MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Are God’s Punishments too Severe?

January 8th, 2007 Visited 1719 times, 1 so far today

It’s interesting to look back at the Levitical law and look at the punishments for the crimes– especially given where we are today in our societies and what we view as appropriate punishments.

In order to get perspective, remember that the first murderer– Cain– was not given the death penalty. God dealt with him directly, and instead of killing him on the spot, God cursed him, but let him live.

Yet it is not much later that God institutes the first law (other than “obey God” ) when God commanded a life for a life.

In fact, God goes on to command in Numbers 25:31 that there should be no ransom that can be offered for the life of a murderer– the person must be put to death.

But the punishment was death was for more than just the murderer:

These things were in the government that God established for His people. He also commanded them to eradicate those people that were in the land when they came upon for the wickedness that they had done, and had wiped the entire earth clean except for one family at one time in Earth’s history.

Suffice it to say that God hates sin, he cannot stand it in His site, He is merciful and patient but He is also Holy and Just. These were the laws put into place for His people that were going to be called by His name and were to bear His standard. He knew the influence that these elements could have in society, and His laws made sure that they would not survive and be allowed to effect His people.

As you look over these things, think about some of the problems that we have in our culture today that may not be there if these rules were in place– and I’m not saying because we killed a lot of people, but because the deterrent (a strong one) would be there. Committing adultery would be a capital offense instead of something glamorized. Rebellion in children would be something that would be avoided. No wizardry or witchcraft. No murders or abortion.

One immediately thinks that God’s radical or unjust in these laws, but if you look, they address many of the areas that have lead to cultural demise and are written all over our current society. I’m not saying that we should push Congress to pass legislation to enact the Mosaic Law. What I am asking you is to look at the law and realize that it was there for a purpose, and that we need to realize what God is trying to tell us about ourselves, about sin, and about holiness through the law.

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  • MInTheGap says on: January 8, 2007 at 3:35 pm

     

    One wonders what the kingdom that Christ will setup here on the Earth will have for rules. Since the Bible talks about Him ruling with an iron fist, I would not doubt that you might get your chance, Leticia.

  • Mary says on: January 8, 2007 at 4:23 pm

     

    I agree. Who knows where we’d be now, if God’s laws (10 commandments) were still in place…yes, we’re not under law, but under grace, but in the same breath…we as the church are not getting the message across strongly enough about the sanctity of life and marriage, etc. Hard to know how to do this without appearing judgemental.

    I am for the death penalty. I admit to feeling a twinge for those that face eternity in hell, but I do feel justice was done.

  • Leticia says on: January 8, 2007 at 3:26 pm

     

    There are days that I wish we could live under just God’s law. Why? Because I believe we would live in a better world. It saddens me to see how blatant the media is in portraying adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality etc. They make it look exciting and never, ever show the consequences of having such relationships, incurable diseases for one thing, emotional scars, guilt.

  • MInTheGap says on: January 8, 2007 at 4:27 pm

     

    It’s a fine line between carrying out the law and being holy and showing mercy and grace– that is for sure.

  • ann_in_grace says on: January 8, 2007 at 4:49 pm

     

    The all-inclusiveness of the nominal christianity has lead people to think that God is Love and not Justice. The moment you point that out to them, they call you a hateful person who does not understand Jesus and his teachings, you may even be labeled a fanatic.
    I am glad we are under Grace, but this paradoxically means that we must do as we please – that meaning that being Christians we only long for doing good. So we hate sin also. This is what made my pastor stop and laugh on Sunday, because at first he thought I was preaching cheap grace, and only after a while he understood what I meant 😉

  • MInTheGap says on: January 8, 2007 at 5:17 pm

     

    It’s the whole discussion that’s in Romans 6 that says that where sin abounds, grace abounds more. That doesn’t give us the license to sin– and there’s where a lot of people make the mistake. That, and in the area of Christian liberty– that just because I can do something I should do something.

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 8, 2007 at 5:34 pm

     

    No murders or abortion.

    Of course, the OT law does not always say quite what we expect:

    “And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow; he shall be surely fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”

    Exodus 21:22

    Which is not quite the death penalty.

    Paul tells us the purpose of the law in Romans. “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were through the law, worked in our members to bring forth fruit to death. But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.”

    I have said that I think Christ brings us a new attitude to law elsewhere. The law still tells us what God wants of us. However, we are not under the penalty of law. Moreover, Jesus showed us a new way to live. His new commandment was to love one another. He told us to love our enemies and pray for those who presecute us. He showed compassion to a woman under the condemnation of the law (and many others too).

    That is what God wants of us.

  • MInTheGap says on: January 9, 2007 at 9:37 am

     

    I guess I went too far with comparing sacrificing one’s child to Molech and abortion. In essence it’s the same thing, but it’s not really. I wasn’t really referring to the other passage. I’m going to have another post with some more lessons from our comments the other day, Stephen, because you awoke me to more interesting points.

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 9, 2007 at 10:32 am

     

    I’ll look forward to it. I wrote a post on my blog after I posted about the Bishop of Southwark on here yesterday. Creating new posts is probably a good way of keeping the discussion current.

  • flashnolan says on: January 9, 2007 at 12:52 pm

     

    In the old testament time in some cultures if you stole something you would get your hand cut off. Not only is that stupid, but you can only do it twice! 😉

  • MInTheGap says on: January 9, 2007 at 1:08 pm

     

    Make sure you give us a link so we know where to find it! 🙂

    Ahh, but how hard would it be to steal something when you didn’t have hands! (I guess you could ask a VeggieTales character that one!)

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 9, 2007 at 6:11 pm

     

    Make sure you give us a link so we know where to find it!

    Certainly, it is:

    http://safle.org/wordpress/200.....drunk.html

  • MInTheGap says on: January 10, 2007 at 4:41 pm

     

    Well, I would go so far as to say that abortion is infanticide, but I don’t know enough about Molech to know what the idol stood for.

  • Mrs. Meg Logan says on: January 10, 2007 at 4:06 pm

     

    I don’t think you went too Far about the sacrificing a child and abortion. The verse that Stephen points out refers to an “accidental” or indirect abortion of a child. It does not point out a woman taking the life of her unborn child deliberately, but of another person inadvertantly and without premeditation taking an unborn child. I think abortion is very VERY close to the sacrificing of a child to Molech, only here it is the sacrifice of a child in favor of the pleasure of SELF LIFE.

    Mrs. Meg Logan

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 10, 2007 at 4:41 pm

     

    Neither verse is a perfect fit. Sacrificing children to Molech deals with children that are born. This is a distinction that is more important to pro-choice people then myself, but comparison of both verses leaves some doubt if an un-born child is treated in the same way as a living child in the Old Testament.

    We also need to add in the fact that sacrificing children to a foreign god is a terrible abomination. It mixes murder with idolatry on a grand scale.

    But again, my real objection to any attempt to impose levitical law on gentile Christians is that this was never the purpose of the law. The law was there to bring us to a knowledge of the just reward for our sin.

    Remember that in the New Testament, there was debate about how much of the levitical law should be applied to gentile Christians, and the list of prohitions was very small. The point was that the law was given to the Jews. It was not meant for Christians. Indeed, Paul opposed any attempt to apply levitical law to gentile Christians. He resisted circumcision, wrote that one could eat food sacrificed to idols and so forth. The only proviso being that we abstain for the sake of weaker brethren.

    This was the law of love that Christ gave us.

    But is abortion wrong? Paul says “Shall we sin that grace may abound? By no means”.

    The law does tell us what is the will of God. We learn that murder is wrong, and that God has a plan and purpose for us even before we are born. It is difficult to avoid making a strong case from the Bible that abortion is indeed very wrong. So we oppose abortion. We also know that anyone who has an abortion deserves a punishment of death, as does *everyone else*. But there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. We need to help those people come to a point of repentance – not argue for a return to a code of law that was never meant for us.

    Regards,
    Stephen

  • Mrs. Meg Logan says on: January 10, 2007 at 7:03 pm

     

    “We also need to add in the fact that sacrificing children to a foreign god is a terrible abomination. It mixes murder with idolatry on a grand scale.”

    Well, actually I think that abortion is also idolatry. It is making self the idol. When people commit abortion, generally it is for completely selfish reasons, mostly because they don’t “want” the child. This is also idolatry, it exalts yourself above God as judge of right and wrong, saying that you have the ability to create and destroy life as YOU see fit, instead of the truth which calls babies a heritage and a reward and a blessing.

    It is true that we are not under the law to bring us salvation. You also make a good point that some of the Levitical Law was waived specifically in the New Testament for gentile Christians. However, some of the Law was clarified, and even more “iron fisted”. For example the law about divorce, which in the OT Moses delivered a bill of divorcement for being “dissatisfied” with the wife, unto the Jews. But in the NT Christ says that divorce is not ok, except on two grounds, the first being that the spouse who was leaving was an unbeliever, and the second being infidelity.

    So we see that some of the Law is still useful to us. Not for our salvation, never that. But as a way to live out the two great commandments. Love God with all your heart and mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. Those to commandments sum up the whole of Levitical Law, so reviewing Levitical Law is useful to us as gentile Christians seeking to live a holy and blameless life, by following the commandments of Christ. “If you love me, obey my commandments” (And this is why the Law is not done away with, but remains to this day)

    MRs. Meg Logan

  • Stephen Kingston says on: January 11, 2007 at 5:29 am

     

    I agree with pretty much everything you say. However, whilst those having abortions are indeed doing something selfish, and whilst this is a form of idolatry, I note that the same case can be made for people who drive too fast, or people who lie, are stingy or cheat, or (perhaps) who write blogs!

    But that, of course, is the point. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all, in our own hearts, monsters of depravity. And yet Christ died so that we would no longer be under the condemnation of law. And that is the message of the gospel.

    Yes, some aspects of the law were strengthened by Christ. But never the punishments of law. In the New Testament the only punishment that leads to death is a believer telling lies to God, or else treating God’s glory with contempt (such as the Corinthians who were abusing the communion service).

  • Holly says on: March 19, 2007 at 9:45 am

     

    There should also be a distinction made between a woman who has an abortion who truly is deceived…for example, a young woman (teenager) who has been told her baby is a blob…and a woman who KNOWS her baby is a living child and who has the abortion otherwise. There are many Christian women who have abortions – women who know better, women who simply don’t want the inconvenience of another child. In fact, one of the largest segments of the population who have abortions are women over 30 who already have children. The intent of the heart does matter.

    Also – I believe that the comparison of abortion to sacrificing infants to Molech IS a good comparison. An abortion *can* be a sacrifice to the god of self. Are not both false gods? Wouldn’t both be demon-influenced? I think we downplay the influence of satan in this day of “reason” and “logic.”

  • Stephen Kingston says on: March 19, 2007 at 10:45 am

     

    I think the point I was making above is that abortion *is* a kind of idolatry, and it is a great evil. But that there are other things that are also idolatry that we get away with from day to day. If I drive dangerously, this is a kind of selfish idolatry. But fortunately I am unlikely to kill someone because people are good at keeping themselves safe from the selfish actions of other drivers (e.g. they run fast!)

    But I might kill someone through my selfish actions.

    You are right to say that it is the intent of the heart that is important too. But whilst someone who has an abortion intentionally kills through their selfish action, the dangerous driver who does not kill but gets away with it is no less evil in his heart.

    So we have all sinned and fallen far far short of the glory of God.

    Shall we have abortions that grace may abound? certainly not! perish the thought! Shall we sin that grace may abound? A resounding no to this too.

    But what shall we do?

    My argument is that we need to bring people to a point of repentance. If they have killed their child then they must repent for this. They must acknowledge their sin and turn away from it.

    You say that Christian women have abortions. I have never heard of this, but that would likely be because it is not the kind of thing I would be told. If it is happening then it is a terrible indictment on their Christianity. How someone could acknowledge that *Christ* is Lord, and then usurp His authority, I do not know. And again, it is repentance that is needed.

  • MInTheGap says on: March 19, 2007 at 1:38 pm

     

    I understand what you’re saying Holly. Yes, we need to show love and compassion on those that have killed their child, but we cannot minimize the sin, like Stephen says. Looking at the sin like God looks at it– all sins (big and small) have separated us from God and make us despicable in His site. We need repentance, and only then will we be free.

  • Mrs. Meg Logan says on: April 14, 2007 at 10:57 am

     

    “The all-inclusiveness of the nominal christianity has lead people to think that God is Love and not Justice. The moment you point that out to them, they call you a hateful person who does not understand Jesus and his teachings, you may even be labeled a fanatic.” –Ann

    I am a fanatic, I admit it! LOL…

    I can’t even add to this other than to say, that I think people have a very skewed concept of right and wrong, and that the only way we can really determine what is right is to ask the Lord and seek His revealed will. He is the One who DEFINES good and evil, not us. In our pride we have sought to define evil as less than what God defines it, and good things are considered evil. We are a sad people, praise the Lord He saw fit to reach down to us when we were yet sinners!

    Mrs. Meg Logan

  • Mrs. Meg Logan says on: April 14, 2007 at 10:58 am

     

    P.S. Flash, it isn’t dumb, it’s brilliant!! How would someone continue to sin by theivery if they didn’t have hands?!

    Meg

  • Stephen Kingston says on: April 16, 2007 at 6:06 am

     

    Meg, I agree. As Joshua 1:8 has it: “”This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success”.

    Although, of course, the law is wrapped in the law of love. “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you” and so forth. In understanding God’s word, we find the love of Christ. Love without the word is not grounded in truth and obedience.

  • Mrs. Meg Logan says on: April 16, 2007 at 8:25 am

     

    Stephen,

    On these two commandments hangs all the law and the prophets ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ and the second is just like it ‘ Love your neighbor as yourself.’

    I think that this means not only that the Law is “wrapped” in the law of love, but that the Law IS Love. It is how we can know what is loving. It is loving to discipline, it is loving to correct, it is loving to require death for sin. All of the law and the prophets hangs on two things… loving God above all and loving others. So profound yet so simple.

    When we love God above all we will hate sin, and love justice because He is holy and just. When we love others as ourselves we will love our enemy and pray for them and that the Lord would have mercy on them, because that is what we pray for ourselves!

    Because God is Holy and Just I long to see people brought to justice who have done wrong, and because He is Loving and Merciful I can pray for their eternal salvation and forgiveness, just as He forgave me!

    Isn’t is SO cool How Great He Is!

    Meg

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

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