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 Your Bones–But God Can Kill You! Part 2

Yesterday we talked about God’s intolerance to the Sabbath stick gatherer from Numbers 15. What appeared to be an innocent stroll to pick up a few sticks turned out to be a mob-enticed crowd of stone throwers and one victim–quite dead. I had raised some doubt as to God’s apparent inconsistent and unreliable sense of justice. Not wanting to be a target for a divine lighting bolt, I think it is the better part of wisdom to get right to the point here.

First of all, in God there is no darkness at all. Genesis 18:25 states, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Without a sense of God’s goodness toward mankind, it is impossible to trust God when He appears unjust or too severe.

As I studied the stoning of the stick gatherer, I was reminded of the importance of letting Scripture interpret Scripture. If I were to read the account of the stick gatherer only, I would conclude that God seems to be unjust. But when I read the sentences just prior, I read these words: “But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is a native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he despised the word of the LORD and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”

As I take the context into consideration, it would appear that this stick gatherer had an axe to grind with God and wasn’t willing to let anyone tell him what to do. Furthermore, Numbers 15 is about God’s mercy toward unintentional sins. The stick gatherer appears to be intentionally breaking the rules. God is a merciful God to those who humble themselves, but for the one who thinks he can live life with a “high hand” according to his own rules, “calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken without remedy” (Proverbs 6).

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