Scriptures

Numbers 15

Introduction

‘The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘After you enter the land I am giving you as a home and you present to the LORD food offerings from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the LORD—whether burnt offerings or sacrifices, for special vows or freewill offerings or festival offerings—then the person who brings an offering shall present to the LORD a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of olive oil. With each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice, prepare a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering. “‘With a ram prepare a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a third of a hin of olive oil, and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Offer it as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. “‘When you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, for a special vow or a fellowship offering to the LORD, bring with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with half a hin of olive oil, and also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering. This will be a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. Each bull or ram, each lamb or young goat, is to be prepared in this manner. Do this for each one, for as many as you prepare. “‘Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when they present a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. For the generations to come, whenever a foreigner or anyone else living among you presents a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, they must do exactly as you do. The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the LORD: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.’” The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land to which I am taking you and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to the LORD. Present a loaf from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor. Throughout the generations to come you are to give this offering to the LORD from the first of your ground meal.’ Numbers 15:1-21

Background

Before we get into the text, I think it’s important to understand what’s been happening up to this point, because this chapter begins with Israel leaving Mount Sinai. There’s very little information given here concerning Israel’s 38 years in the wilderness.

When Israel was in the wilderness, God continue to take care of their needs by feeding them quail and manna, and the ongoing miracle of their sandals and clothes not wearing out, Deuteronomy 8:2-6 / Deuteronomy 29:5-6.

It was during this time, they stopped circumcising they children, Joshua 5:2-8, and they didn’t celebrate the Passover, Joshua 5:10. However, they did observe the laws concerning the Sabbath, Numbers 15:32-36. God had punished them for forty years to humble them, so that they would fully trust God, Deuteronomy 8:2-3.

Supplementary Offerings

This chapter tells us that Israel were commanded to offer different kinds of offerings to Lord in order to please Him. The offerings were going to be a sweet smelling aroma, pleasing to the Lord. This is always the way God sees our offerings when they are made with the proper heart and attitude, Mark 7:1-9.

Israel were not only to enjoy the blessings which come from God but they must also recognise the God who is providing for them. The grain, with the drink offering of wine were meant to accompany the blood sacrifice and they speak of thanksgiving and joy, Exodus 29:40 / Leviticus 23:13.

The offering of the ram and bull, Leviticus 2:1-10, each needed progressively greater amounts of grain and wine to accompany them, because they were progressively bigger sacrifices.

Everyone who made a sacrifice had to bring it with the thanksgiving of grain and the joy of wine, Exodus 22:29 / Exodus 23:19. In other words, God didn’t want sacrifices given to Him grudgingly.

Offerings For Unintentional Sins

‘Now if you as a community unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the LORD gave Moses—any of the LORD’s commands to you through him, from the day the LORD gave them and continuing through the generations to come—and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering. The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have presented to the LORD for their wrong a food offering and a sin offering. The whole Israelite community and the foreigners residing among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong. “‘But if just one person sins unintentionally, that person must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. The priest is to make atonement before the LORD for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made, that person will be forgiven. One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner residing among you. “‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the LORD and must be cut off from the people of Israel. Because they have despised the LORD’s word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.’” Numbers 15:22-31

Here we read about offerings which were made for those who committed unintentional sins, Leviticus 4:13ff. These were sins which were committed out of ignorance but atonement could be made for such sins.

Unintentional sins needed a blood atonement, a bull had to be sacrificed with the nation as a whole being guilty, and a female goat had to be sacrificed when an individual was guilty.

We also read of sins which were done defiantly, that is, sins against the will of God. Anyone who committed this sin would be automatically cut off from the rest of Israel because they despised God’s Word.

The Sabbath-Breaker Put to Death

‘While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.’ Numbers 15:32-36

Here, Moses gives us an example of someone who gathered wood on the Sabbath. The penalty for breaking this Sabbath rule was death by stoning because they should have known what the law taught, but chose to ignore it, Exodus 31:14-15 / Exodus 35:2-3.

God commanded the death penalty so that everyone would fear Him. Israel had to learn that God’s laws were more important to obey, than anyone’s right to break His laws.

Tassels On Garments

‘The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’” Numbers 15:37-41

These tassels which Israel were to make were fringes on the borders of their clothing. They were put there so that they would remember the laws of God. The idea is, if they remember, they wouldn’t sin ignorantly against God.

The other reason for wearing these tassels was to prevent them from committing idolatry, the lusts of their own hearts and eyes.

Some commentators suggest that the colour blue was used because the ark of the covenant was covered with a blue cloth, blue curtains adorned the tabernacle, and blue was in the high priest’s garments.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘In our Lord’s time the Pharisees enlarged their fringes, Matthew 23:5, in order to obtain reputation for their piety. In later times however, the Jews have worn the fringed garment of a smaller size and as an underdress. Its use is still retained, especially at morning prayer in the Synagogue.’

Go To Numbers 16

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."

Romans 12:1

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