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#518 – A God-Centered Perspective (Numbers 15:32–35)

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“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.'”
(Numbers 15:32–35)

 

Whoa, what a story. This one is hard to comprehend, isn’t it? The man is caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath Day. He’s picking up sticks when he should not be picking up sticks, so they bring him before God. They don’t know what to do. They bring him before God, and God says, “He should be stoned for picking up sticks.”

This can seem really extreme to us, can’t it? It seems extreme to me, even hard to wrestle with and reconcile, but that’s just it. Our reaction to this story shows us what a small view of the holiness of God we have and what a small view of the sinfulness of man we have, meaning we think it’s not that big a deal, right? Picking up sticks. He shouldn’t have been picking up sticks, but it’s not worth stoning over. That’s because we have a very man centered perspective of sin, meaning we think, okay, if somebody does something they weren’t supposed to do to us or it goes against our word in this kind of way, we think, all right, yes, they shouldn’t have done that, but then we’re not going to say he should be stoned.

We have too small a view of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Father, help us by your grace to flee from sin and run to You.

This is where we realize that we need a very different perspective of sin. We don’t need to view sin in terms of how we would respond. We need to have a God centered perspective of sin, to see that one sin against an infinitely holy God is worthy of infinitely serious punishment.

Do we realize this? Think about Genesis 3. One sin, they ate a piece of fruit, one sin. What does Romans 5 say? That one sin brought condemnation to all men, all the effects of sin. Think about all the effects of sin in the world, from natural disasters, hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, disease, cancer.
Then think about moral disasters. Think about world wars. Think about trafficking. Think about all kinds of murder and other evils in the world, all of that, all of that together came from one sin, and you and I have committed thousands of sins. We have no idea the measure of the seriousness of our sin before a holy God.

So we are driven then to pray today, God, help us not treat sin lightly. Lord, help us not to go to today thinking, okay, I only sinned a couple of times. No God, keep us from any sin today. Please, please, please keep us from sin.
We know we’re not perfect. We struggle with sin in all kinds of ways, but God, we hate that. We don’t want to struggle with sin in all these different ways, so God help us. Give us victory. Help us to obey you today. Keep us from sin. Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil. This is how you’ve taught us to pray, Lord Jesus, so may it be so, and when we sin, help us to see the seriousness of it and repent or run from it, and to run to you, Jesus. We praise you. There’s no way anyone of us could stand before God, apart from Your blood covering over our sin, your death paying the price for us. Jesus, we need You. We exalt You. We praise You. We love You. We thank You. We glorify You as the sacrifice for our sin.

Thank You, thank You, thank You for paying the penalty we deserve by going to the cross for us. We cling to You. You are our hope. You are our only hope for forgiveness of sin and life, eternal life. It all depends on you and your death for us. We praise You, Jesus, for your love for us. We praise You and we pray. Help us then, to flee sin today, in every way. Helps to run from it, to hate it, to not toy with it, to not treat it as trivial, but to run from it, by Your grace and to live in humble, holy obedience to Your word. Oh God, may be so. Pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and president of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, and Counter Culture.
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