Archive for category Offerings
When reading through the Old Testament about uncleanness it often reads like some kind of sin. But when you look closely at the reasons people were unclean, most if not all of the reasons are for common life situations, such as a woman having a baby, sexual behavior, getting sick, touching a dead body (family members were expected to prepare the body for burial). God is not saying these things are sinful or bad, but when they occur we shouldn’t involve everyone else in the situation. For example, it is a blessing for a woman to have a baby, but we don’t want to invite everyone in to witness the event, or to touch and hold the baby right away, there is an appropriate amount of time for mom and baby to be separate, even for the health of the baby. In fact most of the unclean issues have some health and wellness issues that correspond to these life events, such as bodily fluids, we know transmit disease, so it was God’s wisdom to teach Israel to avoid bodily fluids typically. Notice most of the purification rituals involve bathing along with the required offerings.
I’m always amazed by the constant sacrifices being made at the Tabernacle. The level of detail in all the sacrifices and offerings explains to me why a priest wouldn’t begin working in the Tabernacle until they were 25, it would take many years of training to remember how to correctly present the offerings to God.
I find it somewhat ironic that God told the priests not to slaughter a cow or sheep on the same day as its offspring. Is this for the animals sake or, more likely I think, God is teaching Israel something, my guess is compassion and empathy for the loss of life.
The benediction that Aaron was given in Numbers 6:22-27 is the same one I usually use in weddings.
I find it hard to read through all the laws about sacrifices and offerings, I’m guessing many of you feel the same.
However, what I do is look for little things that stand out to me. What struck me today as I read through the peace offerings and freewill offerings, was the fellowship between the person offering them, the priests and God. Each had their share of the offering, some would be offered on the altar for God some would be eaten by the priests and some would be eaten by the one making the offering.
I think if I was offering constant sacrifices at the Temple the thought of sin would be a constant as well. This is somewhat reflected in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans where he says if it were not for the law of Moses he would not know sin, but that the law was given to Moses that he might understand his sin. God’s goal for these sacrifices, I believe, was to teach all people how much we need saving from our sin. That’s why Jesus said He did not come to condemn, because we are condemned already, but to seek and save the lost.
The other response I can see from offering blood sacrifices constantly, is that I might have become callous to the suffering, I would like to think I wouldn’t, but the history of Israel says otherwise. They offered many sacrifices that God hated because of their hardened hearts. We sometimes forget that the law required confession and remorse when these sin sacrifices were made.
On the other hand, because blood sacrifices aren’t being made constantly around me, maybe I take to lightly the cost Jesus paid for my sins.
As I stated in the title, the laws in this category all help Israel honor God above all others and hope to prevent setting up false gods in place of our Creator.
The laws against false spiritualists remind Israel that there are no other gods other than the LORD. When anybody claims to receive any kind of knowledge from the spirit world other than the LORD Himself they are lying. They also tempt people into following false gods rather than the true and living God, who made the heavens and earth as well and gives us life. Also in this category we see one of the earliest prophecies of Jesus the Christ. In Deut 18:15-19, Moses tells Israel that another prophet will be raised up by God to speak the words of the LORD and Him you must listen to. Israel was also given a test for any prophet, if everything they said happens then they are from God, but if not they are not from God. This ought to help us understand when self-proclaimed fortune tellers or visionaries claim 98% accuracy, they are telling us they are false prophets.
The laws against blasphemy are there that we honor God with our words. Blasphemy doesn’t mean only cursing as in the example given, but are any words used to speak poorly of someone, in this case against God.
The laws of dedications and tithing reveal many details about what to do with certain tenth parts of their increase. However the most important part of these laws is to understand that the first fruits of man, animals and crops belong to God. This isn’t a new concept introduced with the law of Moses. Somehow Able knew this when he brought an offering to God and Abraham understood this as well. We don’t know exactly how they knew this or were instructed of this by God, but it does tell us this principle predated the law. A proverb also speaks to this concept saying that the first fruits belong to God. What we do with the first fruits and where we bring them may change but the principle seems to remain.
The law of the Sabbath is a reminder of God in creation and a command to not overwork, even though work is good, it is a reminder that there is something more important than work, God. The sabbath was to honor God and remember what he did for them. The Roman people in the time of Christ thought the Jews were lazy because they wouldn’t work 7 days a week. But, the law commanding the sabbath was not a law to make them lazy, but one to help them understand where their blessings really came from, not solely by their own effort but also by the grace of God.
This reading starts with God choosing the tribe of Levi to serve Aaron and his sons, the priests. God says that he took the Levites to replace the firstborn males of Israel, which God had already declared that the firstborn are God’s. The idea that the firstborn are God’s is brought into the New Testament in a number of places, I believe it is an image of the church that is redeemed by the blood of Christ.
I wonder why God chose Levi instead of the firstborn to be the ministers for the nation?
- Is it because Moses and Aaron were Levites?
- Is it because the Levites rallied to Moses for God’s sake in the golden calf incident? Of course, it was a Levite and priest (Aaron) who made the idol.
- Is it because the number of Levites is roughly the same as the number of firstborn? or because they were small enough to be supported by the offerings of Israel?
- Is it for all these reasons?
- Of course in the end the why isn’t as important as the what. God chose them to serve him.
Did you notice that the Levites could only work from age 25-50 in the Tabernacle? I assume that before age 25 they would be training in the service and after 50 they would be the teachers and trainers for others to serve. I’m guessing this was part of the work of assisting the workers, but it makes sense to me and I believe we see this as a pretty normal pattern for all kinds of work forces throughout the world.
The thing I find most interesting about the building of the tabernacle is the Spirit filled craftsman. God had such precise designs and building qualities in mind that normal talent and craftmenship apparently wasn’t enough. The artists and craftsmen were inspired by the Spirit of God to work with gold, silver, bronze, stone, wood. I find this rather uplifting in an age that seems to worship at the feet of everything tech (and those of you who know me, know, I love my tech gadgets too) that even the work done by hand in what is today often thought of as menial labor has value enough for God to inspire it.
I also noticed that a couple of men were skilled also at teaching others to do the work. This reminds me of Romans chapter 12, when it calls on those who have the gift of teaching use it for God to teach. It is a reminder that the talent to teach another is additional to the knowledge or skill to do something.
It is impressive that Israel had such a heart toward giving to build the Tabernacle that Moses had to send out a message to stop and restrain them from giving anymore. Boy, what a great example for us.