Still a Death Penalty for Sin in the “Dispensation of Grace” Era?

Acts 5:1–11, The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. Why did YHVH kill them? It is because they violated the Torah laws regarding the handling of devoted things. (See notes at Lev 27:28–29.)


It’s interesting to note that YHVH struck Ananias and Sapphira dead after the cross in, what many Christians call, the dispensation of grace era when, in their minds, sin doesn’t carry the same severe penalty us under “old covenant,” law of  Moses era.

What we learn from this is that YHVH still views sin as sin, and the wages of sin is still death. This has never changed before or after the cross of Yeshua. Just because one isn’t struck dead immediately upon having sinned doesn’t mean one hasn’t incurred the death penalty. That death penalty is only waived when one repents of their sin and asks for YHVH’s forgiveness through faith in Yeshua whose death paid the death penalty price for our sins.

Now let’s see what the Torah has to say about the sin Ananias and Sapphira committed.

Leviticus 27:28–29, devote … devoted thing. Heb. charam and cherem meaning “a devoted or dedicated thing, ban, devotion.” According to The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (TWOT), the basic meaning of herem is the exclusion of an object from the use or abuse of man and its irrevocable surrender to Elohim. Cherem can refer to the dedication of something for YHVH’s exclusive use, and if one uses that which was devoted to YHVH for personal use, then the object is profaned and the person brings upon himself a curse or even the death penalty (Lev 27:28–29) because such activity displeases YHVH. The violation of this principle is what brought about the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Therefore, cherem can refer to “a ban for utter destruction, the compulsory dedication of something which impedes or resists God’s work, which is considered to be accursed before God.” This word is also used in reference to all the cities that Joshua’s troops destroyed, thus indicating the Israelites’ rationale for their destruction, since otherwise the inhabitants of these heathen cities would have lured YHVH’s people away from him. In this case, it could be said that the heathen Canaanites were using YHVH charem (devoted) land in a displeasing manner to Elohim, thus he marked or devoted them for destruction. All objects or people who YHVH designates as charem (in the pejorative sense), he considers to be offensive or injurious to his work.

Related to this are objects to be set apart because they were pleasing and useful to him, which are referred to as qadosh.

It is related to the Arabic word harem meaning “to prohibit, especially to ordinary use,” and in popular usage refers the special quarters for Muslim wives (TWOT).

The name hermon as in Mount Hermon shares the same three letter root (HRM) with cherem and means “sacred.”


2 thoughts on “Still a Death Penalty for Sin in the “Dispensation of Grace” Era?

  1. This would fit in with Yeshua’s teaching condemning those who failed to provide for their families’ needs, by dishonestly claiming that their goods had been dedicated to the temple, and so were cherem.

    In regard to last week’s parsha, perhaps Nadav and Avihu also were condemned instantly under this same mitzvah, in that they had taken the incense prohibited for ordinary use and employed it for personal benefit. Perhaps they sought some sort of personal supernatural power via the strange fire, or were employing it in a magical incantation?

    This is beyond simple theft, in which the perpetrator would pay fourfold. It is theft from the stronger covenant partner, from the Holy One of heaven himself. It is the same with those who seek to steal the bridal gift of the land Israel or give it away – I would get out of the way of divine wrath.

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