Didn’t the Old Testament punish blasphemy with death? How is that different from radical Islam?
Question: “Didn’t the Old Testament punish blasphemy with death? How is that different from radical Islam?”
Answer: Leviticus 24:16 says, “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.” So, yes, the Mosaic Law did require the death penalty for those who blasphemed the name of God.
First, we must remember that the Israelites in the time of Moses lived under a theocracy. God’s people in the Old Testament prior to the coming of Christ were identified externally through their adherence to the Law. The theocracy encompassed everything from ceremonial religious rites to civic bylaws. The Law regulated dress code, diets, relationships, contracts, and even benevolence. The Law provided harsh penalties for wrongdoing, including the sin of blasphemy. One of the purposes of the Law was to establish the conviction that God is holy. God’s name, as an expression of His nature, is also holy (Psalm 99:3; Luke 1:49).
The coming of Christ signaled a transition in how God’s people are identified. They had been previously identified through the Jewish culture and a theocratic marriage of “church” and state. With Jesus came the New Covenant, and God’s people were identified internally: “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). In order to provide open access to God, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Law…
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