An online CNN article yesterday recognized the first organized “Blasphemy Day.” Marked by the slogan “Nothing is Sacred,” and part of a “Campaign for Free Expression, the day was set to coincide with the 5th anniversary of a Danish’ newspaper’s publication of cartoons that so offended followers of Islam.
The sponsoring group claims 100,000 international members and is encouraging submission of “blasphemous” statements like, “”There’s nothing wrong with God that a dose of reality won’t cure.”
The news piece prompted me to do a search for what the Bible says about blasphemy.
Leviticus 24:11-16 shows that under the law of Moses, deliberate blasphemy was a capital offense.
Another interesting reference has some connections to the city of Nineveh that we’ve been thinking about in our last conversation. In the 8th century BC, Sennacherib, the Assyrian King of Nineveh surrounded Jerusalem and mocked the God of Israel.
According to “The New Bible Dictionary,” the event is documented in Sennacherib’s own words in which he describes how he attacked, “Hezekiah the Jew … [and] shut him up like a caged bird within his royal capital, Jerusalem.”
In response, Hezekiah, the king of Jerusalem declared the event a “day of …blasphemy” and appealed to the LORD of Israel to protect the Jewish people (2Kings 19:3-4). Isaiah the prophet responded to Hezekiah’s plea saying, “Thus says the LORD: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” (2Kings 24:6-7).
The fulfillment of this prediction and the subsequent defeat of the Assyrian army by “the angel of the LORD” (2Kings 19:32-25) reminds us that the living God is not intimidated by human insult or mockery.
Prophets of Israel like Elijah and Isaiah were known for exposing the powerlessness of false gods (1Kings 18:19-40; Isa 44:12-19).
Far more importantly, Jesus was executed on charges of blasphemy (John 10:33; Matt 26:64-65).
So, in this light, how do followers of Christ think through the ideas behind a “Blasphemy Day?” Some of us live in a land protected by “free speech” laws. None of us live under the Law of Moses. Our own Savior was tortured and executed with charges that he had insulted the one true God.
Seems to me that our Teacher gives us a new way of responding to blasphemy. He responded to those who accused him of doing his miracles in the power of Beelzebub, prince of demons (Matt 12:24), by dying for his accusers. Instead of calling for their arrest and execution, he spoke the truth in love… and then let love and truth speak for themselves.