“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.” Deuteronomy 13:6-11.
Stoning is a barbaric punishment. It is part of the covenant God established for His people in the land He gave them. This was land taken from the last idolators who had it.
We don’t do this today. We have a different covenant and an entirely different ministry model. We go as heralds, declaring that God is no longer holding our sins against us because of what Jesus did for us. But was this punishment too much back then? And is capital punishment wrong today?
The short answers are no and no. Those who await execution have the luxury of knowing when they will die, and being aware of their need for repentance. If we are horrified by a brutal execution, we should be far more horrified by eternal separation from God. Today there is a separation of powers. The church is God’s ministry of Mercy. The government is God’s ministry of judgment. (Romans 13).