(Article for publication week of 7-16- AD 2015)
"For Moses said, 'honour thy father and thy mother;' and 'whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death'; But ye say, 'if a man shall say to his father or mother, 'it is a Corban, that is to say, it is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 'he shall be free.' ' And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things ye do" (Mark 7:10-13).
With the recent mass murders in Charleston, South Carolina, and some other recent happenings, the subject of capital punishment has been in the news and a subject of a number of op-ed columns. As always I am labouring to teach the word of God and convince our readers to consider "what saith the scriptures" and apply Biblical Truth to every area of life, and to think Biblically. The Law of God commands that capital crimes be punished by execution (Exodus 21:12). Whether or not execution is a deterrent to crime is in one sense beside the point. The point is that God requires the civil magistracy to be ministers of justice, and execution is the just penalty for such crimes as murder (Exodus 21:24-25). God has ordained civil government to keep the peace and administer justice (I Timothy 2:2; Romans 13:4). On the other hand, God has not ordained the civil government to provide for people's needs and every effort to use the power of the sword for such purposes is opposed to the Law of God. A State that desires peace and the blessing of God must submit to the Law of God. Herein is the root of the troubles in our State and the Nation- we have rejected the Law of God. (I say "we" collectively, for a few true men of God continue to cry out to all who will listen to submit to the law of God.) Chaos and disorder prevail because of the rebellion of our people and our ungodly "leaders." God's law requires that murderers, and other capital criminals be executed.
Now I refer you to our text and ask that you consider it prayerfully and carefully. I will have you to note first of all that the Lord Jesus called the words of Moses the "word of God." Our Lord accepted the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and affirmed that it is the inspired of God. In the Passage, our Lord quotes Exodus 20:12 and Exodus 21:17 saying "Moses said," and then in verse 13 he told the Pharisees that they made the "word of God" of no effect.
Secondly, note well that our Lord corrected rabbinical teaching and called the Jews back to the word of God and gave them the true meaning. Our Lord often did this, notably in Matthew 5:21-48. Our Lord never found fault with the inspired word of God in the Old Testament, nor with the moral, civil or ceremonial laws given in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The fifth commandment says, "honor thy father and thy mother," and one of the positive duties of the fifth commandment is that we care for our parents in their infirmities. The rabbis had falsely interpreted and applied the law of God by allowing a man to pretend his wealth was dedicated to some sacred use, thus relieving him of his obligation to care for his aged or infirm parents. Our Lord plainly told them that they were breaking the law of God by their false teaching and practice.
Thirdly, notice that our Lord taught that the civil code that God gave Israel as a State was in perfect harmony with the Moral law encoded in the Ten Commandments. The moral principle is "honour thy parents." The application is, "whoso curseth his parents, let him die the death," which is part of the civil law. The civil law of Israel was grounded in the moral law. It is the application of the moral law to civil jurisprudence. While modern States are not obligated to the civil laws of Israel in the same way as the now defunct nation of Israel, their general equity should be the basis of all civil codes (that is if a nation desires the blessing of God).
Finally, (and note very well) the Lord Jesus Christ gave His full approbation of the death penalty. I refer to this text because when we advocate capital punishment not a few will claim that it was allowed by the Old Testament, but not the New. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nowhere will you ever read where Christ or His Apostles condemned the death penalty. And in this text Christ gave His full endorsement of the death penalty for a capital crime, in this case cursing your parents. Read the passage again. The Lord quoted Moses (as an inspired oracle of God), upholding God's words, but condemning rabbinical tradition.
It is time for the LORD to work, for they have made His law void.