Friday, 21 February 2014

(53) February 22: Numbers 7 & Mark 4:21-41

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider why these particular gifts are given.

To ponder:
Numbers is not entirely chronological. We now revert a month to the anointing and consecration of the tabernacle, when the tribal heads who would count the people a month later “made offerings.” It may be placed here so the book could begin stressing the amount of people being made ready to move. By following the priestly blessing with the dedication of the altar, the basis of God’s presence and blessing in the work of the tabernacle is also stressed.
            The gifts of six carts and twelve oxen to the Levites were for transporting the tabernacle. Nothing was given to the Kohathites because they were in charge of the “most holy” things, which therefore had to be carried on their shoulders. The other offerings were for “the dedication of the altar,” acknowledging the centrality of atonement for the people. The repetition for each tribe stresses all was done exactly as God commanded, and that everyone in Israel was to benefit from the priestly system. It also builds the drama, highlighting just how much had to be given.
Each tribe gave a silver plate, sprinkling bowl and gold dish, together with a grain offering (to support the priests), three animals as a burnt offering (reflecting devotion to God), one as a sin offering (for unintentional sin), and seventeen as a fellowship offering (implying peace with God). So much blood to dedicate the altar would have brought home the greatness of God’s holiness, and of his wrath at sin, which needed atonement. For those with eyes of faith, it also hinted that the blood of these animals could never truly deal with the sin of the two million Israelites. A more sufficient sacrifice was surely needed, from which every one of God’s people also needed to benefit.
            The highpoint that finishes the chapter is God speaking with Moses. This took place in the holy of holies, above the atonement cover which was on top of the ark containing the Ten Commandments, and from between the cherubim. This was the throne of the invisible God on earth, pointing to his heavenly throne, from which access is actually guarded by cherubim - as Eden was after the fall. In our day the wonder that God speaks is often trivialised. Just as it was the climax on Sinai, so it is here. And we hear him only because Christ has atoned for our sin. This reconciles us to God enabling the giving of his Spirit to open our minds and hearts to his word (Heb 12v22-25, Eph 1v13-22).

Praying it home:
Praise God that he speaks to us. Pray that we would appreciate hearing God in scripture as one of the key blessings Christ died for us to enjoy.

Thinking further:
None today.

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