Exodus 22.4-6 and Numbers 15.33-35
Posted: 5 August 2012 in Exodus, Numbers

” If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double. If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution. If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.”

“And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.”

What struck me about the above is that, in the passage from Exodus, concerning offences against our fellow men, the offences attract penalties which are formulated, more or less, on the basis of an eye for an eye. In the second passage, however, an offence, which to us might seem a relatively minor transgression, attracts the death penalty.

The legislation in the Old Covenant is, of course, no longer directly applicable to us. But it is in our Bibles for a reason, and that reason is that we should be able to learn from something which was, after all, spoken by God. The obvious inference to be drawn from the severity of the penalty exacted upon the Sabbath breaker is that the least offence against God himself is (at least) as serious as the most serious offences against our fellow men.

Every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God is eternally and unchangably true, and anything spoken by God can only be abrogated by God. These passages ought to give us reason to contemplate the extent of our God’s everlasting majesty. Everything in the universe is for the glory of God, and nothing can be allowed to detract from his glory: That is the message to be drawn from the penalty exacted from the sabbath breaker, and that is our Creator’s perspective.

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