It’s one thing for someone to reject Jesus, but another thing altogether when that person causes another to sin. Due to the choices one makes, in a sense, it’s easy to see how progressive sin brings him (or her) to a very bad place. During the Exodus, Yahweh dealt with this downward slide of iniquity quite forcefully because of the seriousness of the transgression.
God made it clear that unintentional sin happened. Because people are human, mistakes result. When a person realizes what he’s done, he can make atonement for that error. We see this in Numbers 15:27-28:
“If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.”
God is extremely lenient in this kind of inadvertent situation. The game changes when sin is committed intentionally. Consider Numbers 15:30-31:
“But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”
These verses describe the committing of deliberate sin done through pride and arrogance. It makes for a completely different situation and response from God. He considers this diving-into-sin attitude as one that reviles Him; it’s a despising of who He is, and a breaking of His commandments. The Hebrew word karath means to be cut off or cut down. Strong’s Concordance #3772 has a lengthy entry regarding this word, but ultimately it means to be destroyed or consumed; in a sense, to be chewed up. It’s not a good thing. It appears this ultimately means to be killed, although why Moses didn’t use the specific Hebrew word for killed isn’t clear. The one thing it certainly implies, at the least, is a separating of the guilty party from his people, probably in a permanent way.
Moving forward in time to the account of King Herod and his dealing with John the Baptist, we see a form of this sinful action – and more. Herod feared John and was fascinated by him, but he had sinned by marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias, against John’s speaking against him doing so. For John’s condemnation, Herodias hated the prophet and schemed to kill him. When Herod gave a birthday bash for himself, Herodias struck.
No doubt from the child’s birth, Herodias had tainted and twisted the mind of her daughter. Herodias had taught the girl pagan sexual practices, along with how to scheme and maneuver the minds and sensibilities of men so as to get her way. At the party, Herodias sent in her daughter to the revelers, and Mark 6:22 relates:
For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”
The girl asks her mother what she should request. Without a second thought, Herodias demands the head of John. The young vixen relays the request and because Herod had made a foolish vow, in order to save face, he complies. The wayward child then brings John’s head to her mother on a platter.
Look at this from the perspective of the passage in Numbers above. Herodias literally plunged into sin. Why? Because her pride had been wounded from John’s rebuke and arrogance rose in her. She would show him!
That’s bad enough, but she goes a step further. She has molded her daughter from youth to see men as objects to be manipulated and used. The mother has destroyed any moral sensibilities the girl had, and so she willingly does what Herodias wants.
The child had been an innocent. Herodias caused her own guilt to fall upon her daughter. Later, not in response necessarily to this incident, Jesus declared in Matthew 18:6:
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Jesus’ indictment for stirring up sin in a child is dire. Here He’s pronouncing a guilty sentence of great import. The sea is always a place of chaos in the Bible, where anti-God forces dwell. To metaphorically have a millstone fastened around one’s neck and be cast into the sea would imply severe punishment – one that would cause the person to sink to the lowest depths – perhaps to a place similar to Tartaus, the lowest region of hell.
What do we learn from all this?
Deliberate sin has severe consequences. God’s grace is one thing, and it covers a multitude of sins. However, God does not view intentional sin with favor. It goes against His Word, breaking His Law. Think of those who adhere to a hyper-grace theology. According to God’s Word, it seems that’s a dangerous road to walk.
Worse yet are those who corrupt the minds and hearts of children. The wrath of God surely is upon them, and He will judge them most harshly. We’ve seen a dramatic rise in child sex trafficking as we near the Tribulation period. It’s part and parcel of the darkness of the human heart that God will reckon with in the final days. He states as much in Revelation 21:8 in His condemnation of lawless unbelievers He will bring to account:
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
God is love, but His wrath burns brightly against those who deliberately trespass against His commandments. We can rejoice He has showered His mercy and grace upon those of us who believe. For those who don’t – for those who reject His miraculous, free gift of salvation – there is only a future of fearsome judgment.