THE SERIOUSNESS OF SIN
Lord, to you I owe the gift of this day. By your Spirit, enable me to use it as I ought.
Read NUMBERS 15:22–41
Offerings for Unintentional Sins
22 “‘Now if you as a community unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the Lord gave Moses— 23 any of the Lord’s commands to you through him, from the day the Lord gave them and continuing through the generations to come— 24 and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering.[a] 25 The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have presented to the Lord for their wrong a food offering and a sin offering. 26 The whole Israelite community and the foreigners residing among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong.
27 “‘But if just one person sins unintentionally, that person must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest is to make atonement before the Lord for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made, that person will be forgiven. 29 One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner residing among you.
30 “‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the Lord and must be cut off from the people of Israel. 31 Because they have despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.’”
The Sabbath-Breaker Put to Death
32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Tassels on Garments
37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.’”
- Numbers 15:24 Or purification offering; also in verses 25 and 27
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectOf all the sin in your life, which is the area or one thing where you are most stubborn and refuse to stop? Maybe you’ve been warned or had opportunities to ask for help and ignored them?
How seriously do we really take sin? Do you agree that sometimes we focus too much on God’s forgiveness and minimize his command to live a holy life?
Here God teaches us about sin through two contrasts. The first is between community sin (vs 22–26) and individual sin (vs 27–29). We are perhaps more used to the latter – how about the former? It includes things like systemic racism, injustice, unconscious bias: they are hard to spot unless we experience them. Do you resist them, or perpetuate them (unwittingly or otherwise)? The second is between accidental sin (vs 22–29) and defiant sin (vs 30,31), part of which must be an unrepentant attitude. What do you think ‘despising’ the Lord’s word (v 31) might mean?
It is reassuring that God has realistic expectations! He knows our weakness, and graciously provides a way of forgiveness without minimizing the seriousness of sin. Read verse 28 again – for us ‘the priest’ is Jesus – and rejoice in how that verse ends.
What might be the equivalent of the Israelites’ tassels (vs 38,39) for you? What could you do, or wear, or have on the wall to remind you of God’s command and call to live a holy life?
Thank you Lord Jesus; you died that I might live, your body was broken that I might be made whole. Hallelujah, what a Savior.
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