“Life for life” (Deuteronomy )
Recently I have been studying the topic of evil. Capital punishment has been the big issue being addressed which is addressed in Deuteronomy 19. Not really an exciting topic but since I started the study it makes complete sense. God designed it therefore the ultimate thought behind capital punishment is a righteous and holy design.
No doubt capital punishment is a hard topic to address. We have seen people wrongly executed and some others get off the hook when the evidence is clear. The media definitely helps the general public sway one way or the other in making a decision. Most of us have an opinion when a big case is shown on TV all day long or in the news because it is what we see and hear about non-stop. The judge and jurors have much to think about as the public weighs in with its opinion. But not all court cases are broadcasted for the world to see. I read our local news and hear of homicides that take place and very rarely are they broadcast all day long. Normally it is mentioned briefly on the news that night. The report normally comes in when the police or FBI have found the suspect. The murderer is then brought before the judge to face trial. Evidence is presented, attorneys examine, witnesses testify and the jury makes a decision. Until the case is finished the alleged murderer is locked up during that time. Verdict: Not guilty. He walks free. Verdict: Guilty. Life in prison or the death sentence.
Why? What’s the point behind this process? Life in prison is one thing but why would we take the life of another human? I know the Bible talks about premeditated murder being grounds for the life of the murderer to be taken away from him as well. But we don’t live in
’s time. No one is executed for adultery anymore. No child is executed for speaking back to their parents. Why would this command continue? “Life for life” is not just a concept here in Deuteronomy 19 but goes back to Genesis 9 right after the flood. “From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image’” (5-6). The reason behind “life for life” is the fact that man is more valuable than anything else created. Man is superior over the land, sea and animals. We are distinct because we are created in the image of God. The consequences are greater because of being made in God’s image. It has everything to do with God’s value. Capital punishment is still in play because God commands it. The process is not perfect because sinners are involved but we must do our best to honor God’s perfect design of “life for life.” Israel
Capital punishment has everything to do with the value of the One whose image we are created in. It’s not fun, simple or easy but it is commanded. It is right. It is a display of God’s holiness. When we read of “life for life” we should be reminded that this is God’s plan. It is his plan as a consequence for sin. But “life for life” should also take our minds to another substitution. It should take us to the most important murder that ever took place. We should look to the death of Jesus Christ. The crazy part about this substitution is the fact that the perfect Son of God died in the place of those who were once “haters of God” (Rom. ). In capital punishment the murderer’s life is taken because they have taken the life of another. In the gospel the only innocent man to ever live dies in the place of those who are his murderers. He dies so his enemies may become his sons and daughters. He dies so his enemies can come sit at his table with him. This is something that is truly impossible to comprehend. In Christ temporary life is exchanged for eternal life. Better yet eternal death is exchanges for eternal life.
Grace upon grace,