Then the Lord said to Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone accidentally may flee. They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that anyone accused of murder may not die before they stand trial before the assembly. These six towns you give will be your cities of refuge. Give three on this side of the Jordan and three in Canaan as cities of refuge. These six towns will be a place of refuge for Israelites and for foreigners residing among them, so that anyone who has killed another accidentally can flee there.
- Numbers 35:9-15
Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”
- Joshua 20:1-6
The Scriptures above contain the only four verses where the word “accident” appears in the NIV, actually “accidentally.” They all refer to the establishment of refuge cities so that if you accidentally kill someone, you could run to one of these cities for refuge. Refuge would then be granted unless the elders of that city determined that the death was not accidental. If not accidental, the person seeking refuge would have to leave the city and go to his/her fate.
So, there is provision for accidents in the Bible, only in murder cases, but…
So, God does allow for the fact that accidents can occur, but sometimes people seem to intentionally cause accidents. Yes, there is fraud, but sometimes people make such stupid decisions, that it seems they asked for the accident.
Case in point: There was a torrential rainstorm in Mississippi a few years ago. On the east side of Jackson, MS, an area that often bloods, there was a video of a couple who were rescued by the local police department. The couple had driven around a barricade and with the water so deep, they were unable to see where the road was. They drove into the ditch and the car flooded with water. Violating the law by going around a barricade is a common law to break, but the video showed the woman in distress, but the man turned to the camera; he puffed out his chest with pride; he smiled and actually laughed. In his demented mind, the insurance company was going to give him a new car and he got to be on national television. Was this a case of accidentally on purpose?!
The television channel that devotes itself to weather, who replayed the above video many times, when they are not spending half their viewing hours showing advertisements and some of the remaining time repeating climate change propaganda… They have some cute saying that they think work. “Turn around; don’t drown.” “When thunder roars, go indoors.” They admonish people to not forget their children in the back seat of a hot car. They warn people, when the risk of avalanche is high, to not ski off the manicured trails. They tell people to evacuate when the local authorities say to do so in case of storms or wildfires. They give the warnings, but the people who need to hear the warnings do not think dangerous activities apply to them. They are immortal, until they are not. On icy roads, they will gladly triple their following distance – from one foot behind your bumper to three feet. They still cannot stop, but they are immortal. You will simply have to find out after the crash. And they are the ones not watching the weather on television in the first place.
And people still do those stupid things in spite of hearing the warnings – almost like a challenge.
I was a safety manager for about 15-20 years. I kept sending open letters to the entire group of companies to keep them reminded of various safety topics. At least they did not have ignorance as their excuse, but I quickly learned a modified old saying, “Beauty may only be skin deep, but stupid goes all the way to the bone.” The accidents that occurred on my watch were people not thinking before they did what they did – and most of them on foreign soil so my OSHA logs were fairly clean.
With our latest winter storm, one road that intersects with our route to the dialysis center was closed. Three sawhorses holding signs said “ROAD CLOSED.” There was enough room between two of the sawhorses to get through, probably as a courtesy for the people who lived there, all within sight of the sawhorses. I drop my wife off at 7:00am, just as the sun comes up. This barricade had probably been set up the day before.
When I returned, there was a woman in an SUV, paralyzed with indecision. She was parked diagonally in the middle of the intersection with the closed road. It was obvious that she wanted to go that way. I had to go into the snow-filled ditch to get around her.
First, I have no idea why the road was closed. It is a one lane road that allows traffic in both directions. I rarely use it because some sections are so narrow that meeting someone means one person is driving in the ditch, and since the other person would refuse to leave the pavement, it was always me. But the road had tall trees on either side, mostly hardwood. Had the ice weighed down a limb and knocked a power line onto the road? Was there so much ice on the road that the snowplow simply could not make the road passable? There was one curve that had no culvert to redirect the ground water underneath the road, so ice, inches thick on the road was highly possible. We had freezing rain for hours before the snow came. Were there trees that fell under the weight of snow and ice and the tree mulching people had to come to clear a path? And with any of those, when you met the hazard, the road was too narrow to turn around.
Second, people in Pittsburgh learn routes. I have mentioned it many times before that the streets are not laid out in a grid. There is no way to go one or two blacks over and get to the same place. When I saw the lady parked there, I could tell you with confidence where she was probably going and where she had come from. I inferred she lived in a small hamlet to the south of her location. She had travelled north on the only road through that hamlet, then a hairpin turn to the right to go east (and a bit south) and up a hill. At this T-intersection, turning left, she would take this paved trail (now closed), at the next T-intersection, a right, then another right followed by an almost immediate left (to negotiate beneath the railroad bridge that has not been there in over 25 years), and then a few miles later there were choices that went to various shopping centers, doctor’s offices, and office buildings. The lady may have memorized the one way to get there, and she was waiting (since it was early on a Saturday morning at dawn) for her husband to wake up and dictate an alternate route.
When I came back four hours later, she was gone.
But it got me thinking about these cute sayings so that people remember that driving around a barricade or driving on a water-covered road or working outside during a lightning storm is unsafe. But they will do it anyway, while reciting the saying, and laughing, until it is no longer a laughing matter. And telling people that it is unsafe to be on the road, so stay home… I had run ins with the company president who would never let us go early, regardless of the weather conditions, and he was not giving anyone the day off if he could make it to the office over the icy roads.
People are afraid of COVID because it can kill you, but the statistics are skewed in that anyone who died while testing positive is listed as a COVID death rather than the true cause. Could it be that COVID has been not much worse than a really bad influenza, commonly called the flu? Why should we destroy the economy of almost every nation on earth, except for China, and cower in fear when we will all die one way or another? Why draw the line there? At a meeting, everyone is socially distanced, wearing masks, constantly reapplying disinfectant to your hands, but to get to the meeting, you drive over roads that claim lives due to auto accidents every year, you stop off at a mall or shopping center where similar shopping areas have been targeted by deranged people who start shooting everyone in sight. I could go on, but then you might get nervous and disinfect your hands again for good measure.
My point is not to live like there is no tomorrow from a safety point of view, but we are inconsistent in our fear of death. We stupidly risk our lives in one sense, and then we become overcautious in another sense. In both cases, we are not thinking the hazard through.
God has us in the palm of His hand if we are one of His children.
Be safe. Be responsible. And to do both of those, think.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.