Most people object to the violence in the Old Testament and, therefore, disregard Christianity. The Law requires stoning for many offenses that today are commonplace. We think of we have come far from the days of brutish, barbaric behavior such as that. To make the point, the objectors turn the table and ask the Christian if s/he thinks stoning should be practiced. That’s when the stammering begins. We forget that even though we live in a democratic republic, we actually live in a theocracy.
Theocracy is a form of government in which a deity of some type is recognized as the supreme ruling authority, giving divine guidance to human intermediaries that manage the day-to-day affairs of the government.Wikipedia
Whether society likes it or not, the entire world is a theocracy. The fact that our ruling authorities deny God only proves their rebellion and not that God doesn’t exist.
God send Israel to possess the promised land. To do that, they “dispossessed” it from those who were there. In this, God gave clear instructions to put to the sword all that lived there – man, women, and child. Why? Because their deeds were evil. Was Israel “good”? No. See Deuteronomy 9:4-8 for more on that. Look, God is the Creator and has the sole authority to make the rules. If he punishes by death on earth, that’s his prerogative. If he punishes for all eternity, that is as well.
Is God “just” when he does this? Most of society would think he is not. How about you, as a Christian? Do you think that God has the right to slaughter entire nations because he is tired of their behavior? Do you think he has the right to condemn the unrepentant sinner to eternal hellfire for his disobedience?
Israel obeyed God because they were told by him to do it. They had proof that he was who he said he was. All the plagues and their release from bondage in Egypt. The parting of the Red Sea. The provision in the wilderness. The columns of fire and smoke. The defeat of kingdoms outside of the Promised Land. The stoppage of the Jordan River. The fall of the walls of Jericho. They knew God, and he communicated with them.
Did they cringe and the thought of slaughtering everyone? Probably, but they obeyed. I’m sure they kept in mind the big picture.
Aren’t We Living Under Grace?
A common objection to capital punishment comes from the story of Jesus forgiving the adulterous woman. Did Jesus abolish capital punishment when he forgave the woman? After all, we are now living under grace and not the law, correct? Yes, Jesus’ death and resurrection abolished the ceremonial law. We no longer sacrifice animals for the atonement of sin because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice who offered himself up for those who believe.
Does Jesus abolish capital punishment? I don’t think so. It simply affirmed his position that he has authority to forgive sin. We all will be held accountable for our actions come judgment day (Hebrews 9:27). The guilty will be sentenced to the lake of fire while those granted mercy will be spared and enter the kingdom of God. (Romans 9:15-16, Matthew 25:31-46)
Most of the world thinks this is ludicrous. Again, even though we might disregard or ignore God, that doesn’t mean he’s given up control. We’re still living under a theocracy. Remember, Jesus’ resurrection is our ultimate proof that he is who he said he was. (1 Corinthians 15)
Choose This Day. Democracy or Theocracy?
Christians have no reason to cringe from the idea that we live under a theocracy. It’s perfectly reasonable if you are grounded in your faith and worked these matters through. Work out your salvation (Philippians 2:12) in fear and trembling. We have a rational, reasonable faith once you take the time to understand it.
"If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
Father, this is a crazy, rebellious world. Teach us your reasonableness. Let us reason together. Amen.
Copyright © 2021 Scott Powers