God’s laws are simple and direct, and nobody can mistake the reason for the penalty and the true justice of it. First consider God’s laws concerning theft. Why do some people steal? Obviously, in order to make a profit, to gain by the theft. If the amount stolen is big enough, the thief may be willing to spend a few months or years in prison for it. But God’s law takes the profit out of theft: the thief loses, not gains. Anyone who wrongfully withholds from the owner property entrusted to him for safe keeping, or property he has found, must not only restore the thing to the owner, but must also pay him one-fifth of the value of the thing. (Leviticus 6:1-5) But a true thief, one who got the property wrongfully in the first place, really takes a loss: if the stolen thing is found intact in his hands, he must restore double the amount of his theft (Exodus 22:4,9); while, if he has consumed the stolen thing, or has sold or otherwise disposed of it, he must restore from four to five times the amount of his theft (Exodus 22:1). That really takes all the fun and profit out of it.
Suppose a thief stole a $1,500 car and disposed of it before his capture. According to God’s law, the thief must pay back $ 6,000. But suppose he is defiant: he says “Well, I can’t pay it; so what are you going to do about it?” God’s law can do something about it: the defiant thief is sold into slavery for enough to pay what he owes. He is auctioned off in this manner: “Who will bid $6,000 for 1 year of this man’s labor?” If the thief is repentant and really wants to make amends for the wrong he has done, he probably will be a good worker and possibly someone will bid $6,000 for 1 year of his labor. But suppose he is still sullen and defiant: it will take a lot more than 1 year to get $6,000 worth of work out of him; there will be no bidders for 1 year, maybe none for 2 years, or even 5 years. The thief’s own attitude can make it either easier or harder on him, and the degree of punishment is proportioned to what he did. Also, the injured party receives compensation for all his trouble and the time he lost the use of his property.
Consider the crimes of assault and battery, and mayhem (inflicting serious bodily injury on another). Today, the law shows no connection between the crime and the punishment. Courts get in the habit of using the same routine penalty for all cases, even though there is a great difference between the injuries inflicted in the different cases. But God’s Law proportions the punishment to the offense: the wrongdoer receives the same injury he inflicted on his victim: if he knocked out a tooth, he loses his own; if he broke an arm, his own is broken; and so on. The moral is clear: if you value your own hide, leave your neighbor’s alone; if you don’t want your own arm broken, don’t wrongfully attack someone and break his arm. Even people who are dull of wit but sharp of temper, and who need some restraint, can get the point of God’s law; that is why God provided the same injury as the penalty, in Exodus 21:22-25, and Leviticus 24:19-20.
Once in a while, there is a case of a man who seeks to injure his enemy by making false accusations against him, trying to get the law to punish his enemy for something he never did. Again, God’s Law provides the right answer in Deuteronomy 19:16-20. The false accuser is to receive the same punishment he tried to have wrongfully inflicted on his enemy, whatever that might be. If he falsely accused his enemy of a crime punishable by a flogging, he himself was flogged; and so forth. (go to top)
There are many other crimes, very serious crimes, which are frequently committed, under our modern law which are becoming more common every year. I will not bore you with the statistics on how many murders, robberies and rapes are committed each hour of every day, in this country, besides they would be last year’s statistics and not as bad as this year’s. But these vast numbers of crimes are not committed by large numbers of people: on the contrary, a very few people, most of them habitual criminals, commit this great number of crimes. Our modern law has become so distorted that its main purpose no longer seems to be to protect society against the criminal but just to furnish highly paid jobs for a lot of fuzzy-minded do-gooder social workers to coddle these professional criminals. God’s law doesn’t make this mistake: its purpose is to protect the innocent from the wrongdoer. For willful murder, the penalty is death: see Leviticus 24:17. One who killed by accident, however, without any wrongful act, was not punished, and was also protected from any revenge on the part of the dead person’s relatives Deuteronomy 19:4-6.
For kidnapping, also for rape, the punishment was death Deuteronomy 22:25-27. It was intended that these vicious, loathsome crimes should be stamped out. Under God’s law, we could not have seen the spectacle of a man guilty of these crimes delaying his punishment for many years until he exhausted all the long-suffering patience of the courts. Death was the penalty and it was swift and certain; and the Bible says, “so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.” Even adultery was punished with death (how this would depopulate the cesspool in Hollywood!) Various minor crimes could be punished by flogging: but not more than 40 lashes. The State of Delaware has a statute authorizing flogging of robbers and burglars, but it has not been used for a long time. In 1922 the situation became so bad that the insurance companies that were writing robbery and burglary insurance all agreed to issue no more such insurance in the State of Delaware. This caused the Delaware courts to have robbers and burglars flogged; and in one year, these crimes were reduced to less than 1/3 of the former rate.
Under God’s law, all habitual criminals, who could not be reformed by such penalties, were not allowed to continue to harm the innocent, nor were they supported at public expense for life in some prison: death was the penalty for habitual crime. This, alone, would take care of most of our crime problem. Today most of our serious crimes are the work of habitual criminals. We still see large gangs of criminals running free in every large city, while our law must wait until after they have committed the robberies and murders they are planning: we must always sacrifice innocent victims on the altar of crime. This would not happen if we obeyed the laws of God! These criminal gangs would all be destroyed because they are habitual criminals, and the honest people of the community would have peace and safety.
The Bible records that, when our ancestors enforced and obeyed God’s laws, they had peace and prosperity, and were respected by the other nations. But Israel was condemned to captivity and exile because they abandoned the Laws of God and followed the Statutes of Omri as the 6th Chapter of Micah records. Today, we, too, have abandoned God’s Law and suffer the penalty of a frightful rate of crime, which is steadily getting worse. We have the record of 3,000 years of experience: man’s laws always fail; but God’s Laws alone will bring peace, prosperity and safety. When will we learn to make God’s Laws the law of the land, and reap the benefits of it?