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The Death of a Blasphemer
ŇAnd the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death. And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God. And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.Ó (Leviticus 24:10-23)
You are either a worshipper of the Lord Jesus Christ, or you are a blasphemer. There is no in between ground. I am either a worshipper of Christ, or I am a blasphemer. There is no in between ground. Blasphemy is the cursing of God. And the cursing of God brings death, eternal death, under the wrath of God.
Only three historical events are mentioned in the Book of Leviticus. But those three historical events are very instructive. Each of these events is very significant and directly connected with GodŐs instructions concerning his worship
1. The first historical event recorded in this book is the consecration of Aaron and his sons as the priests of Israel (Leviticus 8-9).
The Aaronic priesthood represented the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Specifically, Aaron, as the high priest of Israel, foreshadowed the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest before God. He was divinely chosen, divinely equipped, divinely anointed, and divinely approved. Only Aaron could make atonement in the holy of holies, because he represented Christ who alone could and would put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 7:23-28).
AaronŐs sons represented the church and kingdom of God, as that Ňholy priesthoodÓ of believers who serve God in the holy place day and night. Everything about these priests typifies and represents believing sinners in this world. These men were specifically chosen by God. They were GodŐs priests because they were AaronŐs sons. They wore the garments of the priesthood, representing the garments of salvation that are ours in Christ. They were accepted as priests because of a slain sacrifice, just as we are accepted because of ChristŐs sacrifice. They were anointed with holy anointing oil and washed with pure water, portraying God the Holy Ghost and our new birth by him. They were men who deliberately and voluntarily consecrated themselves to God. These priests lived continually upon the sacrifice of GodŐs altar, serving God and his people continually (1 Peter 2:5-9).
2. The second historic event recorded in Leviticus is the death of Nadab and Abihu by the hand of God, for offering Ňstrange fire before the LordÓ (Leviticus 10).
Let all who would worship God understand the powerful lesson set before us in chapter 10. If we would worship God and find acceptance with him, we must come to him with that which he has provided, Christ alone, and no mixture of anything with Christ (Leviticus 10:1-3; Galatians 5:1-4).
3. The third historic thing recorded in the Book of Leviticus is the stoning of the ShelomithŐs son for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:10-23).
Those who blaspheme the name of God, curse him and deny him as God alone, shall be destroyed by him. Though this unnamed wretch had a Hebrew mother, his father was an Egyptian; and he preferred both the gods and the people of Egypt to the God of Glory and his people.
Moses has been, by divine inspiration, giving us instructions about the worship of God. He spoke of the golden candlestick, which spoke of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the world, the only light that truly reveals us as we are and the only light by which we see God and the way to God.
Then he spoke about the golden table of showbread, which speaks of Christ, the Bread of life. Only as we eat that Bread which came down from heaven, only as we believe on and live by ChristŐs blood and righteousness, do we have everlasting life.
On that table, there were twelve loaves of bread. In Christ there is bread for all GodŐs Israel. There is in him an infinite fulness and sufficiency of bread. In our FatherŐs house there is bread enough and to spare. Here is bread for all who are hungry. The bread was ordered and maintained by GodŐs priests. And it is Christ, our great High Priest, who provides all we need and constantly feeds our souls.
On those loaves of bread, the Lord required that the priests place pure frankincense. The bread speaks of Christ; but it also speaks of us, his people (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). We are truly one in him and one with him. The frankincense speaks of our acceptance with God by the merit and efficacy of ChristŐs mediation. Our God accepts us as he accepts our Substitute, and because he accepts our Substitute.
The oil in the lamps and the bread on the table were to be taken from the children of Israel. Among other things, this symbolized our consecration to God. Bread, being the very staff of life, it portrayed the fact that faith in Christ involves us giving up our lives to our Redeemer as our Lord and King (Luke 14:25-33).
All that was done in the tabernacle, all access to God, was by his appointed priests. The whole of the tabernacle service was a constant display of manŐs separation from God by reason of our sin and GodŐs holiness. It displayed GodŐs absolute right of sovereignty, dominion, and authority as God. God alone has the right to prescribe law. The tabernacle displayed salvation by GodŐs free and sovereign grace through the merits of Christ, the Substitute God has accepted. The light, the bread, and the frankincense were in the priestŐs hands alone. And our constant need of all grace is supplied by our blessed Substitute, the Lord Jesus.
In verses 10-23 Moses seems to tell us something that has nothing to do with the context. He has been giving us instructions about the worship of God, using pictures of Christ, redemption, grace, and salvation. When we get to chapter 25, he picks up with the same thing, giving us instructions about the worship of God, using pictures of Christ, redemption, grace, and salvation. But right in the middle of these wonderful pictures of redemption, grace, and salvation by Christ, we have this story of one manŐs blasphemy and his punishment (Leviticus 24:10-23).
Here the Spirit of God tells us about a nameless mongrel Israelite, part Jew and part Egyptian, who openly blasphemed the Lord God in the camp of Israel and was put to death because of it. Why this interruption? Why is this recorded here by inspiration of God the Holy Spirit? Surely, the death of this blasphemer by order of God must have something to do with Christ, the gospel of God, the worship of God, redemption, grace, and salvation by Christ Jesus.
The man described in this story is not named. We do not know who he was. His fatherŐs name is not revealed either, only his motherŐs. ŇHis motherŐs name was ShelomithÉof the tribe of Dan.Ó He is an unnamed blasphemer, an Egyptian who claimed a place among the children of Israel.
Some have suggested (and it was commonly taught among the ancient Jewish teachers) that this manŐs father was the Egyptian Moses killed (Exodus 2:12). But the Scriptures do not tell us who he was, or who his father was, just his mother. When the sons of God marry the daughters of men, nothing good can be expected as a result of their union. Here is an Israelite, one of GodŐs covenant children, who married an Egyptian idolater. What could be expected from such a union, except a blaspheming child?
Disobedience is always costly. The disobedience of parents is often manifested in the ruin of their children. Being depraved by nature, children are always more apt to follow the influences of evil than of good, to follow the way of an Egyptian father in blasphemy than the way of an Israelite mother in the faith, worship, and praise of God. Yet, this man was a man, not a child. He alone stood responsible for his actions.
The son of Shelomith, whose father was an Egyptian, got into a heated argument with one of GodŐs children. The fight may have been both violent and physical. We are not told. But it was, to say the least, a heated discussion.
Remember, the camp of Israel was a mixed multitude. The mixed multitude was a mixture of Egyptians with Israelites, Egyptians who came out of Egypt with Israel (Exodus 12:38). This mixed multitude was often the source of IsraelŐs troubles. They often caused strife and division in the camp of Israel.
So it is today. The church of God on this earth is always a mixed multitude of believers and unbelievers who profess to be believers, wheat and tares, sheep and goats, Egyptians who claim to be a part of Israel. Mongrels always cause trouble. Mongrels are always demanding. Mongrels never promote peace. They always have a bone to pick.
Once a quarrel begins, who knows what evil will be done before it ends? How great a fire a little matter kindles! When passion is hot, people forget both their reason and their religion. They are never satisfied to fight with another alone. They try to get others involved in the quarrel, so that they can justify themselves. We would be wise to avoid it altogether. The beginning of strife is like the letting forth of water. Once the dam breaks, you cannot get the water back (Proverbs 6:12-19; Ephesians 4:29-5:2; 2 Timothy 2:24-26).
What was this strife about that ended in a man being stoned to death by the whole camp of Israel, stoned by the direct command of God? The Spirit of God does not tell us. Whatever the strife was about, it ended in an eruption of blasphemy. I must confess that I have always read this passage as you probably have, thinking that this man, in the heat of anger said to the Israelite, ŇGod damn you,Ó as Barack ObamaŐs pastor once shouted from his pulpit, ŇGod damn America!Ó I have read dozens of commentaries and sermons giving that interpretation. Such language is horribly crude, offensive, and obnoxious. But that is not what happened here.
Remember, this event is related to us (and probably happened) just after or as Moses gave the instructions recorded in this chapter about the worship of God. When the mongrel heard and understood MosesŐ doctrine, GodŐs requirements and the things signified by these ordinances of divine worship, this Egyptian free-willer, this idolater (who claimed to have embraced the gospel) and the Israelite who loved free grace got into it. When their debate was over, the Egyptian stomped his feet, shook his fists, threw up his hands, and said, ŇJehovah be damned!Ó That was his blasphemy. And that is the blasphemy of all willful, obstinate unbelief. He did not say, Ra be damned, Horus be damned, or Allah be damned, but Jehovah be damned.
He was enraged that the God of Glory demands to be worshipped as God alone, enraged that Moses declared salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. That which enraged this Egyptian Israelite was the gospel doctrine set forth by Moses in every piece of furniture, every sacrifice, every ceremony, every priest, and every sabbath day connected with the tabernacle.
Everywhere he looked, in everything connected with tabernacle worship, the son of the Egyptian saw displays of GodŐs total sovereignty and his utter depravity. He saw demonstrations of GodŐs sovereign election of his people, special atonement accomplished for them alone, free justification, perfect, full, complete salvation in, by, and with Christ alone, righteousness, holiness, sanctification, acceptance with God by the doing and dying of the Son of God. The offense of the cross enraged him; and his rage moved him to blasphemy.
The name God gives to Babylon, the name God gives to all Arminian, free-will, works religion is ŇBlasphemyÓ (Revelation 17:1-3). That is what will-worship is. That is what unbelief is. — blasphemy!
This man Ňblasphemed the name of the LordÓ (v. 11). — What was this mongrelŐs blasphemy? Remember, GodŐs name is what he is. It is his character, the revelation of his being. The name of the Lord is Christ. The word ŇblasphemedÓ means Ňpierced, bored through, punctured, violently perforated, struck through, cursed.Ó
ŇAnd Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.Ó (Exodus 3:13-14)
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the ŇI AM.Ó Though the priests in Israel had a favored place in the temple of God (vv. 1-9), they showed utter contempt for the Lord of the temple when he came among them, blaspheming him just as the son of Shelomith did (Luke 22:63-65). Christ is the revelation of God, the embodiment of God, the name of God. To despise him and his work is to blaspheme God (Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:1-4; Psalm 111:1-9).
I try to never miss an open display of divine providence. And this is a wonderful display of it. The fact that this thing took place just as Moses was giving the children of Israel GodŐs law regarding his worship is not insignificant. It shows GodŐs providence working with his revelation of himself.
The Lord God himself gave the sentence of the law for this blasphemy, the sentence of divine justice that must be executed upon all who refuse to trust his dear Son.
ŇAnd the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.Ó (Leviticus 24:13-16)
Moses put the man in prison that he might know the mind of God in the matter. He sought GodŐs will and the Lord revealed his will to his servant (Proverbs 3:5-6). Moses waited on the Lord to direct him. He did not act hastily, and would not be pushed into acting hastily.
The sentence given was not the sentence of Israel, or the sentence of Moses, but the sentence of God, whose name was blasphemed. ŇHe that blasphemeth the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death.Ó He who cursed God was cursed of God.
He must be stoned outside the camp, away from the place of blessing, in the place of cursedness and uncleanness. Every Israelite who heard his blasphemy must lay his hands upon him, imputing his guilt to him. All the congregation must stone him, all must show their approval of and agreement with GodŐs justice. The execution was done before all Israel, a public execution. The law applied equally to all. Thus it shall be with all who blaspheme the name of the name of the Lord, who despise the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of the grace of God.
Before the sentence was executed, the Lord commanded Moses to set before Israel the code of civil law. This Mosaic code of civil law is the code of law recognized in all civil societies to this day, though few acknowledge it as GodŐs law, and few adhere to the code.
ŇAnd he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; (20) Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.Ó (Leviticus 24:17-22)
The law was made for and given to man, for the good of man, to protect society. Moses, in executing the sentence of the law, did not act as a private person seeking revenge, but as a civil magistrate executing justice for the protection of society. That is the purpose of law (Romans 13:1-5).
I cannot leave this chapter without telling you again that he whom we have blasphemed and cursed by our unbelief, esteeming him Ňstricken of God, smitten, and afflicted,Ó the Lord Jesus Christ, died at Calvary to save blaspheming sinners like you and me. He was made a curse that we might escape the curse of GodŐs holy law.
ŇAnd Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.Ó (Leviticus 24:23)
Behold the condemned blasphemer, executed that day in Israel! His execution was done before all Israel. His execution was approved of by all. His mother, all Israel, and even his own conscience approved of GodŐs just and righteous sentence. Where he was stoned, there he was left, outside the camp.
Behold the condemned sinner in the Day of Judgment. His execution shall be done before all Israel. His execution shall be approved of by all. His mother, all Israel, his own conscience, all men, all angels, and all devils will approve of and say, ŇAmen,Ó to GodŐs just and righteous sentence upon the wicked in that day. And their final place shall be hell, the bottomless pit, the place of outer darkness, outside the camp where they can do no harm.
Behold the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the sinnersŐ Substitute, who was made to be sin for us, that sinners might be made the righteousness of God in him. If we would escape the wrath of God, we must go forth unto him, without the camp, to the place of cursing, bearing his reproach, trusting him alone as God our Savior (Isaiah 53:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18; Galatians 3:13-14).
You are either a worshipper of the Lord Jesus Christ, or you are a blasphemer. There is no in between ground. I am either a worshipper of Christ, or I am a blasphemer. There is no in between ground. Which are you? To trust Christ is to worship him. Unbelief is blaspheming him, blaspheming the name of the Lord. God will forgive any sin and all sin. But if you die in your unbelief, blaspheming the name of the Lord, there shall be no forgiveness for you! Oh, may God the Holy Spirit graciously grant you faith in Christ!