Two of the fundamental truths about the Old Testament are these: it contains God’s laws, and it clearly defines the punishments for breaking those laws. The Lord is a God of justice, and therefore there must be penalties for breaking His laws, and those penalties MUST be carried out, or there is no justice. This may be obvious to you, but I just want to establish this as the foundation for what comes next, so please bear with me as I continue to follow a particular train of thought.
Chapter 20 of Leviticus is one such declaration of God’s punishments. These punishments seem harsh to many modern-day “believers”, and many have difficulty accepting them because of that. Some find it hard to accept death as the penalty for so many acts that are unfortunately commonplace within our society. But this does not make these punishments un-real or not true, or any less mandatory. These punishments are real and true and must be carried out, in all cases, or there is no justice. There is no sin that has been or will be committed, where the prescribed punishment of God will be reprieved.
Yet, sometimes there appear to be pardons of sorts, within God’s own words. For example: “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah, 44:22)
But through Isaiah, God later clarifies that He’s not talking about a true pardon; rather the penalty has been transferred to someone else…
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
“…because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)
God was talking about His only begotten son, who we know as Jesus Christ.
Yet many misunderstand what Jesus taught and the meaning of His sacrifice. It seems like some people think Jesus came to negate the law and prescribed punishments, and replace it with some milk-toast type of religion. Yet as He Himself stated:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.“ (Matthew 5:17)
“It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.” (Luke 16:17) As Jesus stated, the law must be fulfilled, as it is written in the Old Testament.
Now look how perfect God’s plan is: God knows there are none without sin and all deserve death, yet God promised Noah He would not repeat that punishment of old. So how could God’s law be fulfilled, yet in a way that holds to God’s promise to Noah? As you may know, Jesus brought the answer…
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
“For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” (John 12:47)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10
“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.'” “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34, 36)
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
God’s laws and punishments recorded in the Old Testament would be fulfilled and carried out, in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, for those who believe and who have asked forgiveness from God for their sins, the punishments have been lifted from their shoulders and loaded upon Jesus. Jesus bore upon Himself every death penalty, for every sin where God had prescribed death. Check out Leviticus chapter 20; that amounts to a lot of death penalties.
Now that I’ve presented the facts according to God, I will proceed to the main reason I am writing today. There are many who choose to loudly condemn sinners, such as those at the Westboro Baptist Church, of whom I have written about before.
Their rampant condemnation of sinners appears to be a blatant disregard of Jesus Christ and an apparent refusal to accept and believe in His sacrifice. Condemning a sinner who may have repented is like telling Jesus He died for nothing.
But another alarming reality is this: those who attack and condemn sinners, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, seem to assume that a particular sinner has not repented; yet how would they know that? True repentance can only be between that person and God, and it is God alone who can judge whether or not the repentance is sincere and from the heart. By taking that responsibility for judgment upon themselves, those who condemn are trying to be God!!!
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
Those who condemn sinners have sat themselves in the judges seat, yet we are called to be witnesses, not judges. As Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
I fear for the souls of those at the Westboro Baptist Church, and others who share their hate. They appear to set themselves up as judges, against the will of their savior Jesus Christ. On top of that, they appear to ignore the cross; the fact that Jesus has already taken upon Himself the prescribed punishment for every sin, for every sinner who believes and who has repented. They appear to ignore the reality of Jesus Christ Himself!