We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones–But God Can Kill You!

I was reading in Numbers 15 this morning and came across a disturbing passage. The text reads that there was a man who was found picking up sticks on the Sabbath day. Then some busybody Sabbath keepers saw him, initiated a citizen’s arrest, and brought him to Moses for judgment. Since this was the first test case for this new law, I tried putting myself in Moses’s place to see how I would decide this case.
Now if one of my children broke one of my rules, what would I do? If he was young he might get a spanking. If he was older, I would talk to him and find out why he broke my rule. If he was defiant, then there would be a punishment of some kind that would help him to see that there are consequences for his attitude and actions. If the breaking of the rule was unintentional, then mercy would be my course of action.

So let’s see what Moses decides. First, he takes the offender to a higher court and asks God to give the determination. Uh oh–something tells me that this should have stayed with the lower courts. God’s verdict? STONE HIM! What? You’ve got to be kidding me! This must be some kind of idle threat to serve as a scare tactic. But no. God is serious. “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.’ And the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Numbers 15:35-36)

There must be some kind of mistake. What kind of father or God would be so harsh? Is this the same God who exercises mercy to a thousand generations? I must be missing something here. Well, before we misjudge the God of all the earth, I suggest that we read the entire chapter of Numbers 15–and tomorrow we’ll learn the rest of the story!

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 3:07 am  Leave a Comment  

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