Divine Law

Penal Laws in Scripture

1. Introduction

In almost every country, crime is rising at an alarming rate and the authorities stand helpless in controlling it. Years ago reasons such as poverty, ignorance, bad housing and unemployment were put forward as the main causes for crime. But those arguments carry little weight these days. Modern criminals come from all classes of society: the rich, the educated, the upper classes and those in good jobs. No nation or social strata is exempt: all produce their share of criminals. Indeed the more wealthy, educated and sophisticated a society, the more dangerous the criminal it produces.

It may come as a surprise to learn that this rise in crime and violence was predicted in the Bible some two thousand years ago. Bible prophecy said that a rising crime rate would be yet another sign of the return of Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah). Carefully consider this passage from the New Testament.
2 Timothy 3: 1: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2: For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3: Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4: Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5: Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

verse 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

You will agree that this is an accurate picture of our day. And yet a similar state of affairs existed thousands of years ago in the days of Noah when God destroyed the world by a flood. In Noah's day sexual license and violence filled the earth and the Almighty's patience ran out. He wiped out the human race with a world-wide flood sparing only a few souls. Consider this passage from Genesis; the first book in the Bible.
Genesis 6: 11: The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12: And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. 13: And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

2. Imprisonment

The Creator has given mankind detailed rules for controlling crime. The AIM of this article is to bring a few of those rules to the reader's attention. In the past men have endeavoured to control crime by human methods, all of which have miserably failed. The rising crime rate in every country is proof that mankind, with all its boasted knowledge, is incapable of controlling crime. Currently the forms of punishment include: The oldest and, arguably, the most popular form of punishment is imprisonment. Criminals are locked away in jails for years at a time, many for their entire life. There are few countries on earth which do not have prisons of some kind and prison populations in most are rising. But is imprisonment the answer to crime? Many authorities now doubt it. Prisons they contend are: It may come as a surprise to learn that imprisonment is not the Almighty's answer to human crime. Nowhere in Scripture will you find divine commandments about locking human beings away in prison cells. The only prison built by God is a place known as the Bottomless Pit, the Abyss: a prison currently housing evil angels awaiting their Day of Judgement. Satan is scheduled to be imprisoned in the Abyss during the millennium. Currently there are no human beings in the Abyss or in Hell.
2 Peter 2: 4: For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment ...
Jude 5-6 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Luke 8: 30: And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep (Abyss).
Revelation 20: 1: And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2: And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3: And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

3. Penal Laws in Scripture

What, then, are the Almighty's directions for dealing with crime? After all it's one thing to lay down rules as to how we humans are to behave: it's quite another dealing with those who blatantly break those rules. Believe it or not Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel has given the human race detailed instructions as to how to deal with criminals. His penal laws are recorded in the Scriptures for all to see. But, strangely enough, they have seldom been applied by any nation - even ancient Israel. The reason was because the authorities (kings, priests and judges) were often as guilty as the law-breakers.

Nevertheless, Yahweh's laws are still on the statute books of heaven and every one of them will find fulfilment during the coming millennium. (see Section 6) Indeed heaven and earth will pass away before Yahweh's laws are cancelled. In short the laws of the Most High still exist and He is soon to demonstrate to the universe that they work when applied as directed. Listed below are a few examples of those laws.

False Worship

The first of the ten commandments is: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3)
The scriptural punishment for worshipping false (pagan) gods and for teaching others to do so is death!
Deut.13: 1: If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2: And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3: Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4: Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5: And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.


Blasphemy is contemptuous or irreverent talk about God, His Name and His sacred things. The scriptural punishment for blasphemy is death!
Leviticus 24: 16: And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.


The fourth commandment reminds us to keep the seventh day Sabbath. The seventh day Sabbath, incidentally, is Saturday not Sunday. For proof of this astonishing fact also see the SBS article Sunday: Is it the Christian Sabbath?

The scriptural punishment for breaking the seventh day Sabbath is death!
Exodus 31: 14: Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
15: Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Respect for Parents

Juvenile delinquency is a major problem these days. Many parents find it quite impossible to control their disobedient offspring. The command: 'Honour thy father and thy mother' is treated by youngsters with bemused contempt. Nevertheless here is Yahweh's law concerning the punishment of unruly children. Prepare yourself for a surprise; because the scriptural punishment for abolute disobedience is death!
Proverbs 23: 13: Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
14: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Deut.21: 18: If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20: And they shall say unto 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.
21: And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Exodus 21: 15: And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
Leviticus 20: 9: For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him ...


Yahweh's punishments always fit the crime. The scriptural punishment for murder, even that of an unborn child, is death!
Exodus 21: 12: He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
Exodus 21: 22: If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23: And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25: Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.


The sixth commandment says: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Millions of adults throughout the world treat this law with utter contempt. Adultery is extremely popular these days and is even advocated on the Internet. But did you know that the scriptural punishment for committing adultery is death?
Leviticus 20: 10: And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death."
Deut. 22: 22: If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.


The scriptural punishment for rape is death!
Deuteronomy 22: 25: But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:
26: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:


The scriptural punishment for homosexual acts is death!
Leviticus 20: 13: If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.


Bestiality is sexual intercourse between a human being and an animal. The scriptural punishment for bestiality is death!
Exodus 22: 19: Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.


Few people have not had something stolen. Theft, burglary and housebreaking are common these days. The scriptural punishment for theft requires the thief to pay the victim at least double the value of the goods stolen.
Exodus 22: 7: If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man's house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.
8: If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour's goods.
9: For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.

Exodus 22: 1: If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

The principle here is that repayment to the victim rises in direct proportion to the value of the goods stolen: the more valuable the goods, the greater the payment.


The scriptural punishment for kidnap is death!
Exodus 21: 16: And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

False Witness

Deut. 19: 16: If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
17: Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
18: And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19: Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.

4. Forgiveness

I must commend the reader for having read thus far. Most people will have switched off by now, muttering words like barbaric, ridiculous, farcical or obsolete. Others who respect Scripture will now know why the Apostle Paul wrote:
Romans 6: 23: For the wages of sin is death ...

Yes, violation of virtually every major commandment in Scripture attracts the death sentence! The Apostle was absolutely right when he wrote: the wages of sin is death! False worship, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, adultery, fornication, rape, murder and kidnap: they all attract the death sentence! Moreover, every soul on earth is guilty of breaking one or more of these sacred commandments. No one is free of guilt. In other words we are all under sentence of death, because we have all sinned! I repeat: We are all sinners under divine sentence of death! Many may delude themselves into thinking that Yahweh's laws are all obsolete: that they were done away on the cross by His Son. These folk delude themselves. On the Day of Judgement they, along with billions of others, will realise that Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel means what He says and says what He means: and that they are to be judged by these very laws. Now to an important question: Is the Almighty going to wipe out the whole human race because all of us have sinned and deserve the death sentence? The answer is: No, He isn't! The Most High is a Being of infinite love and mercy. He doesn't want any soul to perish: so he has made a way of escape. Christians through the ages call it the Way of Salvation: and it has been preached in virtually every Gospel sermon since the Saviour ascended to heaven. The Way of Salvation, also called the Gospel of Salvation, is the good news of how - by faith in Yahweh's Son you and I can escape the death sentence and live for all time. Details of the Gospel of Salvation and how you can escape the death sentence through faith in Jesus are given in our Everlasting Gospel Library.

5. Present Chaos

The world is suffering greatly for rejecting Yahweh's commandments. Crime is advancing in every country and the victims often include the wives and children of the criminal. Rape, murder, child-abuse, adultery, desertion, fornication and homosexuality now go virtually unpunished: or the punishments handed out are farcical to say the least. How often have you heard people say "The law is an ass." Just try to imagine the life-long disgrace and rejection by the community an innocent wife suffers when her husband is found guilty of rape. Think about the agonies of a faithful wife whose marriage is devastated by her husband's adultery or visits to the brothel! Pause awhile and consider - if you can - the torment of a parent whose child has been sexually abused. Ponder for a few moments the agonies of a man whose wife has been brutally raped and then murdered. Only the victims of such crimes are able to fully appreciate what I am writing. Politicians, solicitors, judges and juries should all stand aside - in silence: because few of them understand the pain of the victims and their cry for justice to be done.

If, as directed in Scripture, rapists, murderers and adulterers were put to death, their innocent wives would then be free to remarry without having to divorce. As man's laws now stand, these poor women are obliged to file for divorce (an act the Almighty hates) and then remarry while their former husbands are still alive (which scripturally renders them guilty of adultery). This travesty of justice, all too common these days, would not be the case if Yahweh's penal laws were applied. The sad truth is, as they now stand the penal laws of most countries are hopelessly inadequate. The punishments handed out seldom if ever fit the crime: and the victims, which often include the wives of the criminal, suffer life-long misery.

Will Yahweh's law ever be applied as He intended? I am delighted to tell the world via the Internet, that they will - during the soon-coming millennium.

6. The Millennium

According to the Oxford Dictionary "the millennium is the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth prophesied in the Bible." When we of SBS write of the millennium we do not mean the year 2000. We mean the Saviour's one thousand year reign on earth. Many events are scheduled to occur during the millennium: a time when Yahweh's laws (including these same penal laws) will be in force. Let me list a few facts about the coming millennium.

The Rod of Iron

Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the man child and coming king pictured in Bible prophecy. When he comes he will rule all nations with a rod of iron (His Father's law).
Revelation 12: 5: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
Revelation 19: 15: And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Overcomers to Rule on Earth with Christ

Christ's government will consist of overcomers who respect Yahweh's law. The Saviour's millennial reign over all nations will take place on earth: where else would you find rebellious nations which needed to be ruled with a rod of iron?
Revelation 2: 26: And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

Revelation 5: 9: And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10: And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Luke 19: 17: And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18: And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19: And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.

Every Earthly Kingdom will be under Messiah's Rule

Psalm 2: 1: Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2: The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3: Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4: He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5: Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6: Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7: I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8: Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9: Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10: Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11: Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12: Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

The Harvest Feast of Tabernacles

Nations that refuse to keep this feast during the millennium will have no rain and, therefore, no harvest. Carefully note this prophecy about the Saviour's return, his reign over all nations and his enforcement of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Zechariah 14: 1: Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2: For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3: Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4: And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5: And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. 6: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
7: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
8: And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
9: And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

verse 16: And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17: And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18: And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19: This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
For more details about the Coming Millennium, click here.


When you consider the penal laws of your own particular country, remember what you have learned in this article. It is of great importance: because we are fast approaching the millennium when divine law is going to be proclaimed from Jerusalem and administered throughout the earth.
Isaiah 2: 3: And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

To summarise we can say that: Remember to visit the Everlasting Gospel Library. There you will learn how to escape the death sentence that hangs over everyone who rejects Yahweh's offer of mercy through His Son.

SBS     Divine Law

Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
October 1996 ... Reformatted: December 1999