Death penalty: Foundation of government

By Joseph Farah

Capital punishment is back in the news.

There were actually those who protested the execution of mass-murdering Islamic terrorist John Muhammad, just as there will, no doubt, be those who protest the execution of mass-murdering Islamic terrorist Nidal Malik Hasan.

More alarming to me is what appears to be an increase in people saying that capital punishment doesn’t square with their “Christian faith.”

Let’s get something straight: There are few things the Bible is more clear about than the fact that God commands us to put murderers to death.

Not only does he command it, but he says that failure to do so results in the land being “polluted.” God doesn’t care about carbon dioxide emissions. He doesn’t believe in “man-made catastrophic climate change.” He doesn’t fret about recycling. But he does care about the pollution that comes from failure to heed His commandments.

God prescribed capital punishment for murder 100 percent of the time after the Flood. You can read about it in Genesis 9:6 in His instructions on governance to Noah: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

That was a key part of what we call the Noahic Covenant – God’s rules for governance of the post-Flood world.

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One thing you will notice about that covenant is how few rules there really were. It seemed the basis for all the law given to Noah was not killing your neighbor. And if someone did, he needed to be put to death. Pretty simple. Pretty reasonable. Especially when you consider God’s reasoning, which He offers – “for in the image of God made he man.”

The reason capital punishment was necessary, God explained, was because human life was so special. There had to be a blood atonement for the death of an innocent man or woman.

Today’s anti-death-penalty activists have it exactly backward when they claim executing murderers cheapens the value of human life. It’s the opposite, God Himself told us in Genesis.

But that’s hardly God’s last word on capital punishment.

There’s a much longer and detailed explanation of the absolute requirement for the death penalty in God’s economy in Numbers 35. That’s where we learn that the land is actually polluted by the unatoned shedding of innocent human blood. There’s more in Deuteronomy 19. Some of today’s queasy Christians might also be surprised to learn how many other sins required the death penalty under their God’s laws.

But maybe you’re one of those Christians who thinks all this death penalty stuff went out with the coming of Yeshua.

Then please explain to me what happened in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, who weren’t even guilty of murder – just simply holding back property and lying “to the Holy Ghost,” as Peter explained in Acts 5.

They fell down dead on the spot.

After all, as Yeshua said in Matthew 5:17-18: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Paul also asserted in Romans 13:3-4 that a just government is one that executes God’s justice: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Man can debate the justice of the death penalty from now until the Second Coming. But Christians? Please don’t call yourself by that name while suggesting that you are more just than the God of the universe – your Creator.

Further, I would suggest to you the big “take-away” from any biblical study of the death penalty would suggest that it is the very basis of God’s rules for governance on Earth. It’s the very foundation. Take it away and you take away the very underpinning of a Judeo-Christian civilization.