Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Yeshua our Messiah. |
One of the most difficult Biblical laws to understand and even apply is the one about the rebellious son. It says, "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). This sort of law would very quickly solve the teenage problem in the industrial world!
This may sound harsh but we must not permit ourselves to judge God’s laws according to our own weakened sense of values. According to Hashem there are not ‘teenage pranks’, but, rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23). Actually, ‘teenagehood’ is an invention of our modern society. In Biblical days you were a man, or a woman as of the age of puberty, and from a youth one carried his own weight participating in the communities’ workload. There were probably much less teenage issues then.
The straight reading of this law can lead to abuses by unwise parents. As a result, Jewish sages wisely put such fences and stringencies around this commandment that Talmudic texts declare that “There never has been a case of a stubborn and rebellious son brought to trial and never will be”. Even without the protection of the sages though, the dynamics of parenthood make it impossible. Can you imagine two parents making that decision? Usually in parenthood, when one is through the other declares mercy. Isn’t that the case most of the time? Children always receive undeserved mercy from their parents. That’s why they need parents!
Why was this Law written then? The answer is found at the end of the verse, So … all Israel shall hear, and fear (Deuteronomy 21:21). It is good to have a healthy fear of breaking the Commandments of God, but without dire retribution, there is no need to fear. We also need to fear our Father, as though He redeemed us from certain death (Romans 6:23), we are not absolved from the results of our sins. Here is in a nutshell the nature of our Father, And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation (Exodus 34:6-7).
All in all we, each of us are this self-indulging stubborn and rebellious son who deserves to die, but even as at the foundations of the world He formulated the Torah, He also created Redemption (Proverbs 8:22-36; Revelations 3:14).
May we live in serve Him in everlasting gratefulness.
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