“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die. And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death. And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭21‬:‭12‬-‭17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Law God had given is a law given within this universe where sinners are living. God gave this Law because He saw it was befitting in order for these sinners to be fruitful and increase in number and live the most stable and peaceful life. And according to the Law, God said, anyone who murders another person must be put to death.

It is very different from the present generation, where killing a person is taken so lightly. God may have a person dead through an accident or mistake for the purpose of removing that person. But even so, the person in whose hands the other person is killed has to be put to death. Even if it might have been by mistake. However, a place was prepared by God for such a person to flee to, in order to save his life – the city of refuge. He allowed such a person to flee there. Yet, if the man defends himself saying it was not intentional and a mistake and does not flee to the city of refuge, he must be captured and put to death in order for justice to be done. Hence, the person was responsible, even if it might have been by mistake.

Nevertheless, a chance to live is provided since it was not committed intentionally but by mistake. The only way for such a person to save himself is if he desires to live. So, he must flee to the city of refuge. But if a person had murdered intentionally and he flees to the city of refuge, he is to be pulled out of there and put to death. It is like people expecting that grace will save them later on, so they sin as much as they want. But God knows their hearts. Those people will surely be held accountable for their sins.

Even today, some Christians think that because they sin and repent, sin and repent, they can just sin deliberately and later repent about it. Don’t you think God would have already had that in mind? He will deal with everyone justly. Anyone who strikes his father or mother must surely be put to death. I see kids that hit their moms while walking in the streets. When they get upset, they hit their mom, and it is not only the big kids but also the little ones. 5, 6 year olds will hit their mom and dad when they do not get things their way. Since they are little, the parents let them be, but the fact that such young kids would even think of that is mind-blowing. And it is the parents’ fault. Not only do those parents suffer harm as a result, but they are neglecting our society to turn into such a wicked society.

Our God did not want Israel to become like this. Why? If they were left to do that, those that are hostile to their parents might be hostile toward God. Those who go against their parents may go against the king, the priest and even God. Hence, such people were not left to live. God wanted to make man in the future (us) become His children to serve God the Father. But if, as children, they are accustomed to slapping their parents, what would they do to God when they serve Him as their Father? That is why God commanded that anyone who strikes his father or mother must be put to death. This is God’s nature.

Also, whoever curses his father or mother must surely be put to death. Even if they did not strike them, if they curse their father or mother, they deserve to be punished and, therefore, must be put to death.

These things should not simply be regarded as the present social conditions. When mom takes something away from her kids, some kids hit their mom. And the mom just laugh over it. Some parents just laugh about it and think it is cute, but people need to come to their senses. God commanded that such children must be put to death. Though they cannot actually be killed, they should be given a brutal lesson so that they will not even imagine going against their parents. They must not even imagine cursing or striking their parents.

Personally, I do not actually smack my children. I do not smack them because there are not many situations where I need to give them a smack. But there are a few certain things for which I set a rule where it is necessary. For example, if they speak negligently about God and of God’s name. Such things are inadmissible. Ever since they were little, this was a fixed rule. But since I had given them a good scolding once, they will not do it again.

Also, they do not treat their dad disrespectfully, but at times they do talk back or speak rudely to their mom. In those situations, I let them know what it means to feel fear, terrified. To say that God is the fearsome God is such an insubstantial expression. He is a terrifying God. Terrifying. He is not just fearsome but terrifying, causing all to tremble. Not how people get horrified when they see a ghost because that is a mix of the feeling of disgust and fear.

Have you ever felt a trembling fear before some authority? I did not have such experience until I went to China and the public security officers found out about our place. Because we had Korean students staying at our place, when they got caught at the airport and gave away our address, we thought the public security officers would come to us. We had to get rid of every piece of evidence or documents that were in our house. We were trying to figure out what to do when we looked outside the window, and it seemed like the officer’s car was outside. We thought they were watching us.

So, in the evening, we turned off all the lights inside and burned every paper of our co-worker’s phone numbers as well as photographs. But as we were scared that the light from the burning would be seen from the outside, we covered the windows in the toilet and burned them in there. Then, one of the brothers who had been caught somehow managed to come to our place. He was shaking and trembling as he reported to us about the situation outside. His chin was shaking so hard as he spoke. He told us about a dream that he had the night before. He said in his dream, and he saw one of the teachers bleeding everywhere and getting caught. So, at that moment, the brother who was talking and us who were listening were trembling and shaking. We knew there were public officers outside while this brother was telling us about blood or something, and we needed to finish burning up the documents. We were gripped with fear and trembling as though my heart was in my mouth and my whole body was reduced to a pulp. Later, I read in Psalms that says something similar: “my bones are out of joint…it has melted within me”. The whole situation was horrifying. But what are those officers that we should be terrified of?

Yet, how terrified would we be before God? How fearsome is the Law God gave? Such a God says that anyone who even curses his father or mother should be put to death. This demonstrates how fearsome the parents’ authority is! Thus, we need to first know about that fear before we receive grace. We need to know about this fear enough before we realize what grace is. But many people today came to know grace before knowing fear, which is why they seem to feel as if they were deserving of grace.

This is why some kids even say the unthinkable to their parents when the parents ask, “How can you do this to us when we birthed you and raised you?” They say what should never come out of their mouths. “It was you two that got together because you liked each other and ended up having me, so why blame me for anything?” There was actually a kid that said that to his or her parents though I cannot remember where I heard it from.

They are arguing in such a way. They do not consider grace as grace. They take it for granted. Perhaps there are people who have that attitude before God too. It is absurd. We do not even want to think about it. But what do people say? “Why should I be used by God? Why did God make us as His tools? So it was just for His sake that He made us then!” And in this way, they argue against God. People already have this objection toward God.

Hence, their attitude is far from it. Without first realizing how fearsome God is and who we are before Him, people end up taking for granted the grace they are given to become His children. They take grace for granted and as a trivial thing. Such people take grace lightly and are, therefore, able to later forsake it easily.

For this reason, Jesus also said that we must first learn from Moses and the Prophets. First, learn how awesome God is. If anyone wants to raise his children as those who really appreciate what grace is and who are usable by God, it is very important that he teaches them that parents are to be feared. Yet, if one raises his children by grace in early childhood and then raises them by the Law later on, the children will start to stray. They will start to deviate and resist. Rather than that, they should be raised by the Law during early childhood and then taught by grace when they have grown up.

Thus, the gospel is actually the word of God given to the mature. It is because God considers a person to be at an acceptable level that He gives the gospel. And though he may be at an acceptable level, he still falls short a great deal which is why He gives the Holy Spirit to be sufficient. But if a person who is well below the mark is given grace, he will not know how to appreciate it and become impertinent.

However, a humble person will do even better to those that do good to them. On the other hand, people who are somewhat deficient will be rude to those that are nice to them but put on a good face to those that are strict. These people need to be sent back to the Law. If the more freedom one is given and shown grace, he is able to control himself by the Law, which is most excellent. And he would be given more freedom. It is for this reason that God bestows His grace and gives the Holy Spirit that we serve Him in this wonderful manner.

God is more than able to bring out of us the actions He desires by giving us fear. But He does not want to do it that way. God wants us to do things out of love for God. That is why a long history or time was required.

When we understand God’s heart, we will humble ourselves when we receive grace. When God gave the glory of heaven to His Son and thus bestowed grace, the Son’s response was: “I do not deserve this. Let me stay at your house like a servant Father.” This was the mind of the Son. But the Father still treated Him well as a Son. The more He is treated that way, the more humbly the Son lowers Himself to serve His Father. What a beautiful relationship! They are not trying to exalt themselves.

Hence, the more grace we receive, the more we should humble ourselves and say, “I am a servant. I am God’s servant.” But people think, “But I received grace. I am His child. The unbelievers live in luxury and spend all their money, so the children of God have more right to live that way. We have every right to drive nice cars and wear fine clothes.” They had developed the Prosperity Theology, and for some time, it was quite influential.

What they claim is true to a certain extent. But it is not pleasing to God. That is why the Apostle Paul said all things are lawful for him, yet he will not have all things. And this is so that all of his labours will not be in vain and for him to receive a reward in heaven. Hence, when He exalts us, we need to humble ourselves all the more. Yet, there are some who are rebellious and try to exalt themselves.

The reason for this is that these people have not received grace. Because they never had the experience of being exalted, they try to raise themselves up. However, anyone who understands how much God raises us up will already have the foundation in place. Thus, no matter what others say, they are certain that God will raise them up. Therefore, they are not deterred even if others try to bring them down. But a person who has never been lifted up tends to have an inferiority complex and therefore tries to exalt themselves whenever others lower them.

For example, if a really good-looking person is told, “Man, you’re ugly!” He would just brush it off, saying, “Yeah, I’m ugly.” Do you know why? It is because he knows he is handsome. Don’t get me wrong. But people that think they are ugly will get hurt and offended if someone says to them they are ugly. That emotion just strikes. But if one has a solid foundation of how great is the grace he received, he would constantly lower himself before God. “I am a servant. I am God’s servant.” Let us pray that before our awesome God, we would be able to understand just how great is the grace we received from God and truly humble ourselves before Him so that we determine ourselves to serve Him as servants.

Father God, thank You for bestowing Your grace on us, saving us who were the sinners doomed to death. Father God, since we have received such great grace, help us to be steadfast in grace so that we strictly humble ourselves before God but still be without fear. Help us also not to fall into the temptation of seeking to exalt ourselves before others. Even if we are despised, rejected and looked down upon, help us not to be tempted to defend or exalt ourselves. May our soul spirits always be full of great joy and happiness that comes from the fact that God lifts us up. Help us to humble ourselves completely as those who have received grace and work as servants. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on October 26, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team