The Hebrew word for holy (H6918) simply means set apart. Israel was to be holy or set apart from its neighbors. What would it mean to be set apart from another nation? Well, in 1776 we in America set ourselves apart from our mother nation, England, and our king. We eventually became an independent nation, governing ourselves. However, in 1812 England’s navy not only hindered our international trade, but also sought to steal away citizens of America on the high seas and induct them into the service of England and her king. Such activity not only humiliated the United States, but it also didn’t recognize our national sovereignty, and war ensued between our two countries for 2 ½ years. Our set apartness had been violated. When Charles De Gaulle visited Canada in 1967 and implied he supported an independent Quebec, he was rebuked publicly by Prime Minister Pearson, and as a result De Gaulle cut his visit to Canada short. He intruded on the sovereignty of a nation that was set apart from France.
Because we are a democratic society, we often judge other governments by using our own as a model. Naturally, few, in any, measure up! Is anyone surprised? It also seems that the new atheists demonstrate their intolerance for a theocracy, such as that of ancient Israel, by criticizing any of its laws that lend respect for God, including laws against blasphemy and idolatry. Why would it be wrong for blasphemy to be a capital crime in a theocracy? Blasphemy, as I have shown in a previous blogpost, is the intention of removing the name of God or any reference to God from that nation. That is similar to threatening the life of the President in America, which is not taken lightly and viewed as a capital offense! In 1812 we declared war on England, because she demonstrated she didn’t recognize our name as a sovereign nation. Yet, ‘blasphemy’ – the effort to remove God’s sovereignty over his own nation (a theocracy) – is considered by the new atheists as an ‘imaginary’ crime.
In America we celebrate religious freedom, and I join in with my fellow Americans and celebrate it as well. I would not want to live today in any nation that didn’t protect the rights of its people to worship as they chose. That said, Israel was the only nation in history that was ever begun by God. It was a theocracy. By its very nature it excluded religious freedom, and rightfully so! God, himself, was in the place of the King of England or the President of the United States, except that he chose to rule Israel . Just as two kings could never be tolerated in England, or two or more presidents in America, no more than one God was permitted in Israel by the Mosaic Law. Why is that so difficult for the new atheists to understand? Why shouldn’t the worship of foreign gods be a capital offense in Israel?
Mediums, sorcerers and false prophets were also forbidden in Israel under pains of death, according to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 13:1-11). God is a God of life, not death (Matthew 22:32), and these people thought to forecast the future by seeking to contact the dead and / or demonic spirits (cf. Leviticus 19:28, Deuteronomy 14:1). In other words, they advocated going after another god or other gods instead of the Lord, God of Israel. They advocated rebellion or independence, similar to what Charles De Gaulle implied in his speech at Montreal in 1967. He was publicly rebuked by the Prime Minister of Canada, and De Gaulle considered it prudent to leave Canada earlier than planned. His speech, implying French support for an independent Quebec, was considered a breach of protocol between France and Canada. If the world recognizes the gravity of such a breach, why would it be difficult for the new atheists to understand that mediums, sorcerers and false prophets, who also advocated independence from the then current head of a theocratic state (God), would not be welcome or tolerated in ancient Israel?
 As I said HERE, this current theme about “making sense of the Old Testament God” is based upon the book: Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan. These are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Paul wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read concerning defending our faith.