Numbers 15 & Psalm 51

Numbers 15

    The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving you, and you offer to the LORD from the herd or from the flock a food offering or a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering or at your appointed feasts, to make a pleasing aroma to the LORD, then he who brings his offering shall offer to the LORD a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil; and you shall offer with the burnt offering, or for the sacrifice, a quarter of a hin of wine for the drink offering for each lamb. Or for a ram, you shall offer for a grain offering two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a third of a hin of oil. And for the drink offering you shall offer a third of a hin of wine, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. And when you offer a bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, to fulfill a vow or for peace offerings to the LORD, then one shall offer with the bull a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with half a hin of oil. And you shall offer for the drink offering half a hin of wine, as a food offering, a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

    “Thus it shall be done for each bull or ram, or for each lamb or young goat. As many as you offer, so shall you do with each one, as many as there are. Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD, he shall do as you do. For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.”

    The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land to which I bring you and when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall present a contribution to the LORD. Of the first of your dough you shall present a loaf as a contribution; like a contribution from the threshing floor, so shall you present it. Some of the first of your dough you shall give to the LORD as a contribution throughout your generations.

    “But if you sin unintentionally, and do not observe all these commandments that the LORD has spoken to Moses, all that the LORD has commanded you by Moses, from the day that the LORD gave commandment, and onward throughout your generations, then if it was done unintentionally without the knowledge of the congregation, all the congregation shall offer one bull from the herd for a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma to the LORD, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the rule, and one male goat for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the people of Israel, and they shall be forgiven, because it was a mistake, and they have brought their offering, a food offering to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD for their mistake. And all the congregation of the people of Israel shall be forgiven, and the stranger who sojourns among them, because the whole population was involved in the mistake.

    “If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the people of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them. But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”

    While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses.

    The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. 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 15 ESV)


Psalm 51

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

    Have mercy on me, O God,
        according to your steadfast love;
    according to your abundant mercy
        blot out my transgressions.
    Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
        and cleanse me from my sin!
    
    For I know my transgressions,
        and my sin is ever before me.
    Against you, you only, have I sinned
        and done what is evil in your sight,
    so that you may be justified in your words
        and blameless in your judgment.
    Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
        and in sin did my mother conceive me.
    Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
        and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
    
    Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
        wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    Let me hear joy and gladness;
        let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
    Hide your face from my sins,
        and blot out all my iniquities.
    Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and renew a right spirit within me.
    Cast me not away from your presence,
        and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
    Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
        and uphold me with a willing spirit.
    
    Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
        and sinners will return to you.
    Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
        O God of my salvation,
        and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
    O Lord, open my lips,
        and my mouth will declare your praise.
    For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
        you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
    The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
        a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
    
    Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
        build up the walls of Jerusalem;
    then will you delight in right sacrifices,
        in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
        then bulls will be offered on your altar.

(Psalm 51 ESV)


Something to Consider

Numbers 15: For the most part, wherever Israel found themselves camped for an extended period of time God gave them laws concerning their conduct and character as His own chosen people. Laws were given first at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20-Numbers 9), here at Kadesh (Numbers 15), and then again later on the plains of Moab (Numbers 28-36). 

The timing of these laws is no coincidence. God has just pronounced judgement upon His people and delayed their entrance into the Promised Land for another forty years. Also, a recent disobedient attempt to take the land has failed miserably, and so confidence had to be at an all time low. In giving these laws concerning “when they enter into the land”, God reaffirms His faithfulness to His promise that Israel is His chosen people, and they will in fact one day enter into the land that He has promised them.  

It's important for us to remember that God’s people do not determine God’s character. We are called to reflect His character, but He doesn’t need us to be faithful to prove His own faithfulness. God’s promises are based on His faithfulness, and God will always finish what He has started.