Friday, January 22, 2010

Kill the Blasphemer

After addressing some rules and regulations associated with the priesthood for a couple chapters, roughly two-thirds into Leviticus, God gets back the laws for everyone.

Leviticus 23 lays out more ordinances for various holidays, including a promise by God that He will kill anyone who works on the Day of Atonement, which neither shows love nor foreshadows the day Jesus would supposedly provide atonement for the world.

Leviticus 24 continues on with laws about offering oil and bread to God on every Sabbath. Then an issue arises which needs to be addressed...

Kill the Blasphemer
It is tough being God. After all, you cannot please everybody all of the time. The hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes you orchestrate, or at least permit to happen, seem to make some people unhappy with you. The paths where you lead people may not be easy or comfortable, causing some people to question your wisdom and providence. Yet because you are omniscient, you know it is all going according to plan and will work out for the best.

So what do you do when someone curses your name because they do not agree with the way you are running things? Laugh it off, amused by the impotent, angry screams of your creations? Enlighten a prophet to teach them your ways? No. Not if you are the God of the Bible. This God, has zero tolerance.

In Leviticus 24:10-24 you find the story of a half-breed son, the product of an Egyptian father and an Israelite mother. One day this half-breed gets into a fight with a full-blooded Israelite, and he proceeds to blaspheme “the Name” of God. That does not go over too well.

As you may remember from the popular version of the Ten Commandments, God prohibits blasphemy, but He did not say what to do about it back when He provided the commandments. So, upon hearing that this half-breed blasphemed, some Israelites took him into custody and then sought out God's guidance from Moses. This is part of God's reply, from Leviticus 24:15-16:
"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." NIV
In Leviticus 24:17-22, God goes on to provide some general rules of justice with His reply. It boils down to repaying injustice with the same kind of punishment. Take a life for a life. In Leviticus 24:20 is the famous “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” line. The exception is if a man kills an animal owned by his neighbor, he must simply pay for the animal instead.

Of course, that turns God into a hypocrite. In the same breath, God is saying to kill someone who speaks badly of Him, and then says that you repay injustice with like punishment. Clearly, this bad-mouthed half-breed did not kill God, because God keeps popping up in the rest of the Bible, including the quoted verse immediately following the incident! So how can it be justice that God demands his death? Well, that is God's justice. God has different laws for Himself, just like he has different laws for the priests.

The chapter closes out with the half-breed being stoned to death by the Israelites in Leviticus 24:23. You can always count on the Bible for a happy ending.

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