Is the God of the Old Testament…?
What do you do with the story of the guy who was stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath? I taught on this in Sunday school this past week.
While the people 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 in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. 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 all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses (Numbers 15:32-36).
The people know the guy has done something wrong. That’s why they bring him to Moses and Aaron. But they just aren’t sure how to punish him. What will YHWH say? There are at least four options:
1) Have him put the sticks back and tell him not to do it again.
2) Get him to repent then show him mercy.
3) Ostracize him. Send him back to Egypt, or forward to Canaan.
4) Kill him. By stoning. With the entire community (get the whole family involved).
Why does YHWH pick option #4? If someone asked you about this story what would you say? In the next blog, I’ll discuss your answers as well as my own. So, make some comments.
No cheating, if you’ve read God Behaving Badly. I’m not even going to tell you where I discuss this story.