IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT

The Penalty for Sin

Date: Nov. 27, 2011

Author: Bob Henkins

Numbers 15:22-41

After the Israelites left Egypt and were wandering in the desert, the Lord gave them various commands. Among the commands were offerings to be made for sins that were committed. Numbers 15:22-41 deal with sins that were unintentional and those that were done on purpose defiantly.

The unintentional sins were dealt with individually and as a community. If the community did it as a whole, then the community was responsible and had to offer a bull and a goat to make atonement. And if a person sinned unintentionally they would have to offer a goat. Then the Lord would forgive them.

However if someone deliberately sins in defiant fashion then they would have to be cut off from God's people because they despised the Lord. Then one day a guy is found gathering firewood on the Sabbath, and everyone knows that you shouldn't work on the Sabbath. What were they going to do. So they brought this guy to Moses and Moses went to the Lord. God said the man must die. Then they had to take him to the outskirts of town and stone him to death.

When I first read this passage I was struck with the severity of the penalty just for gathering wood on Sunday. Was this really so serious that this guy had to die? was it such a crime that he wanted to stay warm or cook some food? When I thought about this, for me, it comes down to attitude. I don't think what this guys was doing was bad, but the problem was with his attitude. Basically he didn't care about God enough to listen to what he had to say. When, as a child, I lived with my parents, I had to obey my father's rules. I didn't always like them, or even sometimes think they were fair. But because I was living under his roof and dependent upon him for food and shelter, I had to obey him. Or if I didn't I had to pay the price. His house, he made the rules. I find that it's similar with the Lord. He made us, we live in the world he created, he makes the rules. we can choose to obey or not. That part is up to us. We have that freedom.

And I know for the most part, my father did what he thought was best for us kids. He had reasons why he set up the rules the way he did. However man is sinful and even our best falls short. Not so with God. He is almighty and Romans 8:28 tells us that our heavenly father works for the good of those who love him. So I believe that God gives us these commands because he loves us and he has good reasons for them. So we should follow the rules and live a happy and blessed life. Now we know that no one is perfect and we make mistakes, the offerings make atonement for when we make mistakes. The problem comes when we are defiant and we don't want to follow those rules. People like to wave their human freedoms in God's face. But  what happens if we don't follow the rules at work? We will get fired. What if we don't follow the rules while driving? We have to go to court? What if we don't follow the rules at school? We fail the class.

Our actions have consequences. We want action without consequences. But that is just not the case- anywhere. So for whatever the reason, this guy was out picking up sticks and ended up getting pummeled with stones. If he didn't know the rules, that would be a terrible. But that was not the case. Our heavenly father is a fair and just God. He loves us and works for the good of those who love him.

Sin is costly. And the law a tough task master. The only thing I can do is thank God for sending Jesus because he paid the price for our salvation. Because of him, we don't have to keep coming back and offering sacrifices for our sins (because you know they are continuous). I thank God that I don't have to worry if I sinned intentionally or unintentionally. I know that I have sinned, that is enough. I am guilty. I should be punished. But I praise God for his saving grace to pay the price for me. He is truly a wonderful and gracious loving God.

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