Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Stoning

While I was in the middle of writing this post , I got an e-mail from an atheist here in our complex. He sent me a bible quiz put together by the Freedom from Religion Foundation .. and the bible quiz was set up in such a way as to provoke people to scoff at the bible and show God up to be an evil tyrant.
Interesting timing considering the subject of my post......

“Come..” said Shelomith to her son…”lets go for a walk around the camp.” The boy willingly went with her.
At some point in their stroll a quarrel was provoked in the camp …..and the boy and a man fought with each other.
Perhaps the quarrel centered upon their opinions about God.. because the boy suddenly blasphemed and cursed the name of God.
His voice rose above the normal sounds of the camp.… and the people who heard him … were shocked into stunned silence and could only stare in horror.. What would happen now? This kind of talk was unheard of !
The mother’s pleas went unheeded as the boy was seized and brought before Moses.
Moses demanded that he be put into custody until he could seek the Lord’s face to know what was to be to done with the boy.
The Lord spoke His judgement - swift and unmerciful. “Take him who cursed outside the camp, let all those who heard what he said, lay their hands on his head.. and then instruct all the congregation to stone him to death.”

When Moses spoke the Lord’s words to the people… they obeyed immediately and did as the Lord had commanded.

If this would have happened today instead of several thousand years ago… there would be an immediate public outcry ! “Cruel and unusual punishment!!!” And who would believe that Moses had truly heard God’s voice commanding him to have the boy publically stoned ?

Granted, the most stern among us grapple with this kind of punishment – at least our first reaction! But it is in our bible. It is recorded for our learning .. for our admonition.
I wonder how many of you reading this today were familiar with this story tucked into the pages of a little read book .. Leviticus. (24:10-23)

Does this account fit with your image of God?
Is our God not a merciful God, a forgiving God ?
Before you brush this aside as being Old Testament.. lay this story alongside the New Testament story of Ananias and Sapphira whom God struck dead for “a little white lie”.

Our Leviticus story is the very first reference to anyone blaspheming against God or of someone cursing God.

Are you curious what the boy actually said ? Where did the words come from ? We are given one hint… his father was Egyptian. Had his father taught him what he had learned back in Egypt ? Although, if you are a parent have you not been shocked at how early our little ‘angels’ find the words to tell us how angry they are with us when we don’t let them have their way?
I do not believe this boy was a very small child. He was probably more a youth.

I did a bit of a word study to gain some insight into the severity of the boy’s crime.
What does it mean to blaspheme? The original Hebrew word means literally to bore through… to violently poke holes. Poke holes in what ? The character of God – either by scoffing, making light of God or by slander….telling lies about Him!
To curse is to declare someone to be evil, utterly detestable.

No one of any culture would dare to speak thus about their gods – not without fearing for his life.
Could God turn a blind eye? Could He say .. “awww.. I’ll let it go this time… maybe he didn’t understand.”
Obviously, he did understand! He used the words to express the thoughts of his heart. He believed that he could get away with it. But he couldn’t. If God had allowed Him to get away with it …….. people watching would have lost their fear of God. And when fear of God is gone.. a violent criminal society is not far behind.
Are we not living the consequences of a non-God-fearing society ? Are we not a criminal society surrounded by uncontrolled violence?

We have taken on the mind set of defending the criminal, protecting his rights, making sure he isn’t mistreated ! YES ! he is innocent until proven guilty! But when he is undeniably guilty he must bear his shame and appropriate punishment.

Was God unfair? Hardly! God had given the warning… He commanded the people that none should blaspheme Him… nor curse Him. Exo 22:28 "You shall not revile (same Hebrew word translated ‘blaspheme’ in our Lev. Story) God, nor curse a ruler of your people. “
The people all understood – we have the evidence of how quickly the boy was taken to Moses.

If we do not let God’s love burn away our weakness toward sin … then our sin will be our curse.

Man needs strong deterrents.
No one drives down the wrong side of the freeway.
No one drinks the insecticide that they pour on their garden.
No one puts their hand into the fames of a campfire.
No one opens the door of an airplane and steps out.
Why ? the deterrent is too strong… We KNOW and BELIEVE the consequences that are unavoidable.
So is it not wise on God’s part , when He sets up the government of His kingdom ..both physically or spiritually, that He makes the deterrents strong to help us live the way we should ? and also to create a free and safe environment?

But there is also another reason … God is a holy God and hates sin. Sin is contrary to His nature and destroys what He loves. We need to change the way we have today diluted ‘sin’ to the realms of ‘mistakes, or missing the mark, or physiological tendencies, or mental disorder, or even justified by excuses- ‘I’m only human’ ’ Sin is Sin – live contrary to the laws and commandments of God and the consequences are fatal – every time.

By making an example of the one boy… God saved many more who would , through this example, avoid the danger. We know the wisdom of that reflected in our every day sayings, “A stitch in time saves nine” “Nip it in the bud” “Do the crime, do the time”. We are always crying for stronger police protection, tougher laws, stiffer sentences. Why do we think God should have a lower standard of justice than we have ?
God knows exactly what works and what doesn’t. Had we followed God’s rules for government we would not be in the mess we are today – a society gone mad. And had we followed His rules for the church we would not have the problems we have today with the world's standards and thinking sooo infiltrating our sanctuaries that we have made it ‘user friendly’ to those who have never been born again.

We have the example of Ananias and Sapphira…. God revealed His judgement against sin through their sudden death.. and the result ? The people feared … and a pure church was the end result.

I know that there is a wave, a move spreading abroad to day to make God a permissive, all encompassing, compassionate God who in the end will bring everyone into fellowship with Him, regardless of the life path they chose.
My friends… that is not true! And in the end those who buy into that philosophy will pay with eternity .
I think the time has come where we need to stand strong and declare that our God reigns.. Our God is Powerful and the One most Wise and before Him every knee will bow !
He is a God who demands our obedience but He is also the most loving Father to those who love Him and have fellowship with Him and one with another.

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." (1Jn 3:3)


Elsie said...

Excellent post, Julie. When there is no fear of God it leads to apathy, then apostasy, then anarchy. That's the downward spiral seen over and over again in the book of Judges, and it's happening in our society today. Thanks for being a voice of truth!!

Lovella ♥ said...

Juilie such a timely post. It is fascinating to watch society completely turn away from the total truth that obedience is the only option we have. . and to watch permissiveness be the rage when Godly instruction is akin to hate mongering. . .

Betty said...

Another great post. You have the guts to say it like it is. I like that.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

Demara said...

I believe God is a compassionate loving Father, but I also believe He is a tough loving Father who disciplines His children who disobey Him and treat Him with disrespect.

Our God should be trusted, respected, and lifted high every second, that's why He gave us thoughts I think, so we can think before we act! Although, He is with us in our thoughts as well. Only He is! That's why I think it's important we be careful what we input into our brains through the openings. Let us put on the full Armour of God and protect our lives for eternity. May God be praised now and forever more, Amen!

Anneliese said...

Julie, I've appreciated your deep thoughts as well.(The first time, I think,was through Lovellas' blog and I didn't know that soon I'd actually get to know you!)I also say thank you for speaking truth into our lives. I don't remember the story of the boy and it sounds very harsh, but I like what you say about man needing strong deterents. We accept the law of gravity and physical laws but we often don't want to accept the spiritual laws of our holy God, Who does know what is best.