IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT BIBLICAL?

July 30, 2019

 

As expected, the left wing nuts have sallied forth to express their repugnance for the re-institution of the federal death penalty.  It will always remain a mystery how killing babies, even after exiting the womb, can be justified, but execution of a premeditated murderer is declared evil.  The sacrifice of the innocent seeks supremacy over the suppression of wickedness.  The logical mind cannot entertain any sound reasoning in this upside down can of worms.  We are left therefore to conclude that the proponents of “kill the blameless and spare the corrupt” are either crazy or true representatives of “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Noah had barely exited from the ark before God laid down explicit instructions concerning punishment for a killer:  “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of a man.  Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:5,6).  It should be noted that this admonition appears 857 years before the Ten Commandments which is the launching pad for the legal dispensation.  Prior to the law, mankind was ruled by conscience which was reinforced by the Decalogue years later.

Numbers 35:16-21 details the law’s definition of who and what a murderer is and always prescribes capital punishment for the remedy.  “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses:  but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.  Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death:  but he shall be surely put to death”  (Numbers 35:30-31). God does not stop with the crime and punishment but actually indicates that failure to properly prosecute the offender results in a curse on the land.  “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are:  for blood it defileth the land:  and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.  Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell” (Numbers 35:33,34). If this applies to America, and there is no reason to believe it doesn’t, it may provide a partial explanation as to our crippled condition.

Of course, there are those who would assign the Old Testament to the archives of irrelevance, but Paul, the great Doctor of New Testament doctrine, pointed out that a primary purpose of government is to punish the wrong doers.  He utilizes language that leaves no room for any interpretation except previously held remedies.  “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.  For he is the minister of God to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the Sword in vain:  for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:3.4). Capital punishment is not only approved of by the greatest follower of Jesus who ever lived, he even submitted to it himself personally.  “For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die”  ( Acts 25:11). The same Paul rehearsed the moral commandments of the Decalogue in Romans 13:9. Is it reasonable to assume that the Lord would continue the commandment but dismiss the consequences of its violation?

Human depravity often reverses a righteous instruction to an evil intention for political gain.  Many a martyr has fallen under the sword of vengeance for no crime except a love for truth.  History contains no greater example of this than the condemnation of Jesus Christ.  “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?  Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.  Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.  Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?  And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:37,38).

Then why, dear Pilate, did you condemn Him?  Notice Pilate does not ask “What is truth?”  He is making a cynical statement.  He had no interest in what truth is at all, for he turns around and walks out without waiting for an answer.  Any good Harvard man knows opinion is preferred over truth.  By some wild coincidence, the Latin (which Pilate would have spoken) for “What is truth” (Quid est veritas) could read “Est virqui adest” if you rearranged the letters; it means “It is the man before you.”  See John 14:6.

Christ submitted Himself voluntarily to capital punishment, not because He deserved it, but because we do.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”  (Romans 6:23).

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