Numbers 15-16

“One day while the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they discovered a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. The people who found him doing this took him before Moses, Aaron, and the rest of the community. They held him in custody because they did not know what to do with him. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘The man must be put to death! The whole community must stone him outside the camp.’ So the whole community took the man outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” 15:32-36

A lot else is going on in this chapter, but this piece jumped out to me. I resonate with it, and parts of it make me uncomfortable. It’s important, in Bible reading, to sort through the verses of Scripture that rub you the wrong way. Although we might not answer every question we have, I’ve always benefitted from facing my discomfort head on. Reading the Bible should feel like spending time with God, and when I ignore or skip over weird parts, it puts distance between us. When I push back a little in my doubt or frustration with his Story, it strengthens my trust in him. It doesn’t necessarily tie everything up in a bow, but our relationship always grows.

The Sabbath comes up a lot in the Bible. Here we see someone punished for gathering wood when he should be completely “resting”. The people who found him do not let him get away with this. I wonder how they felt as he was being dragged out to be stoned. Justified? Regretful? We are called to confront fellow believers on their sin. But there’s something to be said about giving someone the opportunity to repent after you call them out. I wonder if they gave him the chance to confess before he was in custody? Would God have responded differently? The text doesn’t specify.

What’s wrong with gathering some firewood? A couple things. Everyone knows when and what the Sabbath is, so he was pretty blatantly disobeying God when he made that choice. Also, he didn’t plan ahead; he didn’t have enough firewood to carry him through until the Sabbath was over. Or, he was worried there wasn’t enough firewood around for everyone and was sneaking out to grab some before everyone else headed out in the morning. I think one of the main reasons Sabbath-ing is so important to God and so hard for us is because it’s hinged on trust. Bethany unfolded this well in this recent post.

What do you stock up on instead of trusting God? Money? Resources? Firewood is how people kept their families warm and how they cooked their food in the wilderness. The man in this story didn’t trust that God would carry him through and provide for him in his weakness (of not planning ahead or having enough).

Where are you weak? Do you trust that God will provide enough for you? 




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