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Under God’s law, people are also to be responsible citizens and not put others at unnecessary risk. This is made clear in an example given in Exodus 21.
Exodus 21:28 and 29
(28) If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible.
(29) If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.
In the biblical culture, many people owned animals. It could easily happen that someone would have a bull that was known to gore, but who thought it was too valuable to kill. This law was put into place by God to protect society from unreasonable people. The owner of the bull was free to take the risk that he could keep the bull penned up and away from people, but it was a huge risk. If the bull got free and killed someone, then the owner of the bull was executed. Laws like this may seem very harsh to us, and James Jordan comments on that:
Perhaps to our modern ears they may seem harsh, but we must be careful not to accuse God of sin. He gave these laws, and regardless of whether or not we should keep them today, surely they reflect His goodness. Doesn’t this harshness serve to show us that we have too lax a view of sin? Also, have our modern loose laws done us any good? Modern humanistic law is soft on the criminals and harsh on the innocent. Biblical law is harsh on criminals and thus protects the innocent, the widow, the orphan, the poor and the law abiding. 
Jordan’s statements are right on target. Our society is unsafe in many ways that could be corrected if citizens refused to put up with the failure of the laws we now have and decided to give God’s laws a try. The Bible makes it clear that God highly values a safe society. If someone knowingly endangers others in neglectful and unnecessary ways, God gave the command to execute that person if his or her neglect and lack of caring cost another person’s life.
It is important to realize that the examples God uses in the Bible are to be a guide to help us understand what His justice is and how to administer it. There is no way God could write out specific laws for every circumstance, so He gave us examples to learn from. This is actually clear in the word Torah itself. While most people believe that the word Torah means “law,” any good Hebrew lexicon will confirm that a better translation would usually be “teaching” or “instruction.” There are Hebrew words such as dath and mitzvah used in the Bible for specific laws or statutes. The Torah was to provide teaching and instruction that would point us in the correct direction, not to provide a specific statute for every crime.
There are areas in our American communities where people are afraid of dangerous dogs and cannot comfortably let children play. In a truly biblical society, that fear would not exist, because few people would keep unsafe animals if they knew for a fact that the owner would be executed if the animal killed someone. The owner of a dog that had bitten a person would undoubtedly have the dog put to sleep rather than risk being swiftly executed because his dog attacked and killed someone.
Many countries, particularly America, also have a huge problem with drunk drivers. Every year thousands of families grieve the deaths of loved ones who have been killed by drunk drivers, and we put up with this in our society rather than enforce the penalties that would be required by God’s law. A drunk driver knowingly places another person’s life in danger and would perfectly fit the model of Exodus 21:28 and 29. If every drunk driver who took the life of another person were speedily executed, few countries would have a drunk driving problem. James Jordan is correct when he says that, “Biblical law is harsh on the criminal and thus protects the innocent.” God invented people and society, and He gave us an “instruction manual” so we could have a wonderful society. We ignore God’s laws at our peril, and the dangerous society in which we live is proof enough of that.
That we have seen thus far from the Old Testament is clear evidence that God does support the death penalty. The health and safety of families and society is more important to Him than the “freedom” of the individual to harm others.
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