Thursday after Cantate
Scripture: Leviticus 24:1-23 (NKJV)
1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually. 3 Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron shall be in charge of it from evening until morning before the LORD continually; it shall be a statute forever in your generations. 4 He shall be in charge of the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD continually.
5 “And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. 6 You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before the LORD. 7 And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the LORD. 8 Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. 9 And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the LORD made by fire, by a perpetual statute.”
10 Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel; and this Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought each other in the camp. 11 And the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed; and so they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.) 12 Then they put him in custody, that the mind of the LORD might be shown to them. 13 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Take outside the camp him who has cursed; then let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 Then you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.
17 ‘Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death. 18 Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal. 19 If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. 21 And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death. 22 You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the LORD your God.'”
23 Then Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they took outside the camp him who had cursed, and stoned him with stones. So the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.
We live in a world in which the Lord’s Name is misused and blasphemed easily and often. To modern ears today’s lesson may seem harsh. A man blasphemes the Lord’s Name and curses. He is brought before Moses and then sentenced to death by stoning. The reason the blasphemer must die is because the blasphemer has cut himself off from his only source of absolution. The Lord says in verse 15, “Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.” To curse God is to disavow Him and His gifts and judge oneself unworthy of everlasting life. One cannot blaspheme God and simultaneously expect mercy and clemency from God. Since the blasphemer has no mediator to bear his sin, and disbelieves the Word of the true God, he must bear his own sin.
The Name of the Lord is a gift for the Christian to treasure and hallow. God’s Name is hallowed “when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God also lead holy lives in accordance with it.” (Luther’s Small Catechism). We are given God’s Triune Name so that we may call upon Him in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. To blaspheme our Lord’s Name by cursing, false doctrine, and immoral living is to drive the Holy Spirit away from us so that we have no choice but to bear our own sin. May the Lord inspire thankfulness in our hearts for His Name and the proper use of His Name so that we may call upon Him, worship Him, and rejoice that He bears our sin.