4:36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
5:1But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
Gentle Jesus meek and mild? Flashback to the "short tempered God of the Old Testament"? What about "I Am the Lord and I don't change..." or "His mercies endure forever..."?
What is happening here and why?
The reason we are uncomfortable with this story is precisely because it is an unusual one. It doesn't seem to fit. I mean when the crowds cried "Crucify Him!" no one dropped dead. Surely killing Jesus was a greater offense than lying about the price of sold possession. That being the case obviously this is not about the severity of the wrong committed. So if it isn't that what is it?
Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Joseph was a manipulator. Jacob was underhanded. Abraham was a liar and a coward. Peter denied even knowing Jesus at His greatest time of need. They all went on to live successful lives.
This couple lies about the price they got for selling something and they get the death penalty. Clearly we are missing something...
Follow this. It really is pretty simple. They claimed they were giving 100% but they were not. Appearances did not match the truth of the matter. They appeared to be fully devoted to the cause of Christ. They wanted to be seen as giving 100%. Appearances did not match the truth of the situation. They appeared to be alive. Life comes from God and exists only when we are connected to Him. God did not kill them. He exposed their true circumstances. He wiped away the appearances and left only the truth.
This couple made a deliberate choice to appear as if they were on God's side when really they weren't. God just exposed them. It may seem harsh and somehow we want to blame God but He didn't make their choices for them or force them to lie about it when confronted with the truth. Had God in mercy allowed them to live even after they disconnected themselves from Him the ultimate result would still have been the same. They would have died outside of His grace by their own choice. The reason He decided to fully expose their true condition was for the benefit of everyone else. Sin kills. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Man judges appearances but God knows the heart. God is not mocked.
No man can serve two masters. God will forgive any sin but when we make a definitive choice against Him, He will not force us to seek His mercy.
Some will call this story murder when truly it was double suicide.