Deuteronomy 21:18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. 20 They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid.
Sounds pretty extreme, doesn’t it? Putting a son to death for being “stubborn and rebellious”? It’s a wonder any young man lived beyond adolescence. The purpose of the extreme nature of the punishment is stated at the end of the passage, “and all Israel will hear, and be afraid”.
It’s true that fear can be a powerful force to bring people into obedience, but I’m not sure how effective it is. I mean, there were all kinds of offenses in the Old Testament that were punishable by death, but the people rebelled anyway. Seems to me love is a better motivator than fear, especially as it relates to matters of faith.
Heavenly Father, it’s true that we are often “stubborn and rebellious” children. Give us grace to shape our lives after our Lord Jesus, in whose death and resurrection you showed the greatest love of all. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.