Numbers 15 is directed towards the new generation and in one sense, begins with three categories of offerings:
1. Freewill offerings (Numbers 15:1-16)
2. Firstfruit offerings (Numbers 15:17-21)
3. Sin offerings (Numbers 15:22-29)
Concerning the sin offerings, the Bible Knowledge commentary offers these words, “These were made in atonement for the failure to keep any of the Lord’s commandments unwittingly; that is, by unintentional neglect or omission.”
Eight times in Numbers 15:22-29 we have the words unintended, unintentional, or unintentionally. This gives us specifics on what to do if the congregation or an individual sinned unintentionally.
Technically, there was no offering for anyone who sinned presumptuously. Other translations use the words brazenly, defiantly, willfully, openly, deliberately – it’s one thing to stumble into sin (we all do) but it’s something different to go against God with eyes wide open – premeditated rebellion.
Numbers 15:30–31 (NKJV) “But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him.”
This was probably the case of the man who worked on the Sabbath Day, openly, defiantly, publicly. God would make an example of him, and the man was stoned to death.
Some might criticize or find fault in this type of punishment for a man who just up sticks, but the heart of the matter is not necessarily what he did to sin, but who he sinned against. God was the one who told him not to work on that day, but he chose to do so defiantly.
This doesn’t mean that forgiveness is not possible if we sin presumptuously, it simply means that we should never presume on God’s grace – we use it, but may we never abuse it. We should always appreciate and remember our Redeemer.
Numbers 15:41 (NKJV) “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.”
Numbers 16 is another one of those tragic chapters, when the people rebel against the Lord’s chosen leaders and in doing so, rebel against God. In Numbers 12 it was only Aaron and Miriam speaking against Moses, but here it began with one man, and then three, who incite 250 men of renown (Numbers 16:2), and eventually the entire congregation against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:19)
Korah was of the tribe of Levi who served as priests, but they were jealous of the positions the sons of Aaron had as the family of High Priests. We read in:
Numbers 16:3 (NKJV) “They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?’”
Korah spoke of equality. Yes, the entire congregation is holy, and we’re all equal, but we have different places, varying roles and responsibilities given to us by God – none more important than the other. The Levites should have been blessed that they were allowed to serve God in any way (we all should be) (Numbers 16:10).
The rebels blamed Moses for not leading them into the Promised-Land when in all reality, it wasn’t Moses’ fault! It was their lack of faith that brought about their failure to enter in, but it’s so much easier to blame others, to seek a scapegoat. On the contrary, if they would have allowed Moses to simply lead, they would have been basking in Milk and Honey by now.
God – once again – was ready to wipe Israel out. But Moses and Aaron fell on their faces and interceded. They knew that Korah was the one primarily responsible for all this, and they brought it before God. Sure enough, they were right; God warned the people to depart from the tents of the wicked and the earth opened up like pac-man, and swallowed Korah and his immediate household alive. Later fire fell from heaven and consumed the other two hundred and fifty who had joined in the rebellion.
The Jewish leaders realize they don’t have the authority to put Jesus to death, so they bring Jesus to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, who marveled at the way Jesus refused to defend himself; it didn’t take long for Pilate to realize that they had handed Jesus over because of envy (Mark 15:10).
It’s appalling that the people would choose a murderer, Barabbas, over Jesus, and it’s almost unbelievable how they were so easily compelled to cry out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” – that’s a cry for the murder of the Christ! The One who had loved them, taught them, healed them, fed them, and tirelessly cared for them the last 3 1/2 years.
Pontius Pilate eventually gave in to their demands and Jesus was condemned to be crucified, Pilate wanted to “gratify the crowd” (Mark 15:15). How foolish it is to cave in to pressure and make decisions that we know are wrong in order to please the people and DISplease God.
Jesus was clothed in purple, crowned in thorns, hailed and hit, scourged, struck, spat on, mocked and numbered with the transgressors…and there “they crucified Him.”
Crucifixion had been invented by the Phoenicians and mastered by the Romans for the maximum amount of pain, over the maximum amount of time. And there He hung, virtually naked, lifted up for all to see humiliated then, and yet, worthy to be worshipped now. Jesus said in:
John 12:32 (NKJV) “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
What a clear fulfillment of Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 – to which Jesus pointed the people with His cry in verse 34, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” It was then that our sins were placed on Him – and the Father turned His back on the Son, there was a separation between them for the first time in all eternity; He was forsaken, so that we’d NEVER, EVER, EVER be forsaken. (Hebrews 13:5)
When Jesus finished His work on the cross of Calvary, He cried out with a loud voice, what did He say? We read His words in:
John 19:30 (NKJV) “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
It is finished, literally, “Debt paid in Full.” At the cross of Calvary, He paid a debt He didn’t owe, because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay, the price of our punishment, the sum of separation for all our sins. Now, all we need to do is to believe and receive (John 1:12).
Jesus cried out loud, so all would hear, and then He breathed His last, He didn’t just suffer, He went all the way – He died for us, after which comes one of my favorite passages in all the Bible:
Mark 15:38 (NKJV) “Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
We’ve been reading about this veil in the Tabernacle that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Beyond the veil and into the pure presence of God only the High Priest could enter, and only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) with the blood of a fresh sacrifice. But now, God has torn the veil, from top to bottom. This means there is no longer any separation between believers and the Lord, we are all welcomed in to the Most Holy Place! We can even enter in with boldness before the very throne of God’s amazing grace (Hebrews 4:16).
Mark mentions Joseph of Arimathea and John includes Nicodemus as the men who mustered up the courage, motivated by love, to take Jesus’ body down for burial. They placed Him in a borrowed grave, but it would only be for the weekend.
The world says, “love yourself,” but Jesus loved His Father and the people created in His image. The world says, “defend yourself” but Jesus opened not His lips. The world says, “pamper yourself” but Jesus refused to numb the pain. The world says “serve yourself, show yourself, live for self, save yourself” but Jesus gave Himself, suffered, and died…that we might live, together, forever.
O the wonder of Calvary love!
This Psalm was written when the Ziphites revealed the location of David (it happened twice; 1 Samuel 23:19; 26:1) when Saul was hunting him down.
David sings and prays for God’s protection from Saul, his army, and even strangers who had come against him for no reason – David had done nothing wrong!
I’m inspired by the declarations of deliverance David makes; when others may have simply surrendered, given up, and lost all faith, David sings of the victory, how God would protect him and deal with his enemies:
“Behold God is my helper.” (Psalm 54:4)
“For He has delivered me out of all trouble…” (Psalm 54:7)
David sang as if it were already done. We can do the same!
Proverbs 11:5–6 (NKJV) “The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.”
In these two verses the righteous and wicked are contrasted side-by-side. The ultimate application is to do our utmost to be in right relationship with God. The righteous will experience direction and deliverance. The wicked will fall, lured by their own lust.
Consider the following illustration I read:
The consuming, self-destructive nature of sin is like the technique used by Eskimos to kill wolves. First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed in a block of frozen blood.
Next the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he realize that his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own blood. He just craves more and more until he drops dead in the snow.
We are consumed, the Bible warns, by our own lusts.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.