Leviticus 24:16 (HCSB)
16 Whoever blasphemes the name of Yahweh is to be put to death; the whole community must stone him. If he blasphemes the Name, he is to be put to death, whether the foreign resident or the native.
This pericope addresses the blaspheming of God’s name. There are interesting things to take away here, for sure.
First, we are to honor God! This should be common sense, that we honor the One who created us and everything around us, and is the only reason we exist. Yet how often we do not live that out. And to blaspheme God’s name is the utmost of disrespect towards God.
We might think the punishment here is extreme, especially in a culture of free expression, often to such an extreme it could be considered detrimental. But we must remember that the reality is that God is King, not man. Man’s rules do not trump God’s, man’s thoughts fall far short of God’s, and man is not the one whom we should worship and revere, God is. Just as we might think many of the punishments associated with previously outlined transgressions are extreme, yet when taken in context of the culture of the time, and the fact that God was the direct king of the Israelites, we should apply the same framework here.
It is interesting that the second half of the pericope deals with equal punishment for a crime, or sin. Surely this is to ensure man does not decide on his own, skewed, version of retribution, possibly exceeding the severity of the original crime.
But, is it also possible that, these verses exist here in order to reinforce the severity of the blasphemy outlined previous? When we look at the crimes outlined here, they are murder, killing of an animal, and permanent maiming. These are all serious in their nature, with murder being the most heinous crime of all. Might it be that these verses not only provide guidance on the crimes listed, but also add to the supremely severe nature of the preceding crime of blasphemy?
Lord, thank You for being our God. Even though we do not deserve Your mercy, You give it. I pray that we would not blaspheme Your name, and always honor and worship You. Amen.