Penalties For Breaking His Laws

Author and teacher, Dr. Howard Hendricks told the story of a young man who strayed from the Lord but was finally brought back by the help of a friend who really loved him. When there was full repentance and restoration, Dr. Hendricks asked this Christian how it felt away from the … More

Penalty

Chapter 20 deals with the sanctity of judgment, In this chapter God gives to Moses the penalties for breaking His laws. It is addressed to the community and states these penalties. The verses in this chapter explain the punishments for specified crimes. The crimes identified in this chapter receive the death penalty (Ex 21:12-17). The public sins against life, religion and the family were those which carried the maximum penalty of death. These included premeditated murder (Ex. 21:12), kidnaping (Ex. 21:16), sexual crimes including adultery (Lev. 20:10), homosexuality (Lev. 20:13), blasphemy (24;13-16), idolatry (Duet. 13;6-10), and persistent disobedience against authority (Duet. 17:12).

There isn’t a crime in the above list that would merit the death penalty in most nations today, including murder. However the biblical view of the law is different than the modern view. God gave His law to restrain sin and not to reform sinners. The penalties He imposed were for the purpose of upholding the law and not improving the offenders. As a Christian we want to see that laws are enforced justly but our main task is winning people to Christ. While law can be a light that exposes evil, it can never change the human heart. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can do that. The method of inflicting the death penalty is twice specified as stoning (vv. 2, 27) and once as burning (v. 14). Burning was hot lead poured down the throat. This may seem very harsh but it was to prevent sin from infecting the community life of God’s people.

Application

God is a just God and must punish sin. However He is also a loving God and that is why He sent His Son to die on the cross for my sin. I am so thankful that He is in control of the circumstances of all that happens in this life and all I have to do is trust Him.

Leviticus 20:1-27 (English Standard Version)


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