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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: May 11, 2023

Leviticus 24

As we see in our reading from Leviticus today, the punishment for blasphemy is the same as the punishment for murder–death. This is a rather hard thing for us to wrap our heads around today. How could a loving God be so sensitive about misusing or cursing His name? How could a loving God command the Israelites themselves to pick up stones and hurl them at someone who just said words that didn’t seem to hurt anyone else? Sure, God is great and wonderful and He gives us some good gifts and He may hold the keys to salvation, but surely He doesn’t need to be so over the top about things, right?

But when we hear the story of this half-Egyptian man, we should see things as they are. Is it possible that this man, due to his half-Egyptian parentage, didn’t really understand how sacred God’s name was? Sure. Is it possible he was just foolishly trying to score an easy point in a fight with an Israelite? Sure. But it doesn’t matter because that man, like us, was nothing more than a sinful worm. And that worm of a man took the holiest thing man could ever receive, the priceless name of God, and cursed it. Treated it like trash. That man held the kingdom and the power and the glory on his tongue and spit it out of his mouth like it was rotten food. He sought to kill the God who gave him everything when he tried to slather the name of God in sin.

So when God commanded the Israelites to pick up stones in their hands, He wanted them to feel in those stones the weight of their own sins. And He wants us to see the same thing in these words. Until you can say that God is just for punishing the blasphemer with death, you have not begun to understand the depths of your sin.

And when you understand the depths of your sin, then and only then can you understand the depths of God’s love for you. Only then can you understand the beauty of Jesus Christ taking the condemnation out of your mouth with His dying words upon the cross. Only then can you understand the profound mercy of Jesus who was pierced for you, who was condemned for you, who drank the punishment you deserved. Only then can you truly rejoice to know what it means for Jesus to grab the worm you were and make you into a child of God.

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