In “the death penalty” Jefferson Vann discusses the content of his daily devotional, and how it relates to annihilationism.
the death penalty
Today’s devotional was entitled “vengeance on his adversaries” based on a passage in Deuteronomy:
Deuteronomy 32:40-43 (JDV)
Deuteronomy 32:40 I raise my hand to the sky and declare: As surely as I live permanently,
Deuteronomy 32:41 when I sharpen my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold of judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me.
Deuteronomy 32:42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood while my sword devours meat – the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders.”
Deuteronomy 32:43 Rejoice, you nations, concerning his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants. He will take vengeance on his adversaries; he will provide reconciliation for his land and his people.
vengeance on his adversaries
This part of Moses’ song records God’s oath in which he swears to take vengeance on his adversaries. Those who slaughter the innocent will feel the sharp tips of God’s arrows and the slicing edge of God’s sword.
Why sing of such a thing? One reason is that there will be ages of what will seem to be senseless violence against God’s people. We certainly know that was a true prediction. God calls on his people to trust him to provide reconciliation.
Reconciliation of every evil is going to happen. It is our choice what kind of reconciliation we can have. It will either be permanent destruction in hell, or permanent forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross.
Lord, we recognize ourselves as your adversaries due to our own sin. We plead the blood of Christ as our reconciliation.
The original devotional is here:
I have also been adding a short video each day to accompany the devotional.
You can see that video here:
In the video I talked about how the passage was an example of what C.S. Lewis called Christianity and water — an illusion to the diluting of the faith to not include unpleasant dark things like God’s retribution.
We all know that the Bible contains these promises of destruction, and in the video I make a point of the fact that the emphasis is always on destruction, not spiritual suffering for eternity.
As adherents to what people call annihilationism, we try to use biblical language and imagery to describe biblical predictions, and there are numerous places in the scripture where the final fate of the lost is described like it is here: a second death, and a violent painful, humiliating death.
In fact, there are only a couple of places in the New Testament which describe hell as aionios (eternal) and I understand that adjective as referring to the permanence of the death, not it being a perpetual process. It is the death penalty, not an eternal life penalty. It is permanent, not perpetual.
Passages like Deuteronomy 32:40-43 support that view. When God in his patience finally acts to bring justice to those who rebel against him and his people, that justice will result in death — which is, after all the wages of sin.
For more on annihilationism, see: