All the people took him outside the camp and stoned him to death. Why?
He was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day (Numbers 15:32-36.)
But let's be honest. Doesn't punishment seem a bit extreme? And why would God make the entire community carry out such a severe penalty? Of course the man had broken the Fourth Commandment.
But stoned to death by family and friends? For gathering wood?
We cannot know entirely why God was so severe. But His reasons must be important to impose such a strong sentence. And a partial answer has to be found in the Ten Commandments themselves.
STRENGTH FOR THE JOURNEY
They instruct us to worship and serve only God.
As a recovering "workaholic," this really challenges me. Is it really true that my work could become an idol? But I serve God! I'm doing His work!!
However, God's severe condemnation of Sabbath breakers remains. Is it possible for me to make the subtle shift from loving Him through serving to loving the serving itself? Taking time to make sure that, no matter how exciting, important, or rewarding service for Him becomes, He is honored first and foremost. "Doing it for Him" while not honoring Him as the highest love of my life. Can ministry activity itself become a disobedient distraction?
I think we both know the answer to that!
The cure is obedience to His Sabbath principle. Regularly withdrawing for deeper fellowship with Him. Giving Him the necessary time to know, prune, and grow us. Thus, the reason for His Fourth Commandment.
One day our work here will cease. He alone is eternal. So it's absolutely critical for us to pursue His primary purpose: Loving Him above all else. Keeping Sabbath with Him now will make it much more likely we will one day hear "well done" rather than "depart from me, I never knew you."