Why Did Moses Recommend Death As Penalty For Certain Sins In The Bible?

It's not rocket science to know that certain types of sin attracted death penalty in the Bible.

When you read through the Old Testament, the man who was seen as God's spokesperson, Moses, commanded that people should be killed for committing certain types of sin.

In fact, I took time to search through the writings of Moses and I discovered that between Exodus to Deuteronomy, the words "put to death" appeared 42 times.

Out of those 42 appearances, 40 were direct instructions from to Moses to the Israelites to kill someone for committing one sin or the other. Other renderings of the same instructions like "stone to death", "utterly destroy", 'burnt to death" and many others are not even part of these 42 appearances. If all of those are to be included, the number will be nothing less than 100.

Some Of The Commands In The Old Testament

The following are some of those instructions:

  • Exodus 21:12 KJV He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
  • Exodus 21:15-17 KJV 15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. 16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. 17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
  • Exodus 22:19 KJV Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
  • Exo 31:14-15 KJV 14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
  • Leviticus 20:2 KJV Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
  • Leviticus 20:10 KJV And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
  • Leviticus 20:13 KJV If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

If you paid attention to some of those verses listed, you will notice that he recommended death for things such as cussing or insulting one's parents, not observing the Sabbath day, homosexuality, adultery and fornication (on the part of ladies), practicing other religion and so much more.

They are so much that if you think you are free from one, you will discover that there are plenty of others to lead you to your early grave. As a matter of fact, if these instructions are to be duly followed, only a handful if any, will be alive today. No wonder apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:7 called the Law of Moses "the ministration of death."

"But Why did Moses recommend death as penalty for several sins in the Bible? Why are there so many commands to kill someone for one thing or the other in the Bible?"

Let's take a look at some of the answers from the scriptures:

1. He Lived In The Dispensation Of The Law

Having observed Man's weaknesses for nearly four thousand years, the angel over Israel gave Moses the Law of 'Kill and Die' to tame their idiosyncrasies as they journeyed to Canaan, their promised land.

Galatians 3:19 KJV Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Act 7:37-38 KJV 37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.

Beginning from Mount Sinai, this dispensation of the Law of Condemnation and Death was ushered in by the angels over Israel through the hands of Moses. And it lasted till the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

To "force" man to abstain from wrongdoing, the Law promoted "eye for eye and tooth for tooth".

2. Under The Law, There Was Very Little Knowledge On The Operations Of  Evil Spirits And How To Cast Them Out

You'd notice that one of the basic promises of Jesus prior to His ascension, was that New Testament believers will cast out demons. This is something you'd never find an instance of it all through the old testament. There's not a record of Moses or other persons in their day casting out devils.

Every time they encountered demonic activities such as witchcraft, sexual depravity and others like it, rather than cast out the evil spirits in possessions of those persons, they opted to kill the people, believing that by so doing, the act will be stopped.

Now that worked for sometime. But the problem was that after a period of time, you'll discover the same spirit has jumped on someone else. Because you can only kill a person's body, not the spirit working in them.

A Better Way To Deal With Sin And Demonic Activities

At the appearance of Jesus Christ, we see a better and more effective way to deal with demons - you cast them out of people's bodies, saving the people in the process.

Regardless of how bad the people acted and treated Jesus in His day, there's not an instance of Him killing or ordering that anyone be killed for Him.

Despite all His power as God, He didn't command hailstones to fall on anyone, didn't rain down fire on His enemies or make anyone pay for not believing in Him with their heads on a spike!

Stop Killing People In God's Name!

Having understood what happened in the Old Testament and why death was considered an option to stop evil in the dispensation that they lived, why would anyone think of doing that today?

Why would anyone adopt the weakness of an old, archaic system of living as his primary way to live and end the "supposed" evil in the world today, after Jesus has come to show us a better way?

Why would you kill your neighbour because he's sinning differently from you or practicing a different religion from yours?

Why would you kill a man for an "Almighty" God? To please Him?

Such barbaric lifestyle is not for us to copy today! We have seen the lovely face of the True God and we know better today than the fathers did in their days!

Stop the madness already!

In the name of the true God whom you claim to be fighting for, stop!

Don't use the mistakes of Biblical characters (or that of any other book) as a license to commit murder and other crimes today.

In the name of Jesus, stop! And I say this in love!

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