Numbers 13-15

Numbers 13-15…Exploring Canaan, the people rebel, and offerings for unintentional sins.

Numbers 13 describes the unbelief and complaining of the people about the land God was going to give them in Canaan. They thought more highly of their own wisdom rather than God’s. We do the same and make foolish decisions by believing our emotions rather than Divine revelation. We walk by sight not by faith far too often, and need to be reminded of the objective reality of the gospel. God’s word will keep us from doing that, so we should depend upon it for sustenance.

Moses made humble intercession for Israel in Numbers 14. He was a type of Christ, who prayed for those that hated him and used him. We show our hatred for Christ every time we rebel. And yet, He is patient and merciful, and continues to love us. He knew we would fail to love Him perfectly when He went to the cross, which makes His sacrifice all the more amazing.

We see just how deceptive sin is in Numbers 15. Offerings were made for unintentional sins. In the Psalms, David prayed to be cleansed from his secret faults, those of which he was not aware. Sins committed ignorantly, will be forgiven through Christ the great Sacrifice. When he offered himself up once for all upon the cross, He seemed to explain one part of the intention these offerings, in His prayer in Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Numbers 10-12

Numbers 10-12…The silver trumpets, fire/quail from the Lord, and Miriam/Aaron oppose Moses.

The silver trumpets in Numbers 10 typify the preached gospel. It sounds an alarm to sinners, calls them to repent, proclaims liberty to the captives and slaves of Satan, and collects the worshipers of God. It directs and encourages their heavenly journey, stirs them up to combat against the world and sin, encouraging them with the assurance of victory. It leads their attention to the sacrifice of Christ, and shows the Lord’s presence for their protection. It is also necessary that the gospel trumpet gives a distinct sound, because very few have been called to repent and believe. The sounding of the trumpet of the gospel is God’s ordinance, and demands the attention of all to whom it is sent.

God’s wrath burned against the people because of their complaining in Numbers 11. Complaining is a manifestation of unbelief, pride, and selfishness, with unbelief being at the very heart of it. We are all guilty of unbelief, and therefore need to repent. An habitual, lively faith, is needed for us to fight our three spiritual enemies; our nature, the world, and Satan.

The patience of Moses was tried in his own family, as well as by the people. Opposition from our family and closest friends is painful, but is to be expected in a fallen world. Moses dealt with this opposition by exercising humility. When we understand our relationship with God rightly, we’ll deal with others rightly. In other words, if we know we’ve been given far more than we deserve in Christ, we’ll be more likely to treat others mercifully.

Numbers 7-9

Numbers 7-9…Tabernacle dedication offerings, the lighting of the lamps, and the Passover.

It was a time of joy and rejoicing, but in the midst of their sacrifices, we find a sin-offering in Numbers 7. So it is for us, that even when we do good, we are conscious that there is sin (Romans 7:21), and there should be repentance. In all approaches to God we must by faith look to Christ as the Sin-offering.

Aaron himself lit the lamps in Numbers 8, representing his Divine Master. God’s word is a light shining in a dark place (2 Peter 1:19). The church is dark without it, just as the tabernacle, which had no window, would have been without the lamps. The work of pastors/elders is to light these lamps, by expounding and applying the word of God. Jesus Christ is the only Light of our dark, sinful world, and by his atonement, by his word and the Holy Spirit, he diffuses light around.

In Numbers 9, we see a very similar corporate gathering and time of consecration similar to our partaking of the Lord’s supper today. Instructions were given concerning those who were ceremonially unclean, when they were to eat the passover. Similar careful instructions are given in the New Testament. Those whose minds and consciences are persistent and unrepentant in sin, are unfit for communion with God, and cannot partake with comfort of the Lord’s supper, until they are cleansed by true repentance and faith (1 Corinthians 11:29).

Leviticus 16-18

Leviticus 16-18…The day of atonement and laws regarding purity.

Most of the procedures followed on the Day of Atonement were similar to those followed for the other offerings except that the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place as well (Leviticus 16:14). This was done lest the accumulated sin cause God to immediately punish the high priest and the people. Aaron and the later high priests also had to throw incense in the air (vv. 12–13) in front of them as they approached the ark of the covenant so as to keep them from being able to see the Lord; otherwise, they would have died (Ex. 33:12–23).

Besides the sacrifice of a bull on behalf of the priesthood, two goats were brought to the tabernacle/temple to deal with the sin of the entire nation (Lev. 16:6–10). One goat was killed and its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (vv. 15–19). This sacrifice on the Day of Atonement resulted in propitiation — the satisfaction of God’s wrath on a substitute in place of the people. The other goat, after hands were laid on it, was sent to Azazel in the wilderness and freed, probably meaning it was taken to a desolate mountain and killed (vv. 20–22). Here it is clear that expiation was accomplished. The sins of the people were taken away from Israel and away from the holy camp.

Leviticus 7-9

Leviticus 7-9…The peace offering, the consecration of Aaron and his sons, and the first offerings of Aaron for himself and the people.

The peace offering was the only sacrifice worshipers could eat. Only part of the animal was offered up, and the rest was left for the person bringing the offering and anyone else in the vicinity of the sanctuary to consume (Leviticus 7:11–18). Being at peace with God is a special occasion indeed and worthy of celebration with a great feast. For many Israelites, this may have been the only time they ever ate meat. Moreover, strict cleanliness laws had to be followed regarding the eating of the sacrifice (Leviticus 7:19–21). Though at peace with the worshiper, our Creator remained holy and could still not tolerate any impurity in His presence.

Leviticus 8 outlines the consecration of Aaron and his sons. This had been delayed until the tabernacle had been prepared, and the laws of the sacrifices given. Aaron and his sons were washed with water, to signify that they should purify themselves from all sin, and keep themselves pure. The anointing of Aaron was to typify the anointing of Christ with the Spirit.

The many sacrifices for the people in Leviticus 9, were all done away by the death of Christ. This passage, in light of Christ’s sacrifice, does teach us that our best services need washing in his blood. Also, our best sacrifices are not good enough, because they are tainted with sin. Let us be thankful that we have a Savior who perfectly believed, and submitted to His Father for our sake.

Leviticus 4-6

Leviticus 4-6…Sin offerings and guilt offerings.

The idea that sin brings pollution is thoroughly biblical, and the reality of this pollution was dealt with under the old covenant through the sin offering described in these chapters. “Sin offering” is a perfectly acceptable translation of the Hebrew term in Leviticus 4, but what the sin offering actually accomplished is better seen in the words purification offering. The sin offering purified the sanctuary; it removed the defilement of sin that occurred when the people broke the covenant.

Our holy God cannot be in the presence of those people and things that are unclean, and each time people sinned under the old covenant, they dirtied themselves. The burnt offering solved the problem of the Lord’s wrath, but it did not purify the one offering the sacrifice. There still needed to be expiation, or the removal of sin’s pollution, from the worshipers and the instruments of worship. The blood of the sin offering accomplished this cleansing. The tabernacle that became defiled because it was located in the midst of a sinful people was cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice, and the sinner was made clean and able to stand before God again (4:1–5:13).

Reading the Old Testament in light of the New is so important for the Christian. Christ’s ultimate, blood sacrifice permanently removed our sins forever. Leviticus shows us how our sin separates us from God, and His character is no different today than when this book was written. Apart from Christ, God’s wrath is awful. However, the joy we have if we’re in Christ is derived from both what we’re saved from (His wrath & Hell), and our reward (eternal life in perfect fellowship with God).

Exodus 32-34

Exodus 32-34…The golden calf, the glory of the Lord is revealed to Moses, and the new stone tablets are given.

Three observations about these chapters in Exodus:

1) Exodus 32 – It is possible to be sincere in our worship of God, and be wrong.

Aaron led the people in an act that they thought would please God. However, they worshiped an idol, and not God. This angered the Lord. We know from Ecclesiastes, that there is nothing new under the sun, and this kind of false worship, veiled in “religiosity” is popular today. Worship of the idols of health and wealth, which is simply an obsession over self, has become popular in our day. Using the name of Christ as a way to get something else is deplorable, but the greed we see in the prosperity teachers today shouldn’t surprise us. God clearly has a harsh judgement for them, seen in 2 Peter 2:2-3:

“Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”

Do not be deceived by false teachers. They are dangerous because their teaching seems right and true. Be careful not to follow teachers who use singular verses as theological pillars. The context of each verse in light of the passage, book, testament, and scripture as a whole needs to be understood to avoid false teaching.

2) Exodus 33 – God’s wrath is against false worship.

False worship, or the love of idols, is deplorable to the Lord. In Exodus 33, He refuses to go with the people to the land flowing with milk and honey. In 33:5 He says, “Tell the Israelites, “You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you.” This is another reason why false teachers are dangerous. You can be so deceived that your faith may not be authentic, particularly if it’s misdirected. God is the object of our worship, and by grace alone through repentance and faith in Christ alone are we saved.

3) Exodus 34 – The riddle of the Old Testament points to Christ.

If Genesis 3:15 was the proto-gospel, Exodus 34:6-7 could be called the riddle of the Old Testament. Moses asks to see God glory, and He reveals Himself, and says:

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

How can God do this? How can he forgive sin and still not leave the guilty unpunished? This is the great riddle, and the answer is Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life, fulfilling God’s law without blemish. This is the only way for God to love thousands, and preserve a people for Himself. Apart from Christ, God’s wrath is on those who are guilty. If we’re in Christ, the only way we’re not guilty is because He took on the punishment we deserve.

Exodus 29-31

Exodus 29-31…Sacrifices, ceremonies, burnt offerings, and the sabbath.

Aaron and his sons were to be set apart for the priest’s office, with ceremony and reverence. Our Lord Jesus is the great High Priest, called by God, anointed with the Spirit. He is called Messiah, the Christ. He is clothed with glory and beauty, perfectly holy, and consecrated through His sufferings (Hebrews 2:10). All believers are spiritual priests, called to offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5), washed in the blood of Christ. We also are clothed with the beauty of holiness, and have received the anointing (1 John 2:27). The Spirit of God is called the finger of God, (Luke 11:20; Matthew 12:28,) and by Him the holiness of Christ is applied to our souls. This signifies the admission of a sinner into the spiritual priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The law was written in tables of stone, to show how lasting it is. This also symbolizes the hardness of our hearts. It is easier to write something on a stone, than to write any thing good on our hardened natural hearts. Only God can write his law in our hearts, and give us desires in line with His. Only God could have perfectly obeyed His own law, and did so in Christ.