If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. (Exodus 22:2)
At first glance, it is clear that God validates a person’s right to defend himself and his property to the point that, in certain situations, another’s life may be taken. One may protect his life and family when it must be assumed that the thief is prepared to kill the owner. In this scenario, there is no guilt on the owner because the thief forfeited his life by his actions. However, in the following verse, God also makes it clear that one should not take a life if there is no imminent threat to you or your family. In other words, if a thief breaks in during the day, he is not likely seeking to inflict harm, meaning that one should not kill another in defense of his property exclusively.
While this all seems to be common sense to us, it is important to see that God places value on everyone’s life, including those who might be inclined to break into someone’s house. However, I believe there is something even more important to be gleaned from this instruction. Looking at this verse in Hebrew, the phrase “breaking in” is literally “digging” or “tunneling through.” In antiquity, many homes were constructed of clay and mud, thus the notion that the thief would dig through. He would most likely look for the weakest and most well concealed spot in order to make his entrance and then, under the cover of darkness, dig through.
This is interesting when we consider that all of us are “houses of clay.” The thief — the adversary of our soul — tries to “dig through” into our lives to steal, kill and destroy. He probes and pokes until he finds the weakest spot in our lives — and that is the area he looks to exploit. So then, it only makes sense that we take note of those weak points and do what is necessary to correct matters. It is foolhardy to think that Satan won’t come at us where and when we’re weak and it is just as foolhardy to ignore those weaknesses. It is wise for us to seek help from the One who guards the doors to our “house” and ask Him to strengthen us. We need His help to withstand the attack of the enemy and His power to overcome and prevail against the thief. Don’t ignore your weakness; appeal to Heaven to send the reinforcements you need.
Blessings and Shalom,