Moses' second speech, Part 7
Jul 24, 2012
The Fifth Commandment, Paul says in Eph. 6:2, is the first one that comes with a promise. It promises long life, which can be applied in two ways. First, it has to do with providing a general atmosphere in the nation that lengthens the average life span. Secondly, the "long life" promised here can be applied to the age to come when we receive the promise of immortality.
The primary application of this Commandment, however, has to do with its application "on the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Deut. 5:16). Hence, it has to do with our earthly life in the Kingdom of God. Keeping the law of God in a Kingdom nation reduces the crime rate, disease, poverty, and the tyranny of man's governments that so often add stress to men's lives and thereby shorten their time on earth.
In Exodus 15:26 God said that if Israel kept this law, "I will put none of the diseases on you, which I have put on the Egyptians; for I the Lord am your healer." Our healing is based upon the fact that Jesus Christ became our Passover Lamb, for Isaiah 53:5, "by His scourging we are healed."
The Egyptians, who did not keep the Passover, lost their firstborn sons in the tenth plague. God also told the Israelites that if they violated His law, "the Lord will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed" (Deut. 28:27). Ill health is the most common cause of shortened lives. America has the most expensive health care in the world while at the same time being among the unhealthiest countries. Most diseases are "managed" but never cured, and doctors treat symptoms with drugs but almost never address the root causes of those symptoms. In fact, it has become unlawful to cure disease, because cures would erode profits for the big pharmaceutical companies.
Meanwhile, chemical fertilizers drug the land itself, with side effects of infertility, deformities, and countless diseases that bring about shorter life spans.
All of this stems, in part, from the violation of the Fifth Commandment regarding respect for authority, because respect for parental authority is derived from the command to recognize the sovereignty of God over every nation and over all of Creation. When such respect is eroded, men create their own laws that run contrary to the law of God. They treat the earth as if there were no Creator and no divine ownership. Man's governments assume ownership over the land instead of maintaining the position of stewardship.
When man's governments were taken over by multi-national corporations, laws were changed to benefit big business and their profits, and this policy was sold to the unsuspecting public as a way to create "jobs." But Solomon said in Prov. 14:12, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
The laws of God promote life; man's laws promise life but promote death. Moses therefore instructs Israel in Deut. 30:19, "so choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants."
Obedience to the law, recognizing God's sovereignty and man's authority, will lengthen the average life span of the populace of any nation, simply because the laws of God were designed for our benefit and not premised upon any love of money on God's part. However, we recognize also that attaining immortality is only possible through Jesus Christ and the New Covenant. This does not dispose of the law, but the laws of sacrifice were changed from animal types and shadows to the one true Sacrifice that needs no repetition daily or yearly.
Modern humanist governments, which do not recognize the Creator above them, present life as the highest goal and therefore worship life itself, rather than the Giver of life. Biblical law recognizes life as a byproduct or result, rather than as a first cause. Life itself, therefore, remains subject to the law and is conditional upon obedience. For this reason, the death penalty for certain types of crime does not contradict the will or character of God.
The law generally demands restitution to be paid to the injured parties, and in cases where restitution is not possible, the crime calls for the death penalty. First and foremost, the death penalty is first designed to protect the innocent people from those who are violent. Secondly, because true justice is not done until all victims of injustice have been compensated, the death penalty recognizes the impossibility of paying restitution in the current world situation. Hence, the death penalty is really designed to put the offender into storage in a merciful, unconscious state until he is raised for judgment at the Great White Throne. Then and only then can his case be fully adjudicated in a way that earthly judges were incapable of doing.
For humanist governments, the death penalty is the end of a man's existence, and the horror of such a thought causes them to worship life, rather than to seek justice for the victims. Hence, abolishing the death penalty is the result of dethroning God and denying the existence of a resurrection, divine justice, and an afterlife. Men then become their own measure of all things, and this perspective causes them to dishonor their heavenly Father.
The death penalty is designed to prevent violent men from taking the life of the innocent. Thus, the divine law extends the lives of the many innocent, even as it shortens the life of the evil ones. Longer and happier lives are the result of this, even if the main purpose of the death penalty is actually judicial in nature.
When a child proves himself to be incorrigibly rebellious, and no amount of correction is sufficient to turn him around, he dishonors his parents in direct violation of the Fifth Commandment. By extension, he also violates the First Commandment on which the Fifth is based. If the parent is finally forced to admit defeat, because the son is to old (and strong) to discipline further, the parent has the right to bring him to the court of law for judgment. The law prescribes the death penalty for such sons (Deut. 21:18-23).
Of course, the very fact that such a law is on the books ought to cause a rebellious son to see the seriousness of his actions, repent, and submit to proper authority. It is hard to imagine anyone being so hardened that he would still refuse to repent even in the face of certain death. Perhaps that is why we have no biblical example of any son actually being executed for such rebellion. We have only Israel's example of national rebellion, for God had called His "son" Israel out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1). In that case God executed the death penalty upon the nation, causing it to "cease" (Hos. 1:4). This did not mean that every individual died or ceased to exist, but that the government itself ceased to exist as an independent nation.
So we see that God executed His "son" named Israel according to the law after many appeals by the prophets for repentance.
However, the law did not give any parent or family member the right of life and death over the children. The rebellious son was to be executed by "the men of his city" (Deut. 21:21) when the full judicial process was complete. This lack of parental prerogative differed from Roman law in ancient times as well as Islamic law today. As in many non-biblical cultures, a Roman father had the right to abort his child, to leave his infant to the wild animals, or to kill them as youths. Such power was based on the belief that a child's life was given to him by his parents, rather than by God. Therefore, those cultures gave fathers the right of life and death over their children.
This is the seventh part of a series titled "Moses' Second Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones