Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him. Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died. (Numbers 15:32-36)
The Charge Is Stick Picking Up
When the people of Israel were in the wilderness a remarkable story took place. A man was brought before Moses charged with a serious crime. It was not murder, adultery or stealing. As a matter of fact it was not anything on its surface that was immoral act. Moses saw the group coming towards him with a man in tow. He must have wondered what the man had done to deserve this treatment. As the crowd brought forth the man Moses and Aaron learned he was guilty of picking up sticks. But the remarkable charge against him was that he picked up sticks on the Sabbath day. For the people of Israel this was new territory. They did not know what to do. It seems Moses was unsure. The Lord comes to Moses and tells him he must keep the law as ordained earlier and explained to the people. God had previously told the people through Moses that work was be done on six days but no work would be done on the seventh day. This included building a fire on the Sabbath day. Anyone who built a fire or worked on the seventh day would be put to death.
It seems the people along with Moses and Aaron were not ignorant of the law; it seems they were unsure whether to put a man to death for picking up sticks. The crime of sticking-picking-up did not measure up the obvious penalty for murder or adultery. They found a man doing what everyone did every day. There was sympathy for the man. But the word came clear from the Lord that ALL the congregation would have to stone the man with stones outside the camp. The crowd came to the man and explained the sentence. He no doubt pleaded for mercy screaming for someone to save his life. As the congregation dragged the man outside the camp he fell down in their midst begging for them to spare him. Someone threw the first stone. Then another. And another. Finally after a barrage of stones the man lay dead. The crowd stood silent. Many wept. Eyes were filled with horror. They walked away. Someone buried the man in the wilderness. The mood of the people was very somber. They had just executed a man for picking up sticks. But there was something more. It was because he did so on the Sabbath day.
Stories like this should have stayed in the minds of the people forever. How could they continue to be so rebellious towards God? What they learned in the execution of this man was that God’s word is sacred, it is Holy and it must be obeyed. The history of the children of Israel is how often they forgot the man who picked up sticks. There is penalty for disobeying the Lord. He could have had a thousand reasons for picking up sticks but he refused to humble himself and trust God. He suffered the penalty.
The majority of people today are like the man who picked up sticks. They are good people who have been lulled into the belief that it does not matter what one believes. It is okay to live in a manner that seems right before the eyes of the world. God has a different view. The man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath day did not change the law of God. Attitudes of people today will not change the law of God. What the Lord has inscribed upon the tablets of His will remain unchanged. Keep some sticks handy to remind you of the law of God. This is a great story.
If God lived on earth, people would break His windows. (Proverb)