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Capital Punishment Under the Law (Exodus 21:14)

Introductory Thoughts

Although some things have changed, the Old Testament Law declares and expresses the mind of God. It demonstrates God’s hatred for sin and His desire for just judgment. Under the Law, men would be put to death for things such as murder (Exodus 21:14), witchcraft (Exodus 22:18), idolatry (Exodus 22:20), working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2), adultery (Leviticus 20:10), rebellion (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), and sodomy (Leviticus 20:13). Although all of these examples are not repeated in the New Testament as grounds for capital punishment, man can still see the way God feels about sin, not only its wickedness, but also how sin must be purged.

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): The Old Testament has many examples where God punished wickedness with death: Joshua 7:19-21, 25-26; 2 Samuel 1:13-16; 1 Kings 21:8-13, 17-19, 23. Even a pagan king recognized certain offences required death (Ezra 7:11-13; 25-26).
  • (For everyone): Are some of these sins mentioned again in the New Testament as grounds for capital punishment? If so, which ones can you find? How faithful are we as a nation to deal with these sins as God would have us to?
  • The Lord no doubt changed some things in the New Testament. Why is it still profitable to study the Old Testament?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Thank the Lord for placing such high value on life.
  • Ask the Lord to keep you from these sins.