Scripture: Acts 5:But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; 2 with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? …You did not lie to us but to God!” 5 Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died…7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died…
Observe: Wait, what? The couple withheld some cash and were struck dead in front of everyone? Reading through some of my bible resources there are multiple explanations of the couples’ misdeeds and why they were so egregious. They pledged proceeds of their land, then later reneged. And they lied about it. Is that commendable conduct? No, of course not.
But a death penalty?
It’s important to note that Peter was not the one who pronounced judgment, but was only naming aloud what was about to happen. My surprise about God’s actions here stems from passages like this one from Matthew:
“21 Then Peter came and said to (Jesus), “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
Ironic it was Peter who received this guidance from the Lord, then was the one who presided at the death of Ananias and his wife.
Application: Sometimes the Lord confuses me. Like today. Considering the teachings of Jesus about forgiveness, the Lord’s actions appear to fly in the face of his own guidance given through Jesus Christ. It seems so arbitrary. Then again, I’m not feeling well today (cold coming on – your prayers are welcome) so I’m probably not thinking clearly either. But I look forward to the day when I might ask the Lord directly what the heck was going on here. And lots of other things too. Like why in the world did God create mosquitoes?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us grace to discern you will and ways. Sometimes it’s really hard. And Lord, please restore the health of all who are a bit under the weather. We don’t wanna be sick at Christmas. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.