Death for dissing God
Keep the lights on1The LORD told Moses:
2Tell the people of Israel to bring you some of the purest olive oil—not from crushed olives, but from olives beaten by hand. Use this oil to light the lamp in the tent worship center. Don't ever let those lights go out.
3Aaron has the responsibility for keeping the light burning. The lamp goes in the main room of the tent worship center, the Sacred Room. Put it outside the curtained entrance into the Most Sacred Room, which holds the box that contains the Ten Commandments. The curtain separates those two rooms. Keep the lights burning. I’m making this a permanent law. 4Aaron should keep the golden lampstands in good working order and burning properly all the time.
Bread seasoned with frankincense5I want you to bake 12 loaves of bread from a gallon of fine flour. 6Put them on the golden table in the presence of the Lord. Arrange them into two rows—six per row.
7Sprinkle pure frankincense onto each of the rows as a reminder that this bread is an offering to the LORD. 8Every Sabbath day Aaron should set the bread out as a gift to the Lord. This bread is a reminder to the people of Israel that the agreement they made with the LORD is permanent. 9This bread is sacred to the LORD, and he is giving it to Aaron and his sons to eat in a sacred place.
Cussing with God’s name10Two men got into an argument. One was the son of an Israelite woman and her Egyptian husband. He had left his tent and gone into the Israelite camp. There, he got into it with the son of an Israelite woman.
11During the argument, the half Egyptian man used God's name to cuss at the Israelite man. People arrested him and took him to Moses. The arrested man's mother belonged to the tribe of Dan. Her name was Shelomith, daughter of Dibri. 12Israelites held the man in custody and waited for the LORD to tell them what to do. 13The Lord told Moses:
14Take the man who used my name as a cussword outside the camp. Have everyone who heard him swear put their hands on his head. Then, everyone should pick up stones and stone him to death.
15Tell this to the Israelites: It’s a sin to disgrace God's name by using it to cuss someone out. If you do that, you’ll be punished for it. 16Anyone who demeans and degrades the name of the LORD will be executed. The entire community must stone the person to death. It doesn't matter if the person is a native Israelite or an immigrant living among you. Anyone who demeans the name of the Lord will be executed.
17Anyone who kills another person will be executed. 18Anyone who kills another person’s animal will make restitution and provide a replacement animal. 19If you hurt someone in a way that disfigures that person, you’ll be disfigured in the same way. That will be your punishment. 20I’m talking about bone for bone, eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. Whatever you did to disfigure someone else will be done to you. It’s your punishment.
21If you kill someone’s animal, you need to repay the person by providing a replacement. Anyone who kills someone has to be executed. 22You have one standard, one set of laws, and they apply equally to everyone, local Israelites as well as immigrants living among you. I am the LORD your God. 23Moses talked to the Israelites. Then they took the man who swore outside the camp. They stoned him to death, just as the LORD told Moses they should do.
Olives were often pressed for their oil two or more times. The first pressing produced the purest and clearest oil. Later pressings would became discolored by sediment from pulp of the olives.
Often known as the Ark of the Covenant, the gold-covered chest that contains the most basic laws the Israelites were to obey, etched onto two stone tablets.
That’s a little more than the typical five-pound bag of flour. It’s roughly seven pounds (3 kg). And that’s one dry gallon (4.4 dry liters), or almost 20 US or metric cups.
Frankincense was one of the most exotic and expensive fragrances available, along with myrrh. Both come from the sap of small trees and shrubs growing in what are now Saudi Arabia, northern Africa, and India. People would grind up the dried sap and put it into perfumes. They also burned it as a woody fragrance, and a sweet-smelling incense. They burned the incense in religious services. They also burned incense in homes as air fresheners in the days before soap and deodorants. People also ate frankincense, and still do. It has a bitter, woody, and peppery taste. They use it to add flavor to food, and they take it to relieve physical problems such as gas or pain from wounds. Frankincense seems to kill some kinds of bacteria and fungi.
ROBERT V. HUBER
The menorah lamp inside the tent worship center had to stay on all the time. We get that information here in Leviticus 24. It comes right after Leviticus 23, which talked about the last harvest festival of the year. Olives were among those final crops harvested. Why do you think God wanted the lights on all the time inside the tent? And do you think that suggests that churches should keep the doors open all the time?
In addition to keeping the lamp burning, the priests must keep twelve loaves of bread on a gold table near the curtain that leads to the Most Sacred Room. The loaves seem to be a symbol of prayers the priests pray to God on behalf of the people. Do you think eating bread could actually connect someone to God in prayer?
One of the Ten Commandments holds: “You can’t trash the name of the LORD, your God. The LORD won’t give you a free pass to demean his name” (Exodus 20:7). While there was no question that this commandment applied to all Israelites, God also seemed to hold foreigners among the Israelites to this rule as well (verse 10). Do you think that seems reasonable or fair?
Moving on from the case of the bad-mouthed Egyptian, our text goes on to say that anyone who kills another human being must die, but anyone who kills someone else’s animal need only pay for a replacement animal. If you disfigure someone, however, you can expect to be disfigured in the same way: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Do you think this is a harsh code to live by? Or might it have been a gentler way for the time?
LIFE APPLICATION: Many offenses were punishable by death under Mosaic Law, though there seem to have been ways of averting the death sentence. Today we wonder if capital punishment is the answer to cutting down on crime, especially violent crime. Why do you think Christians are on both sides of this debate, and what are some of their arguments that you’ve heard? What do you think?
LIFE APPLICATION: The story of the half-Egyptian man who was put to death for dissing God brings up a serious moral question. How far should we go in inflicting our religious beliefs on others? It’s a matter of life and death among some groups of people who insist that everyone follow one religion. Should we ever kill someone for breaking a religious rule that seriously harmed no one?
LIFE APPLICATION. How do you think people today demean God’s name, or God himself for that matter?