What I read today;
2 Thessalonians 3 & 1 Timothy 1; Luke 12; Daniel 8-9; Psalm 146; Job 28; Numbers 35
In Numbers 35, God continues to give Moses instruction for the division of the land. He turns his attention to the land for the Levites to live in. The Levites were to be Priests before God and therefore were not to own land. God was to be their sole reward as they served in the temple throughout their lives.
In the midst of this, a lengthy discussion occurs concerning the taking of human life. God discusses two situations.
The first situation discussed is the cities of refuge. Cities of refuge were set up to allow those who had accidentally committed murder to flee for protection. They were places where a sinner could find shelter. Once it was determined that the person had not willfully committed murder, they were offered protection from anyone seeking to impose the death penalty on them. The person could live among the community without fear of retribution. No one could harm them as long as they remained apart of that community.
We have a tyrant who accuses us. Our Consciences attack us daily. It points out to us that we have failed to live up to God’s standards. We hear the voices in our own mind, reminding us of past sins. Behind those voices, Satan sits and continues to tell us that we are unworthy of God’s grace and mercy. Guilt tells us that we deserve eternal punishment, not God’s love.
Thousands of years later, Jesus would walk up a hill carrying a cross. He would willingly allow himself to be nailed to that cross, and he would suffer separation from God. Jesus would take all of our guilt and shame upon himself, and Jesus would offer to each one of us a city of refuge where we, the guilty, could run. He would provide protection for all of us who remain in Jesus Christ freedom from guilt and shame. Ultimately, Jesus would bring us into his heavenly home where he would wipe away all the tears and shame that we had lived through!
The second situation discussed is that of a person who commits intentional murder. Murder is one of the most heinous acts human beings can commit. The Murder robs a person of his or her time of grace. Murder is the ultimate destruction of a family. The pain it causes is unconscionable. God prescribes the ultimate punishment for those who choose to commit intentional murder. But, he also specifies conditions on this punishment. In specific, Moses states that no person can be executed unless there are multiple witnesses. He also says that the rich and powerful cannot be given a free pass. In other words, if you are going to use the ultimate punishment, you must use it reasonably across all economic backgrounds and not favor even the rich and powerful. In other parts of scripture, it is prescribed that those who falsely accuse someone of a capital offense are to receive capital punishment for bringing those charges.
Because we fail to follow those three prohibitions, I personally believe we should abolish the death penalty in the United States. I believe there have been to many cases where a wrongfully accused person has been executed. Even if the numbers of unjustly executed persons are less than 1% as many groups claim, that is 1% too many. Also, capital punishment is prescribed against the poor and minority communities in much higher numbers than against those of higher economic standing. Many states do not provide mandatory DNA testing to ensure that a person has actually committed the crimes which he or she is accused of. So if you can afford to pay for the examination or provide the type of counsel that can push a court to order such testing, then you can obtain justice. If you can’t, you are out of luck. Finally, there is virtually no punishment for those who bring false charges against someone.
In my opinion, because we do not follow God’s guidance, the death penalty should be abolished.