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D'varim/Deuteronomy 21:22 And if there is in a man sin for which the judgement is death, and you will cause him to die
Rashi points out that our Sages (see Sifrei 220) considered this as a pre-emptive strike, not only for the people of Israel but also for the person concerned. Rashi comments that if the man is pitied and allowed to live then, "the end will be that he will go forth to bad ways, and commit sins and become liable to the death penalty in court". The Talmud comments: "Let him die as an innocent person, and not die as a guilty person" (Sanhedrin 72a). There is an appropriateness about sin and punishment: if a sin has been committed then there is a penalty to pay, and simply overlooking it or pretending that it didn't happen doesn't help either the victim or the perpetrator of the offence. The oft-quoted proverb, "Spare the rod and spoil the child" (Proverbs 13:24), much beloved by those encouraging parents to administer suitable corporal punishment to their children, speaks the same truth: if an appropriate measure of discipline is not applied, by parents, by elders, or by society, then there will be a breakdown in family, congregational and general conduct leading to lawlessness.
The writer to the Hebrews tells us that G-d works on the same basis with us: "As you endure this divine discipline, remember that G-d is treating you as His own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined?" (Hebrews 12:7, NLT). G-d disciplines and shapes us to remove our imperfections and difficulties as He makes us conform to the image of Yeshua, His Son. When we step out of line, "the L-rd disciplines those He loves, and He punishes those He accepts as His children" (Hebrews 12:6, NLT). He pulls us up short and, as it were, fights with the world to get our attention, to establish relationship with us and then keep us from slipping away. He wants to get to us before it is too late!
All sin has consequences, as those who have had a serious addiction to drugs or alcohol know only too well. Even though they may be free of the addiction itself, then will carry the effects of the drinking/drug-taking for the rest of their lives, such as liver or brain damage. That is why Yeshua came and died for our sin: to take the longest-term consequences - separation from G-d - upon Himself and to pay that price for our sins, take that punishment that should have been ours, so that we could be saved from going from bad to worse. Rav Sha'ul wrote, "For G-d made Messiah, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with G-d through Messiah" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT). This is what Derek Prince called the Great Exchange: Yeshua took our place so that we might take His. The rod was not spared so that we as G-d's children should not be spoiled.
Further Study: Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 3:21-26
Application: Have you experienced the "Great Exchange" in your life? Do you know the freedom and blessing of having with with Yeshua at the cross? Don't delay in finding peace with G-d today.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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