Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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February 7 – The Real Purpose Of The Death Penalty

“Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him.  And speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life.  If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.  Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death.'”  Leviticus 24:14-21

Devotional Thought For The Day

We are no longer subject to the “legal” code God put in place for the newly formed nation of Israel back around 1400 B.C., but it is quite interesting to look at the principles and dynamics and to discern God’s concerns.  One of the things that strikes us as most interesting is the rather serious consequences imposed on those who curse or blaspheme God’s Name.  The punishment is the same as that imposed for murder!  The same penalty was prescribed for adultery, for idolatry [including occultic practices, and advocating new religions – which is blaspheming God], for working on the Sabbath, and for incorrigible juvenile delinquency.  Also of great interest is the sharp distinction made between human life and animal life – animals are mere property; human life is of far greater value.

One might think that such harsh punishment indicated a lack of proper valuing of human life.  Just the opposite is the case.  However, what escapes us is the reality that those who practice such things as murder, idolatry, adultery, occultism, anarchy [disrespect for parents and authority], and who have disregard for God and Sabbath are in fact rejecting and eroding the value of human life, their own as well as that of other human beings around them.  The consequence of rejecting the value of true and genuinely human life, that given by the Creator Who is love, is the forfeiture of one’s biological existence [whoever has done this, chosen to “live” in such rejection of God, has already repudiated their spiritual life and eternal life].  So the commandments and the “laws” God gave to Israel did in fact enhance and emphasize the valuing of human life – precisely through the imposition of capital punishment.  Sadly, the vast majority of people living today are simply too myopic and spiritually blind to understand this.

There is no contradiction of the value of human life in prescribing capital punishment for murderers and others, say for those performing abortions: those who devalue human life by taking it from the most vulnerable forfeit the value of their own lives.  By emphasizing this forcefully, the value of human life is not further diminished, but rather dramatically enhanced.  The same could be said for any of a number of crimes beyond murder – including drug dealers and even false religionists [who denude people of their true humanity – and the value of human life – by leading them away from a proper knowledge of and relationship with God, the only True and Living God].  So, while we may be glad that these “political” and “criminal” statutes, and their prescribed punishments, are no longer in force, we might want to reconsider carefully the great wisdom contained in them, and the blessedness they were intended to bring to God’s people. Depending upon your perspective, and level of wisdom, one would conclude that it was either fortunate or deplorable that these statutes were rarely implemented with any real consistency in the history of Israel.  Regardless, the fact that these statutes have been written down in God’s Word enable us to think far more deeply about the meaning of human being and the real blessedness of God’s will for us, and also how He views the all too common degradation of human life through sin and crime.

Because of all of this, and because of His continuing great love for us, God gave His only begotten Son, so that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  All of this misery and wretchedness was properly and fully paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ, in His suffering and death on the cross as the blood atonement for the sins of the whole world. He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  And He also proclaimed, “It is finished!”  Through His beloved Son God continues to call all people back to Himself, back to real and genuine human being, back to life – not just biological life, but to spiritual life and to eternal life!  Such is His love for us, and the great blessedness He wills for us!  And in view of this, it should not be surprising that the blaspheming of His Name [especially false religion] should warrant such weighty and dire consequence.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, help us to grow in our understanding of Your great love for us, and Your good and gracious will for human being and life.  Open our hearts and minds to grasp the terrible darkness of human sin and rebellion against You, so that we might also embrace Your goodness and love.  Grant us continued life through repentance and faith, and to do what we can to promote and extend this life to others. Amen.