Sunday, 2 March 2014

(62) March 3: Numbers 28-29 & Mark 9:1-29

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

Read Numbers 28-29 & Mark 9:1-29

To discover:­­
As you read see if you can recall the significance of the different offerings and festivals.

To ponder:
This is no mindless repetition. These instructions were first given to Israel forty years previously (see comment on Ex 29:38-43, Lev 1-7, 23, Num 15). By reiterating them, the LORD reminds the people how necessary it is to make atonement and remember him if they are to endure his presence as they enter the land. Fulfilling his purpose the sacrifices keep them aware that he “is the LORD” (Ex 29v45-46), and offered him praise.
            A lamb is to be given as a burnt offering (reflecting devotion) every morning and evening with two more every Sabbath day, and two bulls, one ram and seven male lambs “on the first of every month,” with a male goat as a sin offering (for unintentional sin) too. The different animals may represent priests, leaders and everyday Israelites respectively (Lev 4). The monthly sacrifices were offered on every one of the seven days of unleavened bread (which began with the Passover). Held in March/April, this marked the beginning of the year with remembrance of Israel’s birth through the Exodus. The same were also offered seven weeks (50 days) later on the feast of weeks (Pentecost) that ended the grain harvest, remembering and thanking God for his provision of the land.
This endless repeating of so many offerings marking the passing of days, weeks, months, and years, all stressed how deep and persistent Israel’s sin was, how necessary atonement was for her continued enjoyment of God’s presence, and the fact that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10v4). By contrast Christ offers himself once “for all time” before sitting down at the right hand of God. So by his one sacrifice “he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy” (Heb 10v11-14).
The seventh month (September/October) was a key one. It began with the sounding of trumpets, summoning the people and calling on God to remember them (10:1-10). On the tenth day the High Priest would enter the holy of holies to deal with all Israel’s unintentional sin (Heb 9v7). The beginning and end of the feasts of unleavened bread and tabernacles, and the feast of weeks, and trumpets were all “sacred assemblies” when the people should refrain from work. In other words, they were to remember the LORD as on the Sabbath. But on the day of atonement they were to “deny” themselves too, suggesting repentance for sin, perhaps by fasting. On this day and the feast of trumpets the same monthly offerings were given, but with only one bull. Five days later the feast of tabernacles (booths or ingathering) takes place for seven days marking the absolute end of harvest, recalling and celebrating God’s provision. On day one thirteen bulls, two rams and fourteen lambs were offered, and the same each day but with the bulls reduced by one. On the eighth day the same offerings as the feast of trumpets and day of atonement were given. The sheer amount of sacrifices so soon after the day of atonement spoke of how abundantly God had blessed Israel despite her sin, and so provided what she was to offer back to him. They would have vividly heightened Israel’s awareness of God dwelling with her.
            Just as Pentecost and Tabernacles span the harvest, so they point to the church age from Pentecost to the final harvest, in which God is gathering in his people. Indeed, as with Israel, the end will be marked with a trumpet blast (1 Thess 4v16). Do we work as hard in our evangelism as the Israelites would have in harvesting their crops?

Praying it home:
Thank God for including you and the Christans you know in his harvest. Pray you would all be hard working in now being harvesters.

Thinking further:
None today.

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