Then the LORD said to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp.  All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him.  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.

Leviticus 24:13-16

There are two important things for us to learn from this part of God’s inspired Word in the OT.

Firstly, it confronts us with the absolute HOLINESS of God’s Name.  A Contemporary English version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism spells it out like this: “Q. 53. What is the third commandment? A. The third commandment is: ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.’ (Exodus 20.7).  Q. 54. What does the third commandment require?  A. The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word and works.  Q. 55. What does the third commandment forbid?  A. The third commandment forbids all profaning or abusing of anything by which God makes himself known.”

I wonder if Modern Man (even Modern Christian Man) has such respect for the holiness and reverence of God, his attributes, his works in Creation and the outworking of history – ‘his story’, – and his inspired Word, the ‘Holy’ Bible?

The LORD declared to Moses that any failure in any of these respects attracted the death penalty.   If we decide this is too harsh, then we have not only failed to appreciate the perfection of God’s holiness, but, by doing so, we have become guilty of the very offence itself!

Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, it shows us the depth of God’s love in sending his own Son to bear the death penalty for us, in our place.  Every one of us is born with a heart that, in its natural state, continually breaks the Third Commandment.  This is demonstrated by our failure to give God, his Word, his attributes and his works, their rightful place in our thinking and in our lives.  Even after we have been born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, and have come to acknowledge Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, do we not still fall far short of the full requirement of the Third Commandment? – I know I do.  So reading Leviticus 24:13-16 makes me realise more fully my debt of gratitude to my dear Saviour.

“How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that he should send his only Son to make a wretch his treasure.  How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns his face away, as wounds which mar the Chosen One bring many sons to glory.  Behold the Man upon a cross, MY SIN upon his shoulders; ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.  It was MY SIN that held him there until it was accomplished; his dying breath has brought me life – I know that it is finished.” (Stuart Townend).