For those who hold to a warped theology that says God was only a God of judgment and wrath in the Old Testament but changed in the New Testament, I think the account of the death of Ananias and Sapphira as told in the Book of Acts is a sobering story to take a good look at.
There are some interesting similarities between Nadav and Avihu and Ananias and Sapphira.
First, both were believers of the Most High and Holy God.
Nadav and Avihu were priests and Ananias and Sapphira were early disciples of Yeshua.
Second, both were directly killed by YHVH for what seemed to be nothing more than mere breaches of protocol.
At first glance, the no-questions-asked instant execution of these two groups seems hardly the behavior one would expect from a God who places such a high value on life, love, and mercy.
Let’s read this story which is in Acts 4:32-5:11.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
To get started, the first point I want to emphasize is that Ananias and Sapphira were true believers.
They were Jews who had come to accept Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel.
There isn’t anything in the Scriptures that would imply they were fake believers who were just pretending to have faith in Yeshua.
They were true believers who had the Holy Spirit residing within them and were executed by the Lord Himself.
They weren’t put to death by any earthly authority.
Let’s take a good look at what really happened here.
The situation was that the community of believers was selling property they owned and handing over money to those believers who were more in need.
Following the crowd’s lead, Ananias and Sapphira also decided to sell a piece of property they owned and donate the proceeds to the church leadership.
And it’s obvious they were sincere about it, because they did sell their property and they did give the lion’s share of the proceeds to the early Messianic church.
However, we’re told that they also told a little white lie about keeping a small portion of the money for themselves, and this is what led to their death.
Now, objectively speaking, even if Ananias and Sapphira told a little white lie, what they did was pretty darn generous, wouldn’t you think?
I mean would you sell your house and give 90% of the proceeds to your regular house of worship?
The common reason given by gentile pastors who don’t have a strong grounding in foundational Torah principles is that God killed them for lying.
They argue that at this early stage in the new church’s history, the Lord couldn’t tolerate his close followers lying and thus that is why He had to kill Ananias and Sapphira.
Peter, who was a close disciple of Yeshua, lied and denied Yeshua three times, yet he wasn’t killed.
In fact, outside of the sin of providing false testimony in a court of law that could lead to the unlawful execution of an innocent person, the truth is you will not find a commandment in the Torah requiring the death of somebody for lying, not even for lying to the Lord.
So why in the Book of Acts do we have God acting like a God of wrath and killing Ananias and Sapphira?
And I remind you that this is a post-crucifixion event that occurred AFTER Yeshua had already paid the price for the sins of the world.
Okay, this is where we get to flex our Torah muscles and put what we’ve learned so far to good use.
Recall that when an Israelite brought his sacrificial animal to the Tabernacle, he had to perform SEMIKHAH (laying on of hands).
Now here is the super key question, the answer of which will lead us to the real reason the Lord had to kill Ananias and Sapphira.
When the worshipper laid his hands on the sacrificial animal, do you recall what that action represented?
IT REPRESENTED TRANSFER OF THAT ANIMAL’S OWNERSHIP FROM THE WORSHIPPER TO ADONAI.
Let me put it in other words.
Once the ownership of the sacrificial animal was transferred over to the Lord, that animal became HOLY PROPERTY!
Some rabbis would say that animal became holy property as soon as the worshipper entered the temple grounds with his sacrificial animal.
Now what have we learned about Holy Property?
We have learned that to trespass against the Lord’s Holy Property is a very, very, very SERIOUS SIN.
The general principle we get from many examples in Scripture is that when the Lord’s Holy Property is violated, it results in the death of the trespasser.
The reason is because the Lord views Holy Property as itself being holy.
Here’s the thing.
Once Ananias and Sapphira purposed in their hearts to sell their property and give all the money to God, somewhere in that decision-making process, the proceeds from the property they sold became Holy Property.
The same principle applied to the Israelites during the Tabernacle days.
A worshipper did NOT have bring a certain animal to the Tabernacle to be sacrificed.
But once he made his decision, at that instant, the situation changed, and that animal became holy property.
The same thing goes for Ananias and Sapphira.
They were under no obligation to sell their property to help out the poor believers.
It was their free choice.
But once they made that choice, boy did that change the whole dynamic of the situation.
Once they sold the property and had the cash in hand, at some point that money became Holy Property.
Even Peter said the same thing to Ananias.
“Why has the Adversary so filled your heart that you lie to the Ruach HaKodesh and keep back some of the money you received for the land? Before you sold it, the property was yours; and after you sold it, the money was yours to use as you pleased. So what made you decide to do such a thing? You have lied not to human beings but to God!”
See, once the money became Holy Property, ALL OF THE MONEY BELONGED TO GOD.
You can’t use the argument that Ananias and Sapphira just held back some of the money from God, because, again, all of it belonged to God.
Once the money became God’s property, Ananias and Sapphira no longer had any right to it.
So their crime was NOT that they lied as is commonly taught, but that they robbed God.
They tried to steal a portion of God’s Holy Property.
That was a big no-no and they paid for it with their lives.
You have to understand that in a sense Ananias and Sapphira held a similar status before ADONAI that Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu did.
Granted they were not priests, but as disciples of Yeshua with the Holy Spirit residing within them, they were undoubtedly NEAR God.
In fact, I would argue that there is no human being more closer to God than a believer in Yeshua who is born again of the Spirit or has the Holy Spirit indwelling inside him or her.
The reason I share this story with you is let you know, as a Believer, you are especially NEAR to God and held to a higher standard before God than the common person.
In other words, as believers, we are in a position to violate God’s holiness like no others can.
And as we’ve just seen with the NT story of Ananias and Sapphira, the penalty for violating God’s holiness can be severe indeed.
Unfortunately, many believers in our day and age don’t seem to really comprehend what it means to be so NEAR to the Lord.
There are too many out there who believe they have “freedom in Christ” to live out a God-ordained lifestyle or live as the world does.
Righteousness as taught in many of these so-called New Testament churches is that we are not under obligation to obey God’s laws and commands as contained in the Torah, but instead, in some mystical fashion we will be shown on an individual basis what is right and wrong.
I’ve got to let you know, that no where in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelations will you find anything that supports that kind of thinking.
And I have a feeling that YHVH is going to level severe judgement on those congregations that have decided to place their faith in doctrines instead of the pure Word of God.
If you are attending a congregation that teaches it is not important to obey the Lord’s commands in the Torah, not as a means to salvation, but as a proper expression of obedience to the one who saved you, I leave you with these words from the prophet Jeremiah.
“Come out of her, my people!
Run for your lives!
Run from the fierce anger of Yehoveh!”
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Judgment begins with the household of God”
-1 Peter 4:17
“We who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.”
“Everyone to whom much is given,
of him will much be required.”
Then Yeshua said to them,
“Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s
and to God what is God’s.”