(13c) What does the Bible say about capital punishment ?
Book 3       LESSON TWO * PART I

Genesis 9:5,6

"And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."

That puts man head and shoulders over anything else in creation, because we were created in God's image and God so ordained that the life of His created man is in the blood. This carries through in all the animals and birds, also; but God puts the stipulation on the life of a human being as not being cheap, but rather, of intrinsic value to God. There are many areas of the world where life is cheap; where they think nothing of killing people by the hundreds and thousands. We've witnessed it profusely in the last several years - First, in Far East in the killing fields of Cambodia and Vietnam, and more recently in the Middle East. It is nothing new to the human race, but it is not the way that God ordained it. He declared that man was to be of intrinsic value, his life was not to be taken lightly, and if someone did take the life of a fellow human being, the stipulation was that the murderer was to be put to death by his fellow man. We call this, in the vernacular of Bible study, the instigation or the beginning of human government. In other words, before the flood, man didn't have the authority from God to control behavior by capital punishment or by incarceration in jail, or anything else. But, at this point, God designed that man would have authority over his fellow man (under God) and if a man were guilty of murder or some other crime, then the authority of human government was to take that person and deal with him accordingly.

"Capital punishment" has never been rescinded throughout Scripture. There are some things that have changed, but this still stands as God's law for the human race. Mankind, particularly sociologists, who hear me state this will probably "go into orbit;" they try to tell us that capital punishment is barbarian and is not fit for a civilized society. But, what is causing many of our problems? Why is crime increasing every day? I recently read in the Tulsa World that crime last year increased by 27%. It is doing so because we are not deterring it by a severe enough punishment. Let's look back at the New Testament, to Romans 13, again to compare Scripture with Scripture. Paul, writing to the Church in Rome, in particular; and the Church through the ages, in general, is laying out so clearly the role of government. We are blessed in America, and think that we have the best government in the world, but it has its weaknesses and problems. Even though it may be the best the world has ever seen, we're not to take advantage of it, but to recognize what a blessing good government is. Verse 1:

Romans 13:1

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."

"The Higher Powers" refer to government - the authority over us. God gives that power to rule us to the government. Even to a Saddam Hussein?!! Yes, ordained to them, too. Personally, I believe that this "Operation Desert Storm" war that has just ended might very well have been a fulfillment of Jeremiah 50 and 51, where the prophet describes the total annihilation of the nation of Babylon (which Saddam Hussein claims Iraq is).

Even Hitler was ordained of God! I've always said that the German people got just exactly what they deserved. Now, horror of horrors, I heard on the news recently, that there are now video games circulating among the young people of Europe, in which the role of the game player is the head of a concentration camp and the `point' of the game, is for him to put his subjects to death and cause them to suffer - the worse the prisoners suffer, the higher the player scores. This is simply preparing the world for the awful things that are to come upon human society. Nevertheless, the governments have been ordained of God for the good of Christian people. Many times they do not fulfill that calling, but as I said earlier, nations get what they deserve! If someday we loose our beautiful, democratic way of living, it will probably be because we've brought it upon ourselves. Paul continues:

Romans 13:2-4

"Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 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."

Whoever resists his local government, resists the plan of God! Whenever you meet a policeman, you shouldn't fear him (if you are a law-abiding citizen), but rather enjoy the sense of security that he is there to protect you. But, if you are a lawbreaker, you should feel terror, because God has ordained that he bring you to justice. We've lost that! Our young people have lost all respect for authority. Criminals know that statistics show that 70% of them can get out of jail within eight months of their conviction, so they have no fear of the authorities. The only thing that holds the fabric of society together, is a healthy fear and respect for the law - human government. Go back now to Genesis 9. As we see in verses 5 and 6, human government was established to maintain law and order, to protect the lives of the citizens; and in order to deter crime - murder in particular - God instituted capital punishment.

Any nation that practiced capital punishment in the past had a relatively low crime rate until they abolished it. One of the most visible examples of this is the nation of France. Until sometime in the 1970's, France still used the guillotine to execute murderers. They had so few murders in France each year that you could practically number them on one hand, But, … "society" said, "that's barbaric, it's a holdover from the dark ages," and so capital punishment there was abolished. Immediately, their murder rate skyrocketed like that of other nations without capital punishment. I am convinced that capital punishment is a legitimate deterrent to murder and major crime. We see so clearly in Genesis 9, what the Word of God says in this regard. The Word is true! I make no apology for it. The stipulation is made in verses 5 and 6:

Genesis 9:5,6

"And surely you blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."

This is why life is precious, and we're not to take it lightly or to make of it something cheap!

Les Feldick