The Supreme Court was recently debating the constitutionality of the death penalty. Actually, that’s what they should have been doing, but the rancor suggests that what they were actually doing was debating the morality of the death penalty. Any such august body which found a right to abortion under some “penumbra” of a right to privacy which itself is not even a constitutional right, and used that to interfere with Texas state law, resulting in Roe v. Wade (consequently millions of dead babies) has no business debating morality….but I digress, as usual. I used “right” three times in that sentence, deliberately. Finding more rights is what courts today think their job is. The Bible, on the other hand, is clear about the death penalty.
Eli was a priest in the lineage of Aaron, the Levite and the brother of Moses. God had appointed Aaron, and the Levite tribe, to minister before Him. Eli’s two sons were evil, once again described as “worthless”. Eli apparently didn’t believe in training his children or in discipline. After innumerable bad reports about his sons came to him, he finally rebuked them….sort of. “If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death‘.” 1 Samuel 2:25.
God himself declared a death penalty against them. But you say, “God can do that but man can’t?” After the great flood which wiped out the whole of humanity except for Noah’s family, God said to Noah, “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.” Genesis 9:5-7. Virtually every time in the Bible that God says someone should be killed, He also gives the reason “to purge the evil from among you.” Refusing to do that causes evil to breed and increase. “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 8:11.
God further says to Eli “I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?” 1 Samuel 2:28-29. “Honor your sons above me…” What a condemnation. How did Eli honor his sons above God? By withholding discipline from them, letting them do what they wanted. (Are you honoring your children above God?) They became worthless. What were the consequences of poor parenting, willful disobedience, failures to punish and restrain evil? The consequences, the effects of the preceding causes, were dire.
“Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever‘.”1 Samuel 2:30-35.
“And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.” 1 Samuel 3:13
Note that I didn’t answer my first question, “just born bad?” Is anyone born bad? I don’t know. The Bible does say “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” Malachi 1:2-3. Jacob and Esau were twins born to Rebekah and Issac. Jacob was a patriarch of Israel, loved by God despite his many faults. Esau was “hated” by God. When? Before he was born. Why? One day, Esau came in from hunting, he was famished. Jacob offered him stew in exchange for his birthright (of the firstborn). “And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!’ Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright now.’ Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?‘ Jacob said, ‘Swear to me now.’ So Esau swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” Genesis 25:33. I believe that sentence sums up born bad–exaggerating self, despising God and family and heritage.