By: Rob Peralta
Perhaps one of the most dramatic and lesson-filled stories in God's word occurred in the book of Numbers. I call it "The Little Sticks Story." It has important truths and lessons we can learn. God has it there FOR A REASON. It is the observant, humble, learning servant that will gain wisdom when he studies this story. God places truths like little gold nuggets, and if we dig a little we'll find them and be joyful to know His word and truth. Let us look at this BIG AND IMPORTANT LESSON.
Our story begins in Numbers 15:22 to 15:31. The Lord tell His people through Moses and Aaron that if they sin (break His Commandments) there shall be two ways to deal with it: the "ignorant" sin would be forgiven with atonement. The "Blatant" or "Presumptuous" sin would not be forgiven, these people boldly decide to break His Law and therefore should be "cut off."
We must stop here for a moment and reassess what the situation was with these people (in their relationship with God). God had performed GREAT feats and wonders IN THEIR EYESIGHT, they saw Him in action. He left little doubt as to His closeness to them. The cloud during the day, the fire during the night. He now wanted "accountability" from them. So He made sure they KNEW just what sin meant. He was in effect warning them by basically saying "I AM YOUR GOD, THE GREAT I AM, PLEASE LISTEN TO ME."
To continue, we read in Numbers 15:32-34, "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks on the Sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron and unto all the congregation. And they put him in a ward because it was not declared what should be done to him." Let's look at this part more in depth.
We know that the Lord had previously declared that His Laws were holy and to be obeyed. They were not the "10 suggestions." He declared "presumptuous" sin was very serious and the offender must be "cut off." So the Lord left ALL without excuse. This man no doubt had a family and being in the desert (cold nights) probably was running low on firewood and wanted to provide for his family. But here is the big issue. This man's thinking and lack of fear of God, led him to think, "The Lord will understand, He knows we will suffer tonight if I don't get these sticks. He is compassionate." How many are thinking along THESE SAME LINES TODAY? The Lord will let this or that slide. He'll understand my circumstances. I can break these Commandments under the right circumstances.
Stop and think about something for a moment. Why do you think the Lord is so concerned that we keep His Sabbath Holy? I think there is a clear answer in His word. We, being HIS PEOPLE, are sanctified by keeping His Sabbath! (Exodus 31:13) "..My Sabbaths you shall keep (holy), for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that YOU MAY KNOW that I am the Lord WHO SANCTIFIES YOU." Each Sabbath we keep we get a little holier!
Then the story ends with the Lord declaring the man must die. Like I said it's a dramatic story but a important lesson to learn. In (Malachi 3:6) we read "For I am the Lord, I change not." That means He's the same as when this story took place. His Laws remain just that --His Laws.
So let's learn the lesson here. Our "little sticks" can do us real harm if we think we can be presumptuous and think that our Lord doesn't mean what He says and say what He means. Be strong my brothers and sisters, He wants NOTHING MORE than to embrace you and call you His own in His kingdom. But there is a requirement. In Christ's love, Rob