Daily Thought for: 23rd February
EVERY MAN SHALL BE PUT TO DEATH FOR HIS OWN SIN
2 Kings 14. 1-7
There were occasions in the history of the nation of Israel when God’s judgements ran on through the succeeding generations of those who hated Him; Exod. 34. 7; Deut. 5. 9; cf. Num. 14. 33. It is important to note that, in most instances at least, the children themselves are portrayed as continuing in the sinful and rebellious ways of their fathers. See, for example, ‘they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them’, Lev. 26. 39; ‘I… will recompense … Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord’, Isa. 65. 6-7; ‘when … this people … shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? … Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the Lord … and ye have done worse than your fathers’, Jer. 16. 10-12.
Clearly God held fathers responsible for the sinful examples they set to their offspring, and held them partly responsible therefore both for the sins which their offspring committed and for the judgements which befell their offspring in consequence.
But the Lord never permitted human judges in the Jewish legal system to inflict capital punishment on any persons other than the actual offenders. God’s law was crystal clear on the matter: ‘The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin’, Deut. 24. 16.
One of the requirements for kings in Israel was that they both read daily in God’s law and obeyed it; ‘it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them’, Deut. 17. 19. Amaziah, king of Judah, was no exception. As king over God’s people he was subject to God’s word. In dealing with Jozachar and Jehozabad, the men who had killed his father Joash, 2 Kings 12. 20-21, in obedience to God’s express command, he spared the lives of their children. Lord, give me an obedient heart also.