In the 24th chapter of Leviticus in verses 10-16 we read of a man of mixed blood. He is the son of an Israelitish woman and his father was an Egyptian. He fought with an Israelite and the Israelitish woman’s son “blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed”. The word blaspheme here means literally “to pierce” or to revile. The word cursed means “to declare something worthless and without any significance. This was condemned by the Third Commandment of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments).
The man guilty of this crime is put in ward until the will of the Lord is determined. The death penalty is certain due to Exodus 21:17, however the manner of execution, as well as the fact of him being a stranger, needs to be resolved.
The Lord commands the man to be brought outside the camp. The witnesses are to place their hands on his head, indicating the guilt and consequences of his act rest solely upon him and their intolerance of his crime. The people were then to stone him to death. This punishment was to be enforced with either the stranger or the Israelite.
This account in Leviticus teaches us several valuable lessons:
It teaches the importance of reverence for the name of God. The prayer which Jesus taught his apostles began with the words, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9. Hallowed means “holy, sanctified, set apart from profane things”. God’s name is the greatest. His name is above all names. When we refer to God we are not referring to just anybody, we refer to Almighty God, the One who demands our respect. As the Psalmist said, “Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.” Psalm 148:13
It is a lesson of what happens to a person spiritually today who uses the Lord’s name in a vain, profane, or blasphemous way. Physical death was the penalty for this great sin under the Old Covenant and warns of spiritual death for this great sin under the New Covenant. To not speak the name of God with reverence is a strong indication of the attitude the person holds for God in their heart. The person that does not have reverence for God has no basis for morality and no humility to bow to His will.
We need to appreciate the enormity of this sin. Many in our world need to recognize this. We find in this book and throughout the Old Testament a repeated emphasis upon the character of God. He is very concerned about maintaining a good name among men. For one to lose respect for the name of God, and lose respect for the person of God, is to lose all in this life as well as the next, unless they repent. There is nothing more important than “hallowing” the name of God.
Let our attitude in referring to God be as though we exclaim “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:1
-Jerry D. Sturgill