So Moses spoke to the people of Israel, and they brought out of the camp the one who had cursed and stoned him with stones. Thus the people of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.
This is the first recorded instance of punishment for a capital offense in Israel recorded in Leviticus. The crime? Blaspheming the holy name of God. It was a crime of passion. Two men were fighting (evidently arguing) in the camp, and one of them cursed the name of God in the altercation. This probably happens like 18 times a minute in America. But Israel was a theocracy in a different relational economy with God. This was a crime punishable by death under the Law.
Moses brought the offender into custody and brought the matter before God before any action was taken. God responded with revelation (most of this chapter) detailing the reality of the offense and what constituted a capital crime. He also clearly elaborated on the punishments to insure that Israel did not become partial in the administration of this sentence.
And the pattern in Leviticus continues. As God reveals more of the Law, Israel responds in a step of obedience. This obedience was deadly serious. The people stoned the offender. And the result was serious. A man died for his disrespect for a holy God. If this happened this way today, what would American conversation be like? I am not advocating that we do this, just wondering out loud what different people we would be if we were executed for casually and irreverently taking God’s name in vain. Kind of gives the OMG acronym a threatening feel doesn’t it? Personally, I find the pause when I think over this to be very spiritually healthy.