“Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.”
Exodus 21 v 12
It is an undisputed fact that God commanded the Israelites to carry out the death penalty for murder (and 15 other offenses). In doing so he was merely repeating his previous command to Noah:
“And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”
Genesis 9 v 6
Yet many people argue that since Jesus’ death on the cross and the establishing of a New Covenant that the death penalty can no longer be applied to the present day. This is a bold claim that goes against the last 1900 years of church thinking (Calvin, Luther and Spurgeon all supported the death penalty to name just three). Therefore it deserves close inspection.
So let us examine the logical basis for this claim and the New Testament teaching on the death penalty.
I know exactly who is going to win the next election. But don’t worry I’m not going all ‘charismatic’ on you and pretending to have the gift of prophesy. No, I know who’s going to win because there is only one logical possibility. I know who is going to win because I know Daniel 2 v 21. I know that God will win the next election. God wins every election.
It’s incredible if you think about – when you walk into that polling both there’s no name on the card saying ‘God’ for you to put your cross against. And even if there was then I can guarantee you there would be few that would vote for him. In fact, I think it’s a fair bet that a lot of people in this country would get incredibly angry if they knew that God was going to win this election.
When people think about God then they usually have two pictures in mind. First is that of some impersonal deity that set the universe in motion and is now concerned with other things and is completely apathetic about what is happening on Earth. The other view is that of the Greek and Roman gods and their immoral lifestyle, fiddling with the lives of humans just because they could, spending their time eating, drinking and having sex.
Neither of these two viewpoints have any grounding in Biblical truth. But this begs the question: what does God do all day?