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LEVITICUS: GOD'S CALL FOR A SEPARATED WITNESS
Part II: The Path Of Walking In Fellowship With God (Leviticus 11-27)
I. God's Call And Rationale For Capital Punishment
(Leviticus 20:1-27; Genesis 9:6)
Lesson: Capital punishment was not instituted by God to deter crime; it was instituted as punishment to forfeit the life of one who had demeaned GOD by demeaning His image represented in mankind! As such, capital punishment is to be a perpetual statute in human government in all man's earthly history.
- One of the most debated issues in our American legal system has been that of capital punishment. One side believes capital punishment is a deterrent to crime while others feel it is inhumane and outdated.
- Though Bible never states capital punishment as a deterrent to crime, it does teach it for another reason. Leviticus 20:1-27 in light of Genesis 9:6 reveals God's call for capital punishment, and why (as follows):
- God's Call And Rationale For Capital Punishment, Leviticus 20:1-27; Genesis 9:6.
- God instituted capital punishment after the Flood not as a deterrent to crime, but as punishment, Genesis 9:6. Murdering a human who had been created in the image of God was a form of dishonoring GOD, and that sin demanded severe punishment for demeaning God's reputation via one's attack on His image!
- This institution was not limited to the Noahic era: in the Church dispensation, human government is said as God's agent not to bear the sword in vain, and the sword is used to kill other humans, Romans 13:4.
- Leviticus 20:1-21 thus reveals the sins that demean God's image in man, and require capital punishment:
- As sacrificing to Molech at times involved the sacrifice of infants, this practice was a defamation of the image of God in infants and hence required capital punishment for the guilty, Lev. 20:1-5; Ryrie Study Bible, KJV ftn. to Leviticus 18:21. As abortion on demand similarly defames the image of God in infants, abortion on demand is a capital offense that should be handled with capital punishment.
- Though Leviticus 20:6 does not specifically require capital punishment for seeking after spiritists, verse 27 requires the death penalty for practicing necromancy. Also, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 teaches Saul died for seeking a medium. Thus, any human's willful involvement in trafficking with demons is spiritual prostitution that demeans the image of God in him, and requires the death penalty.
- Cursing one's parents, the source of one's reception of God's image, was to be met with death, 20:9.
- Committing adultery defamed the innocent spouse who was made in God's image, and was to be met with the punishment of capital punishment for both willful parties in the crime, Leviticus 20:10.
- God widened the application of sexual sins to any form of aberrant sexual intercourse that hence desecrated the image of a holy, righteous God that exists in man: thus, union with one's father's wife (20:11), with one's daughter-in-law (20:12), with another of the same sex (20:13), with one's mother-in-law (20:14), with an animal (20:15-16), with one's sister or stepsister (20:17) or with any woman on menstruation (20:18) required the death penalty for defaming the image of God in the innocent spouse or party involved. (Bib. Kno. Com., O.T., p. 202-203 for verses 17-18: the expression of "I will cut him off" is God's additional excommunication in addition to the death penalty.)
- Now, the sexual unions of more distant relatives mentioned in Lev. 20:19-21 do not require the death penalty, Ibid., p. 202. However, they are mentioned to show they are still very wicked in God's view.
- Capital punishment was to be performed either by stoning or by what the Jews interpreted "burning" to mean -- the pouring of molten lead down the guilty party's throat, Ibid., p. 202; Lev. 20:2b, 14.
- Having laid out the stand and its rationale for capital punishment, God exhorted the people of Israel to avoid such sins against God's image in no uncertain terms, Leviticus 20:22-27:
- In concert with God's words in Leviticus 18:24-30, God ordered the people of Israel not to practice such capital offenses as the land would "vomit" them out in divine judgment, Lev. 20:22.
- It was because the Canaanites had practiced these that God had judged them to be destroyed out of the land, 20:23; hence, God wanted Israel to avoid these sins in no uncertain terms, Lev. 20:24-27.
Application: Capital punishment is not a HUMAN-AUTHORED institution, for then it appears to be inhumane and unjust. Rather, Scripture reveals GOD instituted this punishment since man is created by God in God's image, so the creature's sin against God's image requires his life be forfeited!