Lev. 24, holiness and blaspheming

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Helen, Dec 15, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    The two things spoken of in this chapter are in direct contrast to each other. In verses 1-9, we find the directions for the night lamps of the Tabernacle as well as for the twelves loaves which were to always be kept before the Lord along with pure incense on the table of gold. This was to be food most holy to the Lord and to be eaten only by Aaron and his sons "because it is a most holy part of their regular share of the offerings made to the Lord by fire."

    Immediately after these directions is told the story of man who blasphemed the Lord.

    What does 'blaspheme' the Lord mean? The word used for this term is used only here in the Bible, and nowhere else. It is, however, considered synonymous with cursing, which is a term we are familiar with in this Bible study. Cursing does not mean simply using a swear word in connection with someone. It means causing others to think badly of the person, and is therefore akin to slander and holding someone up for some kind of public disgrace.

    Whatever the man in Leviticus 24 said, it would have been along these lines, not simply an expression of personal exasperation or anger where God was concerned. It would have implied a concerted, conscious effort to ridicule or insult God in the minds of others. And for this, God prescribed the death penalty.

    Thus we read in verses 15-16,
    Say to the Israelites: 'If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.'

    Thus, we can see that the desecration of the holiness of God, as partially expressed in the first part of the book, is a crime punishable by death where God is concerned.

    It might be noted that in our day, the desecration of His name and character is so common that if all these people were killed, massive population control would have been effected! Most people no longer take the holiness of God seriously.

    If we remember Genesis 9, and what God said to Noah, then we remember that the punishment of death is required for those who murder a human being, because man is created in the image of God. So it is also interesting that this command is repeated immediately following the directions regarding blasphemy of the Lord. Verse 17 deals with this.

    Verses 18-22 deal with the concept of justice, or fairness, where criminal activity is concerned: the punishment must fit the crime and cannot exceed it. Many people read the part about "fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth" and exclaim how barbaric that seems. First of all, we have no record of an eye being put out as a legal punishment, or man's arm broken or tooth pulled for this reason. The point of this, instead, was to establish a principle of limitation of punishment. This was unique in a time when stealing could end up in execution, as could lesser crimes.

    If we understand the intent of this, then we will also be able to understand much of what Jesus later said in the New Testament was not denying any of this, but simply taking this principle a step farther and applying it spiritually as well as combining it with the principle of forgiveness.

    If we are to take a lesson out of this chapter as a whole, it would be "God is absolutely holy, and you transgress against that holiness at the risk of your life."
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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