Can we throw rocks at unbelievers, or do we save that for the Pharisees?
This essay deals with Deuteronomy 12. The question is whether or not we should kill unbelievers, in light of this passage. This passage is where God tells the Israelites to wipe out the pagan nations when they enter Israel. The main danger here is to make sure that we put everything in a Biblical context. This means that we can not take one passage without taking the rest of the Bible with it. Please comment on this and tell me how you think I did. I’m going to tell you right now that I do not believe that we are to kill unbelievers, just because they are unbelievers.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were about to enter what was arguably one of the most depraved nations on the face of the planet at that time. God knew that if they did not kill all the inhabitants, they would be sucked into the same depravity. They did kill most of the inhabitants, but not all. All you have to do is look at the Bible’s account of their history to see that those few were all it took to lead to the annihilation of Israel.
The years until Christ’s arrival were dark ones for Israel. However, they did their best to follow God’s law. Every time they came out of exile, their joy would lead to more disciplined following of the Law. The problem was that the next generation, who did not have that joy, would follow the law with the same discipline, but with no heart. This led to the Pharisees, who made their own rules, and placed them above God’s word. “He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?’ For God commanded, saying, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.”But you say, “Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God’ — then he need not honor his father or mother.” Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. (Matthew 15:3-6, NKJV) More rules meant more punishment, and that was something Jesus condemned.
We hear the law in Deuteronomy, and wonder at the seeming change of heart God had when Jesus said that the death penalty should only be inflicted by those who are without sin. The answer I am about to give may be grossly, horribly wrong, but it is all I can come up with. When God spoke in Deuteronomy, He was trying to emphasize the fact that the penalty for sin, which is being legally wrong in God’s eyes, is death. When Jesus told the Pharisees that only the sinless should kill the sinners, he was showing that only God truly has that authority. In light of this context, I think that it is safe to say that we are not to kill unbelievers.