Last Updated on :Thursday, November 20, 2014
"BLASPHEMY" AND "NAMES OF BLASPHEMY" [Rev. 17:3]
(i) BLASPHEMY SCRIPTURALLY DEFINED
"I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given to us to consume. Thus with your mouth ye have spoken great things against me, and have multiplied your words against me; I have heard them" (Ezek. 35:12,13).
IN the above passage of Ezekiel's prophecy the word "blasphemies" in the original text is neahtzoth, reproaches, contumelies, or, in the words of the prophet, "great things spoken with the mouth against" an object.
In the Greek, neahtzoth is expressed by the noun blasphemiai, which the English or Anglo-Saxon reader will readily perceive is the anglicized word blasphemies in its Greek dress. It is derived from the verb blasphemeo, which is itself derived from the phrase blaptein ten phemen, to injure the reputation or fame of any object; which, if undeservedly done, is to calumniate, rail against, revile, reproach it, etc.
In scripture the objects of blasphemy are various, such as "God, his name, his tabernacle, them that dwell in the heaven", the Jews, the mountains of Israel, the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of God, the word of God, the sanctified of the Father, the king of Israel.
The following passages will sufficiently establish this. In Rev. 13:5,6 it is said that a mouth was given to the Gentile Beast, or System of Powers, "speaking great things and blasphemies. And he opened his mouth (papal) in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his Name and his tabernacle and those dwelling in the heaven"; that is, to the injury of the reputation of all these in the estimation of society.
Jews " are blasphemed by pretenders to that honourable
community who cannot establish their claim to citizenship
in the commonwealth of Israel. Thus in Rev. 2:9, the
king of the Jews says, "I know the blasphemy of
those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the
synagogue of Satan": and in chapter 3:9, he styles
The text at the head of this article shows that the mountains of Israel may be blasphemed, and that in blaspheming them Jehovah [Yahweh] is Himself blasphemed.
Mark testifies to the Holy Spirit being an object of blasphemy in his day, in 3:29,30; and Paul exhorts or commands that Christians, who are servants and wives, be respectful and obedient to their masters and husbands, that the name, doctrine and word of God be not blasphemed (1 Tim. 6: 1; Titus 2:5).
To blaspheme is, therefore, in a scriptural sense, to bring divine things into disrepute; so that whatever words or doings tend to, or really do accomplish this, are blasphemies.
The punishment of blasphemy, by divine law, is death. "He that blasphemeth the name of Jehovah [Yahweh] shall surely be put to death, as well the stranger as he that is born in the land" (Lev. 24:16).
For men to say they are Jews, while yet they are not, is blasphemy, because it is a lie, whether they intend to lie or not. The intention does not alter the fact. Lying is the hypostasis or substance of blasphemy; for no good thing can be injured by the truth. When Gentiles, who are neither Jews outwardly nor inwardly, pretend to be Jews, they calumniate that society of which the King of Jews is the chief; and in so doing they calumniate or blaspheme him; the change of object from the less to the greater only enhances its iniquity. Verbal and practical lying are both mortal sins; but their iniquity is aggravated when the lie is against God, His name, and His doctrine or word. Practical lying is profession contradicted by practice. Thus, "If we say we have fellowship with God and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth". "If a man say I love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 1:6; 4:20), and, "If ye love me, keep my commandments". (John 14:15) for "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you". [John 15:14] Thus, the truth of men's professions is made to turn upon the conformity of their actions to the words of God. When those actions are a denial of His doctrine or word they make God a liar, so far as their influence extends. If their words and actions agree, and both give the lie to God or His word, which is the same thing, though less hypocritical, they are not less impious; and the impiety is itself blasphemy.
No greater offence can be committed against God than not to believe what He has promised. The reason of this, is because he,"HAS MAGNIFIED HIS WORD ABOVE ALL HIS NAME"; [Ps. 138:2] and not to believe that word is to treat Him as a liar, which is blasphemy; and "he that blasphemeth the name of Jehovah [Yahweh] shall surely be put to death", [Lev. 24:16] whether Gentile or Jew; this is the reason why it is decreed that "he who believeth not (the gospel) shall be condemned". [Mark 16:16] When we do not believe we walk in darkness and walking in darkness, or unbelief, we do not the truth; for in relation to the truth no man can walk in the light of what he does not see, or do that in which he does not believe.
There is another form of lying or blasphemy against God which is brought out in the text from Ezekiel. It is this; If men in their ignorance or impiety affirm a thing, which in its logical or practical bearing contravenes the promises of Jehovah [Yahweh], they blaspheme, or speak evil of the subjects of those promises; and in so doing speak words against, or blasphemies against the promiser.
If the reader peruse Ezek. 35 in the light of God's covenanted promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and their seed, he cannot, we think, fail readily to perceive the truth of our statement. In that writing, Mount Seir, the seat of Edom's dominion, is addressed as a Power having perpetual hatred against the descendants of Jacob; rejoicing in their calamities, and in actual occupation of their country, commonly styled THE HOLY LAND. While thus possessed of Palestine as the fruit of conquest, Seir is represented as saying of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, "These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it though Jehovah [Yahweh] were there". (Ezek. 35:10) Upon this the prophet forewarns them that Idumea shall be recompensed according to its hatred of Israel, who shall be delivered after Idumea is destroyed; "I will make myself known among Israel when I have judged thee, O Mount Seir, saith Jehovah [Yahweh]; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah [Yahweh], and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume; thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me; I have heard them". [Ezek. 35:11-13]
The reader will observe that Jehovah [Yahweh] regards blasphemies, or false statements, concerning the destiny of the mountains of Israel, as great words or boastings against Himself; the Idumean Seir declares that those mountains, even though Jehovah [Yahweh] were there, would never belong to Israel, but to Edom; for it says, "they are mine, and we will possess it though the I -- Shall -- Be were there". [Ezek. 35:10] But why is this declaration a blasphemy against the Holy Land? and why, if a blasphemy against that land, is it a boast and multiplication of words against Jehovah [Yahweh]? Because it states falsely the destiny of Palestine. At present the two nations of Israel and Judah, and their special divisions of the Holy Land, are in the hands of Esau, Edom, or Idumea, synonyms of the power that in the latter days inherits the hatred of Isaac's eldest son against Jacob; "for", says Adonai Jehovah (Yahweh) (the Old Testament title rendered Lord Jesus in the New), "when the whole earth rejoices I will make thee desolate. As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the House of Israel because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee; thou shalt be desolate, O Mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it". (Ezek. 35:14-15)
Idumea, then, represents a power to be made desolate when the whole earth rejoices with God's people, Israel, as Moses has predicted. Idumea now triumphs over Israel and their land, and blasphemes them both; the Idumeans decree that Judah's and Israel's two territories shall for ever constitute integral parts of the Ottoman Empire* (*that is, in 1857.); and, consequently, that the two nations or twelve tribes of Jacob shall never constitute one independent kingdom and nation in the land; this is pronouncing a sore evil against Israel and their native mountains; but being a lie against their destiny it is a blasphemy against them all.
But why are these blasphemies against the Jews and their inheritance, boastings or calumnies against Jehovah (Yahweh)? Because, if it should so happen that Idumea, in this controversy concerning Zion, were to establish its power in the Holy Land, to the final exclusion and suppression of the kingdom and throne of David there, it would make the promises of Jehovah (Yahweh), which He has sworn by His own life and holiness to fulfil, of none effect. It is impossible that such a result should come to pass; but to attempt to establish it, or to declare such a result, or to believe the declaration, is equivalent to denying and rejecting the contrary, and in effect declaring that Jehovah (Yahweh) is a deceiver and a liar.
Now Iet us see what Jehovah [Yahweh] has said -- whether He has given the inheritance to Esau or to Jacob. Read the next chapter of Ezekiel; this portion of his prophecy contains a testimony of God in direct opposition to the blasphemies of the Idumean nations, concerning Israel and their mountains; the prophecy is addressed to these -- a prophecy of good things.
"Because, saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh], the enemy (a term which stands for the Desolater who triumphs while the land enjoys its Sabbaths) hath said against you, Aha! even the ancient high places are ours in possession" -- thus they boast at this day -- "therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith Adonai Jehovah (Yahweh), Because they have made you desolate and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession to the residue of the nations, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people; therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the words of Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh]: Thus saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh] to the mountains and to the hills, to the lowlands and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and a derision to the residue of the nations that are round about: therefore thus saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh]: Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the nations (that "residue" to be stamped with the feet of the fourth beast -- Dan. 7:19), and against all Idumea which have appointed my land for their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.
Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the lowlands and to the valleys, Thus saith Adonai Jehovah (Yahweh), I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the nations; therefore thus saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh]; I have lifted up my hand (that is, I have sworn), surely the nations that are about you, they shall bear their shame. But ye, 0 mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel, for they are at hand to come. For behold, I am for you, and will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown; and I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded; and I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit; and I will settle you after your old estates, and do better for you than at your beginnings; and ye shall know that I (Adonai) am the I-SHALL-BE. Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them; thus saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh], Because they say unto thee, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations; therefore thou shalt devour men no more, nor cause thy nations to fall any more; neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the nations any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh]" (Ezek. 36:1,2-15).
Here is a time indicated which has manifestly not come; for the Jews and their country are still subject to all these things, which at a "set time" (Psa. 102:13) of their history shall be no more.
There is another testimony in Ezekiel which convicts "the talkers" [Ezek. 36:3] of the Gentiles of blasphemy against the two nations and their two territories which they claim for themselves, and of calumny against God. In chap. 37:21-28, Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh] saith, "Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations whither they be gone, and I will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all; neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them; so shall they be my people, and I will be to them for Elohim. And David my servant (David II) shall be king over them, and they all (the twelve tribes) shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children, and their children's children during the age (ad-olam); and my servant David shall be prince over them for the age (le- olam); moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will place them and multiply them, and I will set my temple in the midst of them for the age (le-olam). My dwelling place also shall be with them: yea, I will be to them for Elohim, and they shall be to me for a people. And the Gentiles shall know that I, Jehovah [Yahweh], do sanctify Israel, when my temple shall be in the midst of them for the age (le-olam)."
From these testimonies, then, we learn that the following things are decreed:
1. -- That "the two countries", or territories of the Holy Land formerly occupied by the "two nations" of the Jews, that is, the kingdom of the Ten Tribes and the kingdom of Judah, are to be exalted to a better condition than when possessed by the Israelites in the beginning;
2. -- That the Gentile Power in possession of Adonai Jehovah's (Yahweh's) land is to be finally dispossessed when He makes himself known among Israel's tribes;
3. -- That "all the house of Israel, even all of it" are to take possession of the land, and to be settled upon its mountains, and hills, and lowlands, and valleys, and desolate wastes, and forsaken cities, after the old estates of their realm, in peace, plenty, security, and great perpetual prosperity;
4. -- That the nations and kingdoms of Israel and Judah shall be one united nation and kingdom upon the mountains of Israel; so that "Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" any more: but as a bird of prey, "they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west (the western powers); they shall spoil them in the east together; they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them" (Isa. 11:13,14);
5. -- That when finally resettled in Adonai Jehovah's [Yahweh's] land (his, by covenant made with Abraham and his seed, "who is the Christ", (Gal. 3:16) says Paul), the whole twelve tribes will be under one supreme head or king;
6. -- That they will then be a purified and sanctified people -"they shall defile themselves no more with any of their transgressions"; (Ezek. 37:23) this implies that all their past national offences will have been blotted out;
7. -- That their Shepherd-King will be a David, and immortal; and reign over them during the age of their national glory, however long its continuance may be predetermined by Jehovah [Yahweh] (ad-olam);
8. -- That all these benefits will be guaranteed to the nation by the "covenant of the age"; styled also the "covenant of peace" (berith shalom, berith olam); the Constitution of the Kingdom, in the phraseology of the Gentiles; (Ezek. 37:26)
9. -- That during the age, and for the purposes thereof, a Temple will be placed in the midst of the nation. Ezekiel described it, chapters 40-42. The mystery of the temple is set forth by Paul, Peter and John;
10. -- That Adonai Jehovah (Yahweh), Israel's Shepherd-King, will dwell with them, and be to them for Elohim, or Gods -- for all the saints or future kings and priests of Israel and the nations are consitutionally or federally "in him"; HE is for Gods.
Now, these ten items, deduced from the foregoing testimonies, are the intelligible and obvious purpose of Jehovah [Yahweh], with respect to Canaan and its heirs national. No language could have been devised to make His intentions plainer or more easy to be understood. He has not said that these things may come to pass if fortuitous circumstances favour their development; but He has declared that He will create the situation that shall necessitate the results; and that He will accomplish, them, not for the sake of the generation of Israel existing at, the crisis but for their fathers' sake, on whose account they are beloved, and for the honour of His own character. "I have pity for my holy name, which the house of Israel have profaned among the nations whither they went; therefore say unto the house of Israel: Thus saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh]; I do not for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for my holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the nations whither ye went. And I will sanctify My GREAT NAME which was profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am the Jehovah [Yahweh], saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh], when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land" (Ezek. 36:21- 24).
How easy to be understood, how devoid of mystification! Is it not astonishing that any man professing to believe and study the scriptures should affirm that God has utterly and for ever cast off the Jews; that there will be no restoration of them to Palestine; and that God has no more use for them than for the gypsies! To affirm this is to speak blasphemies, or lies, against the mountains and people of Israel; and in so doing to speak great things against God with the mouth, and to multiply words against Him. This is the wickedness of all the children of Esau. Nationally they seize upon Jacob's inheritance, slay his seed with the sword, and proclaim the independence and integrity of a dominion that incorporates the land of Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh] and His people in its domains. "These two nations and these two territories", say they, "shall be mine, and we will possess it though Jehovah Yahweh] were there", (Ezek. 35:10) "they are laid desolate, they are given to us to consume". (Ezek. 35:12) Individually, they endorse the truth of this; they preach it from their "sacred desks"; they publish it in their creeds; ignoring Israel and Israel's land in all the plentitude and folly of their traditions. But the issue is briefly and simply this: If the doctrine of Esau's progeny be true, then the promises of Jehovah [Yahweh], covenanted with an oath, and confirmed by the blood of Adonai Jehovah (Yahweh), are a deceit and a bald imposition on the credulity of the Jewish nation and their friends. TO AFFIRM THE DOCTRINE OF ESAU IS TO GIVE THE LIE TO GOD.
But with the apostles, we say, "Let God be true, but every man a liar; as it written, That thou mightest overcome when thou art judged". [Rom. 3:4] The sentence of God stands firm though over thirty-eight hundred years have elapsed since it was uttered -- "The elder shall serve the younger". [Gen. 25:23 Edom shall be subject to Jacob; therefore Edom shall not always triumph in the land. He that doctrinally reverses this decree belongs to the family of Esau, sets himself against the promises of God, and becomes the enemy of Jacob. Can the reader possibly have any difficulty in discerning this principle? We blaspheme God when we affirm the contrary of what He decrees. It is an oblique method of telling Him that He has not decreed the truth. It is taking sides against him in "THE CONTROVERSY OF ZION" (Isa. 34:8), a controversy to be decided in favour of them that believe truth.
This great controversy it is that in reality defines the seeds -- the seed of the woman, and the seed of her enemy. The seed of the woman are all on the side of Zion. They believe all "the glorious things" that Jehovah [Yahweh] hath spoken concerning her. They love Jerusalem, and rejoice in all the good Jehovah [Yahweh] hath sworn to do unto her; while they repudiate with indignation all traditions which reduce the promises to a nullity. This is right in every view; for to make void the future glory of Zion is to rob the faithful of their inheritance for "Salvation", saith Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh], "is of the Jews", [John 4:22] and when men are robbed of their rights, they do not feel very charitable towards the thieves.
All systems of religion, or forms of faith, are blasphemies or "abominations", which uphold dogmas subversive of the promises of Jehovah [Yahweh]. Piety of disposition in the worshippers, or moral precepts commingled in their ethics, will not transform blasphemies or indignities into things worthy of God. His doctrine and word are blasphemed when they are brought into disrepute, and contempt is generated in men's minds respecting the things they set forth. This is characteristic of the thing called "orthodoxy" among the Gentiles; which assigns all the curses of God to the Jews, and all His blessings to their enemies. But all Gentilisms that do this, whether orthodox or heterodox, are blasphemies against God, His name, His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. They constitute the darkness of this world, and they who walk in them "walk in darkness", [1 John 1:6] and neither believe nor do the truth. Such, persons are very apt to "say they have fellowship with God", [1 John 1:6] because they appear to one another to be righteous in talking piety, and making long prayers; and because, under the influence of human applause, they "feel good", profess to be "at peace with God", and are on excellent terms with themselves. But it is easy to show that their peace with God and their conscience is all on one side
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