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He Shall Bear His Sin…


Leviticus 24:15-16, “Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of YHWH shall surely be put to death.”


Conforming Theological Imagination To Divine Revelation

This is the sort of text that forces me to wrestle a bit with my own theology—which is good! Over the last few years, I have become increasingly convinced that the Name of God—the Name of YHWH—is definitively manifest at the cross of Christ. THAT is who God is. There is no more perfect communication of the essential character of the One True God than in the substitutionary, sin-bearing, wrath-absorbing, love-driven outpouring of the Son’s life on the cross. God’s Name is, as it were, Christ crucified for sinners.

However, if this is true, how is it that whoever blasphemes the Name of YHWH is stoned to death by the community? How is capital punishment for the sinner a way to magnify the Name of the One who’s Name is most perfectly magnified by bearing “capital punishment” in the place of sinners? It would seem that if His Name is truly the Name we hear on Calvary, and if He desired to manifest the glory of this Name to the people, He would not cause the blasphemer  to be stoned, but rather to be forgiven…..but—as is always the case when human imagination attempts to trump divine revelation—that is a thin and watery substitute for the rich wine of beauty that the Lord declares to us in this text.


Who Bears Our Sins?

It all hinges on the statement, “…shall bear his sin.” The implication carried in this judgment seems to be that there are sins for which one does not bear their own sin. For example, all the sins for which a sacrificial animal is received in place of the sinner (as in the scapegoat ritual during the day of atonement 16:22). Sins for which one is able to repent and seek the steadfast love and faithfulness of YHWH are sins that, it seems, the guilty party does not “bear” in the same way as the one who blasphemes.

The blasphemer (one who “curses his God”), on the other hand, has removed himself from under the covering of YHWH. In cursing God, in blaspheming the Name that is his only security and defense, he has willfully and blatantly stepped out from under the banner of that Name and so now—unlike in some other instances of the sins of God’s people—the blasphemer “shall bear his sin.”

Again, this reasoning points to the fact that there must be situations in which one does not bear their own sin……but, if one has forsaken the wings of YHWH, then they do bear their own sin. Who then bears the sin for those who have not stepped out from beneath the Lord’s Name? Is it the bulls and goats and lambs of the sacrifice? In a token way, yes, but animals are not ultimately able to bear the consequences for human sin (Heb.10:4) Then what or who bears the sins of those who remain in covenant with YHWH? The answer is YHWH Himself.


Culminating At The Cross

Yes, HE bears the sins of His people. HE carries their iniquities in His own flesh through the incarnate Son (1 Pt. 2:24) and HE swallows up the curse due to their sin by becoming a curse on the tree (Gal.3:130). He does this because of who He is (Phil.2:6-11); being God, being YHWH, He will humble Himself in the Son and bear the sin and suffering and sorrow and death of His people in their place…..This is who He is….this is YHWH. And the one who blasphemes His Name takes himself out from under this substitutionary covering and so bears his own sin. In this text that bearing of sin takes the form of capital punishment, at the last judgment it will take the form of the Lake of Fire.

So, by implementing what at first seems to be a punishment at odds with the glory of the Name we hear on Calvary, YHWH actually exalts the glory of that Name, showing that He Himself is the sin-bearer for all who will hide in Him; correspondingly, those who refuse Him will bear their own sin.

And, of course, both of these realities are depicted at the cross……as I’ve said before, the climactic expression of Love at the cross is simultaneously the climactic expression of wrath. For those who receive the One who is cursed upon the tree as Lord and God and Savior and Life, Calvary sings love over them. But for those who reject this Crucified one, then the curse that they see hanging on the tree is their own and they will bear it in their flesh in hell.

May everyone reading these words remain like nestling birds under the wings of our great Lord and God and Savior, and may His Name be an ever more precious and weighty reality in our lives.