While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. The LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses (32-36).
I tried and tried to avoid this paragraph. But it was no use. These words kept beckoning me to think on them.
I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I could be party to stoning someone. Gruesome and horrible are two words that come to mind immediately. I know life was rougher and more earthy back then. People slaughtered their own animals. Death was part of life. You buried your own dead. However, to kill someone through stoning is unimaginable for me.
God was certainly driving home a point. The Sabbath was not to be broken. It was God’s day and work was forbidden. Spend time with the Lord. Spend time with family or clansmen and friends. Rest, sleep, nap, and relax but NO work.
The Sabbath was special and set apart for the Lord. It was different than every other day.
I still cannot get over the severity of the punishment. I wonder if this is a case of defiant sin (see 30-31). I cannot say for certain, but it is plausible, especially since there was no sacrifice for defiant sin.
Whatever the reason, death by stoning makes a statement! Also, having the entire community take part in the stoning certainly underscores the statement. Everyone will understand the sanctity of the Sabbath.
We don’t treat the Sabbath with anything near this reverence today. Then again, we don’t treat any of the 10 Commandments with this reverence.
Where does this take me? God expects us to keep His Word. And a breach of His Word carries a punishment. Unintentional sinning can be atoned for; defiant sin garners a severe punishment. All of this causes me to be so thankful for Jesus who carried all our sin to the cross. All of it!
Faith in Jesus makes all the difference…
Thank You, Lord, God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit –thank You for forgiveness, atonement, restoration, renewal. Thank You for Your grace! I am eternally grateful because I have fallen so short of desires and Your commands. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.