And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks on the sabbath day.…
An Oriental legend tells us that, while Solomon was once on his way to visit the Queen of Sheba, he came to a valley in which dwelt a peculiar tribe of monkeys. Upon asking about their history, be was informed that they were the descendants of a colony of Jews, who settling in that region years before, had, by habitual neglect of the Sabbath, gradually degenerated to the condition of brutes. The story is, of course, a mere fable, but the moral is worth remembering. The ceremonial part of the Sabbath is done away, so that greater liberty is allowed to us than was given to the Jews. Works of necessity and mercy take precedence even of the regularly appointed duties of the day (Hosea 6:6). The moral part is, however, as strongly in force as ever. To have the mind exercised on spiritual subjects, and occupied in advancing the interests of our souls, is an imperative duty. To be guilty of a wilful profanation of the Lord's day is —
I. AN UNREASONABLE SIN. A young man, well off in the world, and an elderly man of business, were riding in a railway carriage together, between London and a country town, when the question of Sunday amusements came up. "I maintain that Sunday ought to be a general holiday," said the younger, in a tone which betokened assurance and presumption, "and the people ought not to be kept out of such places as the Zoological Gardens and the Crystal Palace grounds. I would have Sunday used for recreation." "Recreation!" answered the elder, gravely, "yes, that is the very word. The Sabbath is meant for recreation, and if people were recreated, they would want very little of the so-called recreation which they now make so much of." The conversation on that subject dropped.
II. A PRESUMPTUOUS SIN. The man who was so signally punished, for merely gathering a few sticks on the Sabbath, might have argued that he could only be charged with a very small breach of the Divine law, and that the bundle of faggots was really necessary for his comfort. Such flimsy excuses would be of no avail. His conduct was a decided act of rebellion against God, and he was, in fact, accusing Him with being a hard master, who did not deserve to be obeyed. Those who believe in taking God at His word, cannot doubt that any wilful neglect of His commandments is always followed, sooner or later, by loss! A thrifty merchant remarked to his physician, "Had it not been for the rest which I have enjoyed on the Lord's Day, I should long ago have been a maniac!" Many are the instances of those who have dug their own graves, because they had no Sundays.
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.