Consider again Jesus’ words in Mat 23:35-36 and Luk 11:49-51 that all the righteous blood shed on earth would be charged against the wicked and adulterous generation of which the scribes and Pharisees were a part. Regarding Abel, the very first person whose righteous blood was shed, see Gen 4:10. Regarding Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, who seems to be in mind in Luke’s account, see 2Ch 24:22. In light of these passages what do we learn from Jesus’ words about the recompense God exacts for the shedding of righteous blood? Cf. Jer 26:14-15. Was it just Cain who slew Abel, or those who slew God’s prophets, against whom vengeance was exacted for their righteous blood? In God’s great mercy and love and His patient desire that none should perish but all should come to repentance, did He forget that their righteous blood was shed? See Deut 32:35,43, Rev 6:9-10, 19:2. Considering that the guilt for innocent blood that has been shed can reach throughout history and be charged against those who demonstrate by their choices to be of the same wicked and adulterous generation, what do we learn about the seriousness of bloodguiltiness to a people? Cf. Deut 21:1-9, Isa 65:6-7.
The Jerusalem Talmud tells of eighty thousand young priests who were slain by Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard for Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, on account of the blood of Zechariah (the son of Jehoiada). Whether true or not, it indicates the lasting memory Zechariah’s righteous blood had upon the conscience of the nation, and for which they supposed their exile in Babylon had atoned. What insight does this give us into the added significance of Matthew’s account in which Jesus specifically mentions Zechariah the son of Berechiah who was martyred in the temple after that exile? In what way would His words have been a pointed reminder of their culpability for the shedding of righteous blood, especially as they were even then plotting not just against the light of a brightly shining star, but the light of the sun (Son)? Think: When a person or people turns back to sin, even after a chastisement has wrought repentance, is not God able to again charge against them past crimes for which they are culpable? See Mat 18:26-27,32-34; cf. Eze 18:24.
Consider that the vengeance for all the righteous blood that had been shed by the Jews was exacted by God not just upon the scribes and Pharisees, but upon the entire nation of the Jews in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. which resulted in their exile as a people for almost 1900 years; what does this teach us about the responsibility leaders carry for those under them and the importance of true godly national leadership? Considering its scope, what does this teach us about the ability of God to exact vengeance much better than we ever could, while at the same time exercising mercy and love and extending every opportunity for people to repent and be saved from His wrath? See Rom 12:19; cf. Luk 21:20-22. Consider too: If not even a sparrow that falls to the ground is forgotten by the Father (Mat 10:29-31), shall we suppose He ever forgets when the blood of those of much greater value than sparrows is shed by wicked men? Although in His great mercy and love God is patient and gives the wicked every opportunity to repent in order that such wicked deeds might be atoned for by the blood of Christ, shall we suppose that such patience means He has forgotten the wicked deeds of those who will not repent and God will not exact vengeance for them? See Rom 2:4-6. What implications does this have in regard to the millions and millions of innocent children who have been murdered in their mother’s wombs, which crimes have hardened and continue to harden the hearts and collective conscience of our nation and other nations of the world? Although such children have been sacrificed to the god of this age on the modern altars of convenience and largely forgotten as an inconvenient medical procedure, has God forgotten? Shall we then suppose that God will not avenge every drop of their innocent blood that was shed? Cf. 2Ki 21:16, 24:2-4, Psa 106:34-42, Jer 19:1-15, 26:15. What vengeance does such an outpouring of innocent blood call forth? See Rev 14:18-20, 16:4-7.
In contrast to martyred Zechariah’s last words that called for vengeance, what were martyred Stephen’s last words, and what is their great significance in regard to the guilt of a particular Pharisee? See Act 7:60-8:3, and think: how immeasurably more did God’s kingdom prosper by Stephen’s shed blood calling for forgiveness rather than vengeance and the impact it had on saving that blind Pharisee? Upon whose example was Stephen able to speak as he did? See Luk 23:34. What insight does this give us about the sense in which the sprinkled blood of Christ speaks better than the blood of Abel (Heb 12:24)? Consider also the results of William Tyndale’s dying cry before being strangled and burned at the stake: “Lord, open the eyes of the king of England.” Within four years four English translations of the Bible were published in England by order of the king (Henry VIII), all of which were based on Tyndale’s work!
1. McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.↩