans ate only fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. After the Flood, Jehovah told Noah and his sons: “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you. As in the case of green vegetation, I do give it all to you.” However, God set this restriction: “Only flesh with its soul [or, life]—its blood—you must not eat.” (Genesis 1:29; 9:3, 4) Clearly, Jehovah links very closely the life and the blood of a creature.
11 We show respect for blood by not eating it. In the Law that Jehovah gave the Israelites, he commanded: “As for any man…who in hunting catches a wild beast or a fowl that may be eaten, he must in that case pour its blood out and cover it with dust.…I said to the sons of Israel: ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh.’” (Leviticus 17:13, 14) God’s command not to eat animal blood, first given to Noah some 800 years earlier, was still in force. Jehovah’s view was clear: His servants could eat animal meat but not the blood. They were to pour the blood on the ground—in effect, returning the creature’s life to God.
12 A similar command rests upon Christians. The apostles and other men taking the lead among Jesus’ followers in the first century met together to decide what commands had to be obeyed by all in the Christian congregation. They came to this conclusion: “The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled [leaving the blood in the meat] and from fornication.” (Acts 15:28, 29; 21:25) So we must ‘keep abstaining from blood.’ In God’s eyes, our doing that is as important as our avoiding idolatry and sexual immorality.
13 Does the command to abstain from blood include blood transfusions? Yes. To illustrate: Suppose a doctor were to tell you to abstain from alcoholic beverages. Would that simply mean that you should not drink alcohol but that you could have it injected into your veins? Of course not! Likewise, abstaining from blood means not taking it into our bodies at all. So the command to abstain from blood means that we would not allow anyone to transfuse blood into our veins.
14 What if a Christian is badly injured or is in need of major surgery? Suppose doctors say that he must have a blood transfusion or he will die. Of course, the Christian would not want to die. In an effort to preserve God’s precious gift of life, he would accept other kinds of treatment that do not involve the misuse of blood. Hence, he would seek such medical attention if that is available and would accept a variety of alternatives to blood.
15 Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said: “Whoever wants to save his soul [or, life] will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life. We are wise, then, to put our trust in the rightness of God’s law, with full confidence that if we die from any cause, our Life-Giver will remember us in the resurrection and restore to us the precious gift of life.—John 5:28, 29; Hebrews 11:6.
16 Today, faithful servants of God firmly resolve to follow his direction regarding blood. They will not eat it in any form. Nor will they accept blood for medical reasons.* They are sure that the Creator of blood knows what is best for them. Do you believe that he does?
THE ONLY PROPER USE OF BLOOD
17 The Mosaic Law emphasized the one proper use of blood. Regarding the worship required of the ancient Israelites, Jehovah commanded: “The soul [or, life] of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement.” (Leviticus 17:11) When the Israelites sinned, they could obtain forgiveness by offering an animal and having some of its blood put on the altar at the tabernacle or later at God’s temple. The only proper use of blood was in such sacrifices.
18 True Christians are not under the Mosaic Law and therefore do not offer animal sacrifices and put the blood of animals on an altar. (Hebrews 10:1) However, the use of blood on the altar in the days of ancient Israel pointed forward to the precious sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. As we learned in Chapter 5 of this book, Jesus gave his human life for us by letting his blood be shed as a sacrifice. Then he ascended to heaven and once for all time offered the value of his shed blood to God. (Hebrews 9:11, 12) That laid the basis for the forgiveness of our sins and opened the way for us to gain everlasting life. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16) How extremely important that use of blood has proved to be! (1 Peter 1:18, 19) Only by means of faith in the merit of Jesus’ shed blood can we gain salvation.
19 We can be so grateful to Jehovah God for the loving provision of life! And should that not motivate us to tell others about the opportunity to gain everlasting life on the basis of faith in Jesus’ sacrifice? Godly concern for the lives of fellow humans will move us to do this with eagerness and zeal. (Ezekiel 3:17-21) If we diligently fulfill this responsibility, we will be able to say, as did the apostle Paul: “I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26, 27) Telling people about God and his purposes is a fine way to show that we have the highest regard for life and blood.
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
1. Who created all living things?
2. What does God do to sustain our lives?
3. How did God view the murder of Abel?
4. In the Mosaic Law, how did God stress the proper view of life?
5. How should we view abortion?
6. Why should we not hate our fellowman?
7. What are some practices that show a disrespect for life?
8. Why should we keep in mind the need to be safety conscious?
9. If we have respect for life, how will we treat animals?
10. How has God shown that there is a link between life and blood?
11. What use of blood has God forbidden since the days of Noah?
12. What command regarding blood was given by holy spirit in the first century and still applies today?
13. Illustrate why the command to abstain from blood includes blood transfusions.
14, 15. If doctors say that a Christian must have a blood transfusion, how would he react, and why?
16. What do God’s servants firmly resolve regarding blood?
17. In ancient Israel, what was the one use of blood that was acceptable to Jehovah God?
18. What benefits and blessings can we gain from the shedding of Jesus’ blood?
19. What must we do in order to be “clean from the blood of all men”?