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Leviticus 24

Talks for Growing Christians

The Execution of a Blasphemer; The Law of Retaliation

Leviticus 24

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Lesson Number 25

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Under the Law, the lamps and the loaves were maintained.
  2. Under the Law, blasphemers were executed.
  3. Under the Law, the lex talionis was prescribed.

Practical Application

  1. Be faithful in the mundane maintenance as well as in mountaintop moments.

Questions

  1. There were no chapter divisions in the original text of Leviticus. What is the connection between the seven feasts (now chapter 23) and the maintenance of the lamps and bread of the priests here in chapter 24?
  2. How was the Lampstand maintained?
  3. How was the Bread for the Priests maintained?
  4. Why was a young man put to death in verses 10-16?
  5. What was the lex talionis, and why was it given?
  6. In Matthew 5:38-39 was the Lord terminating the lex talionis?

Answers

  1. God’s people were not only to worship and serve Him on the special days of the year, but every day of the year. The daily maintenance of the lamps and weekly maintenance of the bread for the Table in the Tabernacle were an essential part of Israel’s worship of the Lord.
  2. The seven lamps of the Tabernacle lampstand or menorah had to be resupplied daily with clear olive oil so that they lamps could burn continuously. There were no windows in the Tabernacle, so all light was from the lampstand in the Holy Place.
  3. The Table of Bread for the priests called the Table of Showbread or the Table of the Bread of Presence was another article of furniture in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. On this table were placed twelve loaves or cakes of unleavened bread in two rows or columns of six cakes each. The twelve cakes of bread were food for the priests when they were replaced with fresh loaves every Sabbath.
  4. This young man blasphemed by either cursing the name of God or using the name of God in a curse. Such blasphemy required the death penalty.
  5. The lex talionis or law of retaliation was given as a limit to social justice – not as a right to take personal revenge. For example, if you punched out a tooth in a fight with your boss, he could not put you to death.
  6. No! The Lord was not terminating this moral law but was correcting the misuse of this law. The people at the time of Christ were using the lex talionis as a justification for taking personal revenge and personal vendettas. This law was never given for that reason; rather it was given in the context of social justice.

Discuss/Consider

  1. The Lampstand pictures Christ as the Light, and the Bread of the Priests portrays Christ as the Bread of Life. Discuss these spiritual pictures.
  2. The lex talionis or law of retaliation was designed to limit excessive revenge which was so often practiced in the ancient world (and today!). Why do our human hearts desire revenge? Why is the biblical principle of “the punishment must fit the crime” so important?

Challenge

  1. It’s easy to be faithful right after a mountaintop experience in our Christian life. It’s not as easy to be faithful in the mundane maintenance of daily Christian living. The priests were expected to be faithful in the routine matters, and you can be too.

Key Verses

  • “Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually.” Leviticus 24:2
  • “If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him— fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.” Leviticus 24:19-20

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