The Leaven of Society
“…bring forth him that…cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones.” (Lev. 24:23)
If one conducted a poll and asked what one blight upon culture has contributed most to the downfall of society, answers would vary. One would claim the worst problem to be abortion on demand while another would cite evolution being taught as science. This one would say it is sodomy and sexual perversion, but that one would announce it is the normalizing of divorce and remarriage. Perhaps others would assert that the greatest problem is the disgracing of Sunday, the availability of cyber-sin, or the dumbing-down of the populace.
Without doubt, each of the heinous and horrible sins mentioned in the previous paragraph is despicable, disgraceful, and destructive of society. However, this article presents blasphemy as a much-less-talked-about, much-more-carelessly-ignored, and much-more-commonly practiced sin than any of the others of the previous paragraph.
Stoning was prescribed in Scripture for idolatry, false prophecy, occultism, Sabbath-breaking, rebellion against parental authority, lying about one’s virginity, and immorality (fornication and adultery).
Stonings mentioned in Scripture include the blasphemer in Leviticus 24, the Sabbath-breaker in Numbers 15, Achan in Joshua 7, Adoram (Rehoboam’s tax-collector) in I Kings 12 and II Chronicles 10, Naboth the righteous Jezreelite in I Kings 21, Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the high priest in II Chronicles 24, the prophets in general in Matthew 23, Stephen in Acts 7, Paul in Acts 14, and unnamed heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. Interestingly, while much detailed instruction is given to govern stonings, very little detail of actual stonings can be found. Even more interesting is the fact that a majority of stonings mentioned in Scripture were wicked people stoning the righteous, not righteous people stoning the wicked!
Let it be noted that this message is neither a diminishment of the severity of any sin mentioned in the opening paragraph nor a declaration that the stonings mentioned in Scripture are the only stonings that ever occurred. Obviously, many events of history are not preserved in Scripture record.
The purpose of this article is to deal with a perverted language-style that has become so common as to be thought normal and so accepted as to be thought right. Blasphemy, once limited to the dregs of social structure, now befouls rich and poor, educated and ignorant, male and female, old and young, all. Blasphemy, once acceptable only in hushed tones, is now expected not censured, respected not disdained, and encouraged not corrected. Blasphemy, once limited to vile outbursts of the worst of men, has become the language of education, entertainment, employment, and enjoyment.
Blasphemy dishonors the name of the Lord
Leviticus 24:11, 16 both mention the name of the Lord. This is the name at which every knee will one day bow, that name to which every tongue will one day give confession. This is the name of worship and ownership. This is the name of righteousness and godliness and holiness. This is the name of authority and decency and integrity and dignity. This is the name of the God of salvation that takes forty pages of concordance to list (contrasted with only three dozen total references to the name Saviour).
Lord is God’s name of authority, his name that defines his rights and our responsibilities. Sadly, the blasphemer is generally convinced of his own rights and God’s responsibilities. Blasphemy indicates a backward, froward heart that calls good evil and evil good. Blasphemy demonstrates a perverted, subverted heart that slaps sin on the hand and slaps Jesus Christ across the face. Blasphemy collaborates with every visible sin and corroborates every vocal sin. Blasphemy elevates the devil, celebrates the flesh, imitates the world, and denigrates the Lord. Blasphemy expresses one’s disgust for the power of Jesus Christ, suppresses one’s delight in the person of Jesus Christ, and represses one’s duty for the praise of Jesus Christ. To blaspheme his name in common carelessness as is manifest in culture is an egregious contempt, a heinous crime, and a grievous conspiracy.
To blaspheme his name in flagrant, flippant tone is ignorant and insolent and arrogant at the same time. To blaspheme his name in caprice and recklessness is to ignore the most fundamental statement made in all of Scripture regarding his name: “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.”
Blasphemy dirties the testimony of a family
Leviticus 24:11 mentions the family line of the blasphemer, a detail having no significance except this. When a husband blasphemes, he dirties his wife. When a wife blasphemes, she dirties her husband. When a parent blasphemes, he dirties his children. When a child blasphemes, he dirties his parents. When a sibling blasphemes, he dirties his brothers and sisters. Blasphemy is dirty and the dirt spreads. The good name that is rather to be chosen than silver or gold is smirched. The family name that would have stood out in distinction now slinks in disgrace. The business name that could have been held in esteem is now held in effrontery. The local name that could have spread far and wide with a testimony of righteousness now spreads far and wide with a testimony of rottenness.
Blasphemy defiles the hearer
Leviticus 24:14 speaks of “all that heard him.” The effect of blasphemy is that every person who heard the filth was befilthed. Everyone who heard the crudeness was contaminated. Everyone who heard the insensitivity was involved. All of them were brought together to lay their hands upon the head of the blasphemer, an action that identified them with the sin. When an offered laid his hands upon the head of the ram or bullock or lamb, he was identifying with the sacrifice and admitting his sin. By laying hands upon the head of the blasphemer, these hearers were not confessing the blasphemer’s sin but their own involvement in his defilement.
No person is so holy that blasphemy does not defile him. No person is so close to God that blasphemy does not ill affect and ill direct his thinking. No person is so victorious and triumphant that he can hear the voice of blasphemy and not be tempted, troubled, and tossed. Blasphemy rattles the cage and shakes the foundations of even the one whose communion is sweetest. Hearing such ignominious expression defiles!
Blasphemy demands punishment
The third commandment says that God will not hold guiltless the man who takes his name in vain. Guiltless means “without consequence.” While God may pronounce particular consequences for certain sins, he here merely says a consequence will come. The man will not be guiltless. He will not live his life without the consequence that God decides to send. What consequence is it? Is it incurable illness? failed marriage? bankruptcy? brokenhearted disillusionment? panic and fear? incalculable suffering? repeated failure? spiritual bondage? confusion? bitterness? unanswered prayer? frustrated effort? misery? inconsolable grief? What is the con-sequence? God does not say, but no one with an eye upon history can deny that society is full to the brim and running over with “mental disease” and physical ailment, despite the best medical advances known to mankind. Why? One must at least admit the possibility that God is visiting a blasphemous generation with the consequences of its blasphemy.
Blasphemy destroys the speaker
In our text, the blasphemer died. That is destruction. He died. He was not merely injured with possibility of recovery. He was not crippled but able to survive with some quality of life. No. He died. While the plethora of blasphemers in society proves that they are not all destroyed immediately like this one, destruction still comes in myriad ways other than sudden physical death. Blasphemy destroys the speaker’s innocence and integrity, his respectability and reputation, his potential and prowess, his outlook and opportunity, his demeanor, his determinations, and if he is unsaved, his destination.
The audience of this article is primarily believers. In the experience of this writer, many saints are in the grip of blasphemy when they slam their proverbial thumbs in the proverbial car door. Beyond believers, the lost population of our world is riddled with blasphemers and blasphemy. May God help us who are the children of light to speak as children of light, and may God help us to use our influence to reduce blasphemy and its damage in our culture.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the bi-monthly sermon paper the Trumpet of Truth. Used by permission.