Mr. Hunt,


I asked you if God had less mercy on first-time offenders in order to set an example, and you said that you didn't think so.  What about the case of Ananias and Sapphira?  They were first-time offenders recorded in the New Testament of their particular crime, and no more people are reported as having been killed by God for the same crime.


Answer


Your question I took as a "general rule" by God..... so I said no do not think so.


Then of course as I've shown in studies, there is always, well nearly always, an exception to the rule.


I do not think God was working on some "less mercy on first offenders" rule. It was a serious sin with Ananias and Sapphira; God looked upon the heart of them both, it was obviously not good. They could have confessed, repented, and been shown mercy. Being the first offence of such a sin, well for them [we don't know who else committed the same sin], but it is written God is no respecter of persons; God looks on the heart; their's was not good; hence it was death for them. Sure such would have been an example for others not to lie to the Holy Spirit of God....towards God. The Bible is not a text book on "all first particular crimes and their reward from God." God does use "math" - 7 is completion - 7 days to the week; 7 last trumpets and so forth, but the Bible is not a text book on "Math."  We should not read into things where God is not "into that" - if we do as some have done down through the centuries, we often come up with doctrines that are false. It's the idea of trying to read into "everything" some "hidden meaning" - Origen was famous for so doing; for him everything had a hidden meaning, something greater than just the words written. Hence all kinds of silly and crazy ideas of theology can be taught if you were of Origen's mind-set. 


We are not told if there was any others guilty of the same sin as Ananias and his wife; could have been, we are just not told. If there was we are not told how God dealt with them. The main point in God having this sin recorded and the punishment of Ananias and his wife, is to tell us that un-repented sin will result in death....sooner or later.


Okay let me give you my example. 


As a kid growing up in the Church of England school and very regular in Sunday school, I had read the example of Ananias and his wife for years, read it many many times over those years. What as a kid and teenager did I get from it? It was a sin, lying to the Holy Spirit; there was no repentance; it was a calculated plan of sinning; Peter was supernaturally given insight as to their sin; obviously their heart was not right. God in his justice, knowing the heart of them both, said they should die; it was God who made that decision, as he has the right to make. And yes it was an example for the rest of the church, that if the heart is not right, God does have the power and the justice to execute death. THAT WAS IT! I READ NO MORE THAN THAT INTO THE HAPPENING.


I also had read as a kid, the death of the man breaking the Sabbath under Moses; and Moses going to God to get the answer of punishment of death. Again as a kid I said well God knew the heart of the man; and his heart deserved death. Sure I also realized it was a lesson also for all Israel, that God knows the heart and he has the power to deal with it as he sees fit. But I never read into it any more than that. Again we must remember the Bible is not the "all in all" textbook on Sabbath breaking; who, when, and how, and how God dealt with all individuals on that sin. We are given some few examples that Sabbath breaking is sin....an example of one man dying from that sin, and then for Sabbath breaking and some many other sins, all the house of Israel went into captivity. It shows us God is serious when it comes to sin....the end thereof is death. But that is it, read no more into it, it is quite enough to gain from it just what I said, and what I could understand as a kid and teenager. It is the "little child" attitude that Jesus spoke about, not having it, you do not enter God's Kingdom. It is also as Jesus said, "I thank you Lord that you have hid these things from the wise and the prudent and have revealed them unto babes."


Keep reading of the Bible simple; yes we are to put verse with verse, read ALL the Bible. But do not look for hidden meanings on plain simple verses. Remember God is fair, he is no respecter of persons, and he can see very clearly the heart of man/woman. He is merciful to those of right heart. He gives us enough examples of sin leading to death, to get the point across to us that UN-REPENTED sin leads to death.....sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but in the end it is death for sinners who will not acknowledge their sin and will not repent. 


And it is written God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever; meaning his character of love, mercy, justice, reward, judgment, is the same in every age.....he then has the right to see the heart and reward accordingly in his time, be it sooner or be it later.


Question


While you're at it, could you answer this next question?  There must have been other people guilty of the same crime as Ananias and Sapphira and who had the same hearts, but God didn't kill them.  There are people who today knowingly break the Sabbath, and who have the same hearts as the man who broke the Sabbath in the Bible that God told Moses to kill, but God isn't killing them today.  Why is this?


Answer


Maybe there was others like Ananias and Sapphira, we are not told, so it is an unanswerable question, as it would only be on assumption. Then if we do go with the assumption, we still can not answer it in any definitive way, why? Simply, it is not recorded for either supposition.


The Bible is not written to give us the "low-down" on any particular sin, anywhere, at any time, with whoever. The writers of the Bible books were not inspired to do this: "Now Ananias and Sapphira were guilty of lying to the Holy Spirit.... ah yes and so were......." Then the writer goes off into naming people from all over the place, and telling us in detail how and when God punished them. The Bible is not about such sinners of the same sin near and far, and how God dealt with them. Hence the question is not relative to the sin at hand, it is an assumption question. And our assumption answer would be folly to deliver, especially when it is written, paraphrasing, "My thought are not your thought; my ways are not your ways, for as the heaven is higher than the earth, so are my thoughts, and my ways, higher than yours.


The second question is more realistic, about people breaking the Sabbath, and not being killed.


The answer is partly found in Paul's Romans 2:1-11. Note v. 3-4. God often does not hand out punishment immediately, but in his goodness, forbearance, longsuffering.... not realizing that God's goodness [in not punishing immediately] is his goodness to lead you to repentance. We see in the Bible that God most of the time works in longsuffering of sin. This is clearly seen as we read the whole Bible, and just by looking at the sinful world of today. Paul knew this and was writing to the church at Rome about it. This is the "general" way God works in the history of mankind. BUT there are exceptions to the rule, or norm. It is God who decides the exceptions - who, when, and how, those exceptions will be. Some we can with somewhat logical thinking come close to seeing. Okay example: the correct Sabbath day was revealed to Israel under Moses. It was a new truth, a new revelation to them. They, or many of them, would as today, think this is a "least" commandment to obey. Thinking surely God ain't that fussy about this commandment. A man with a wrong heart, no repentance at all, breaks the Sabbath....well Moses is not quite sure himself if he's breaking the Sabbath command; he has to go to God for the answer..... the answer is given - death for an un-repentant sinner. Now WOW...that must have made the Israelites stand up and take notice for sure, they would have seen, God means business - un-repented sin leads to death, even not observing the Sabbath leads to death, unless repented of, and then obeying the command.


So within the context we can see why God chose to use this man as an example. I've said before that "death" to God is not the big deal as death is to us.... for God will resurrected everyone in due time, and all will have their spiritual blindness removed.


We have an exception to the norm here by God.....no longsuffering given. It is an exception for God normally has longsuffering as we see Paul telling the church at Rome. Paul is giving them the overall rule or norm with God, but as we see at times in the Bible, there are exceptions. But the exceptions play into a very good purpose. God only uses exceptions for a purpose.


Now all this raises still more questions about God: well he's unfair, what right does he have to use an exception with this person and not another person, well God plays favorites, and etc.


The answer to all those now raised questions is answered by Paul, pretty up-front, pretty in your face, in Romans chapters 9-11. All need to read these chapters in say a modern translation, maybe a number of modern translations. Note chapter 9:18-19. Now read that slowly, let it sink in. WOW.... the truth of the matter is.... who are you oh man to tell God what he can or cannot do, or when he can do it, and with whom he can do it???


The bottom line is that on SOME things, we have to "but-out," we can not stick our nose into God's business, we cannot tell him what to do, when to do it, or with whom to do it. God is God, we are just the clay, he is the potter. His ways are much higher than our ways. He sees the end from the beginning. He has power over the clay. Physical death to God is as nothing, for he can raise the dead to life. It is written, said by Jesus himself, that God will raise all the dead to life again - John 5. Paul also said, that on some things we look through a glass darkly, we just do not, able not, to see it with God's eyes and mind, for now. One day we will, he said, for we shall know as we are known.


So God is in charge, he's the potter; yes he has a "general way" of working with mankind, but he has the power and authority to make exceptions, but he does it for a purpose, sometimes we can't see or understand fully that purpose; and so as it is written we live by faith; we have faith that he does exist, made the whole universe, made mankind, has a purpose for mankind, is shaping the clay, in his way, at his time, to finally bring about his master-piece - billions of humans born into his Kingdom, part of his very family.


Yes, sometimes we cannot answer fully all the questions we may have about God, and how he works his work here below.


That was what Paul was trying to teach the church at Rome in Romans chapter 9-11. God does what God does, when and how and with whom God does it. We have to just say, "Okay God, you are the potter we are the clay. We know it will all work out for the best in the long run."

..........