It’s interesting to look back at the Levitical law and look at the punishments for the crimes– especially given where we are today in our societies and what we view as appropriate punishments.
In order to get perspective, remember that the first murderer– Cain– was not given the death penalty. God dealt with him directly, and instead of killing him on the spot, God cursed him, but let him live.
Yet it is not much later that God institutes the first law (other than “obey God” ) when God commanded a life for a life.
In fact, God goes on to command in Numbers 25:31 that there should be no ransom that can be offered for the life of a murderer– the person must be put to death.
But the punishment was death was for more than just the murderer:
- If you give your child as a sacrifice to Molech (Lev. 20:2)
- Whoever curses his father or mother (Lev. 20:9)
- Whoever commits adultery, sexual relations in a family, homosexuality and other perversions.
- If someone is a wizard or witch (Lev. 20:27)
- If someone blasphemes the Lord (Lev. 24:16)
- For murder (Lev. 24:17, 21)
These things were in the government that God established for His people. He also commanded them to eradicate those people that were in the land when they came upon for the wickedness that they had done, and had wiped the entire earth clean except for one family at one time in Earth’s history.
Suffice it to say that God hates sin, he cannot stand it in His site, He is merciful and patient but He is also Holy and Just. These were the laws put into place for His people that were going to be called by His name and were to bear His standard. He knew the influence that these elements could have in society, and His laws made sure that they would not survive and be allowed to effect His people.
As you look over these things, think about some of the problems that we have in our culture today that may not be there if these rules were in place– and I’m not saying because we killed a lot of people, but because the deterrent (a strong one) would be there. Committing adultery would be a capital offense instead of something glamorized. Rebellion in children would be something that would be avoided. No wizardry or witchcraft. No murders or abortion.
One immediately thinks that God’s radical or unjust in these laws, but if you look, they address many of the areas that have lead to cultural demise and are written all over our current society. I’m not saying that we should push Congress to pass legislation to enact the Mosaic Law. What I am asking you is to look at the law and realize that it was there for a purpose, and that we need to realize what God is trying to tell us about ourselves, about sin, and about holiness through the law.