Crime and Punishment by Douglas Jacoby

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.

I. PRINCIPLES OF CRIME & PUNISHMENT

Principle 1: God is a God of Justice

  • Ultimately all crimes against God (Psalms 51:4). What does the Bible say about crimes against man (person/ property)?
  • Proverbs 24:25, Ecclesiastes 8:11, Ecclesiastes 5:8-9.
  • The prophets spoke out against social injustice:  Elijah, Amos, John the Baptist, and many others…
  • Lex talionis: Limitation: a maximum, not a minimum. See Exodus 21:24, Matthew 5:38.
  • “Let the punishment fit the crime” – Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado (1885).

Principle 2: There will be a Judgment Day, and it will be Ffair

  • There will be an ultimate judgment – and it will be fair (Genesis 18:25; Luke 12:47-48; Romans 2:5, 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrew 9:27; 2 Peter 3:7; 1 John 4:17, etc).
  • Yet there may be a delay.
    • Habakkuk wondered…
    • Numbers 32:23.
    • 1 Timothy 5:24.

Principle 3: Moral Authority must Speak Truth to Power or No One is Above the Law

  • The prophets spoke out against social injustice:  Elijah, Amos, John the Baptist, and many others…
  • Jesus challenged leaders of his day. Reminded high priest, governor, and other authorities about some important spiritual principles…
  • There are times when believers must speak up — speak out!

Principle 4: Law is Good

  • Much of modern law comes from the Romans.
  • Even more may come from the Jews: property law, torts, worker’s compensation, litigation, etc (Exod 20-Deut 33).
  • Even studying OT law shows us God’s wisdom, providence and justice. Even though it is not the law of God for us, it is still the word of God for us, and we have much to learn!

Principle 5:  Civil Disobedience is Occasionally Justified

  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Daniel 3:18, 6:10 – obey government except when contradicts law of God
  • On the other hand, we should pay taxes, even if they’re unfair — we disagree with how the government chooses how to spend them. Give to those who ask you (Matthew 5:42). Insistence on “rights”?

Principle 6: The State has the Right to Punish Infractions

  • Fines, traffic tickets, etc
  • Imprisonment
  • Execution: Romans 13.

II. THOUGHTS ON INCARCERATION

  • Ancient times:
    • Temporary, awaiting trial.
      • Long-term – more likely for king’s prisoners. Or those rulers did not want to make martyrs of.
      • Paul (Acts 24, 28) and Joseph (Genesis 39+) are unusual in the length of their incarcerations.
    • Prisoners were visited by friends or relatives — fed, clothed, care for by them. The state did little (see Jeremiah 37-38).
  • Does our system of incarceration work? “Correctional,” or “penitentiary”? Or just a punishment?
    • It works poorly, though in some nations the penal system is more effective than in others.
    • Two extremes: soft and hard; focus on prisoners’ rights vs. focus on society’s rights
    • Reformation of character?
      • Not usually. Rather, recidivism!
      • US – 5% of world population and 25% of world’s prisoners. China – less glorious human rights record – far fewer incarcerated!
  • Prison ministry?
    • In NT times, prisoners would normally have been believers (Hebrews 13).
    • And yet prisons present a great evangelistic opportunity. Implication of Philippians 1:7,12-14; 4:22).

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