SIN AND OBEDIENCE
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.’”
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- 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.
Give thanks that the Holy Spirit shows us our sins and brings us to repentance.
God wanted Israel to be obedient to him, both corporately and individually. However, all could sin inadvertently – not consciously rejecting God’s word but, because of ignorance or inattention, doing what is displeasing to God. Much of the moral instruction in the New Testament involves pointing out to Gentile converts that behavior that was accepted in the society around them was displeasing to God. Today those coming to faith in societies that are pagan, or where the teaching of Scripture has been rejected, may discover that their communities call righteous what the Bible describes as sin. For Israel, there were prescribed sacrifices. For us, there is the application of the blood of Christ.
Then, what of deliberate sin? Our text has both a pattern of judgment and a worked example. The clear teaching is that for the Israelites there is no sacrifice for high-handed sin that is a rebellion against the word of God. The New Testament teaches us that the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all sin if we confess it.1 However, the book of Hebrews warns us of the dangers of deliberate sin,2 focusing particularly on the sin of rejecting the person of Jesus Christ and the salvation he brings. We need tender consciences that keep us from both deliberate and inadvertent sins.
For the Jews, God provides a physical reminder of keeping his commandments – blue tassels on four corners of a garment. Some modern Jews will put these tsitzit not only on the outer garment but also on an undergarment, so that there is both a public and a private commitment to keep God’s Laws.3 The purpose of it all is summed up in the last verses – that we might be consecrated to the Lord our God and Savior.
Pray that the Law of God may be written on our hearts so that we do not sin against him.
Thank you Lord Jesus; you died that I might live, your body was broken that I might be made whole. Hallelujah, what a Savior.
1 1 John 1:9 2 Heb 10:26–31 3 Jonathan Sacks, Covenant and Conversation, Maggid Books, 2017, p181–182
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