From Slaves to Soldiers

Chapter 15

Yahweh regulated what was given to him by his community. He continued his lessons for the new generation of Israel to get them ready to enter their homeland. Yahweh fixed the amount of the meal, oil, and wine offerings.

They were to give two quarts of fine flour mixed with a quart of oil with their Fire-Gift to Yahweh, a Whole-Burnt-Offering or any sacrifice from the herd or flock for a Vow-Offering or Freewill-Offering at one of the appointed feasts. They were to prepare a quart of oil and a quart of wine as a Drink-Offering with each lamb for the Whole-Burnt-Offering or other sacrifice. They were to give 4 quarts of fine flour mixed with 1 ¼ quarts of wine with their offering of a ram. They were to give 6 quarts of fine flour, 2 quarts of oil, and 2 quarts of wine with their fire gift of a young bull Whole Burnt Offering. Each animal was to be accompanied with the same grain and drink offering, no matter how many were offered. Israel’s gifts to Yahweh were an outward expression of their relationship with him. Israel relied on Yahweh for their survival

One way that Yahweh promoted interdependence in all living creatures was by building into our psyches a sense of mutuality and respect – give and take. Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. says, “. At its most fundamental level this is expressed in the attitude of ‘you scratch my back and I scratch yours.’ We take turns in coming to each other’s aid. I am willing to give you something, even sacrifice for you because I expect that when I need you, you will be there for me. … Giving is a social act that ties us together for our mutual benefit.[1]

Yahweh repeated with each instruction that it would be a pleasure for him to receive their offerings. We have heard many times that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but we must always remember that it is harder to receive graciously then it is to give. When we give, we have to let go of something that we consider our possession. When we receive a gift we have to let go of our pride and pride is harder to give up than any material possession. Yahweh has good reason for his dignity to be assaulted – to be too proud to accept gifts from his creation – but he graciously accepts gifts from us in spite of the fact that we get everything we have from him.

Yahweh told his people that when they got to the Promised Land to remember that these rules were for their descendants as well as for them and for the foreigner or visitor living at length among them. Civilized order is founded on the equality of all people before the law. All humans are the same before the God of the universe, Yahweh – the great I AM.

Yahweh told his people that when they got to the Promised Land and sat down to eat from the food they got from the country he had given them they were to give back a portion from the first batch of bread. They were to take some of the dough from their first batch and make a round loaf for an offering from the threshing floor. There’s a profound connection between food and intimacy. Yahweh wants an intimate relationship with his people and he wants his people to have an intimate relationship with each other.

Yahweh is omniscient so he would have known that Israel would stumble from the paths of righteousness even if experience with them hadn’t proven it. Therefore, he gave them instructions for recovery. If the congregation failed to obey without intending to but later became aware of their error, the whole congregation was to repent together. The congregation was to demonstrate their repentance by presenting a Whole burnt Offering along with its accompanying Grain and Drink offering  according to the rules they had been given. The priest was to accept the sacrifice and the people were to consider themselves forgiven.

If just one person sinned unintentionally he or she was to bring and absolution offering of a year old female goat and the priest was to atone for his or her sin so Yahweh wouldn’t hold him or her accountable.

Yahweh reminded his people again that the law was standard for all humans.

However, if someone sinned in a pompous, self-important, and arrogant manner – boasting haughtily about his or her sin – they were to be cut off from the chosen people. Whether he or she was native or foreigner, the person had despised Yahweh and violated his command and forfeited his or her right to the community of Yahweh. That person had to be kicked out of the community, ostracized, and left alone in his or her delinquency. The narrator gave an example of this in the account of the man who was caught gathering wood on the Sabbath. The people who caught him brought him to Moses and Aaron and they held him until they could be sure of what Yahweh wanted them to do.

The seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh – a day of rest, delight, and renewal. He set it apart when he ceased from the work of creation. Yahweh instructed the Israelites to show fundamental humanity and dignity to women, slaves, and strangers by giving them the same right to a day of rest as the free Israeli man on the seventh day. The Sabbath is a picture of the eternal rest we have in Yahweh through faith in the finished work of Yeshua. As the writer to the Hebrews said; there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of Yahweh.[2]

Keeping the Sabbath is the first spiritual priority[3]. The observance of the Sabbath was a special sign of the nation of Israel. Yahweh reminded them to keep his Sabbaths and told them again that he was Yahweh – their Yahweh. He was offering them a personal relationship with him. He told them to stay away from idols – things made of cast metal are worthless, meaningless, and pointless. Yahweh is life.

Yahweh started all of his instructions with a reminder to keep his Sabbath. He told Moses and Aaron to give the man who broke the Sabbath the death penalty. His death was to be the responsibility of the whole community. They were to take him outside the camp and hurl stones at him until he died. The community obeyed. The man had, as Calvin pointed out, not erred through oversight, but in gross contempt of the Law. It was by his death that the law of the Sabbath was authenticated so that it would be kept in the future.[4]

Yahweh told the people to make tassels on the corners of their garments and to mark each corner tassel with a blue thread. When they looked at these tassels they were to remember to keep all the commandments of Yahweh, and not get distracted by everything they felt or saw that seduced them into infidelities. The tassels were a signal remembrance and observance of all Yahweh’s commandments, to live a holy life to him. He reminded them again that he is the great I AM, their God who rescued them from the land of Egypt to be their personal God.

 

Summary of chapter 15

Yahweh gave his people directions with regard to the different offerings they should bring unto him when they lived in the Promised Land. He told them that these rules were to be applied to everyone born in the country as well as foreigners living among them. Yahweh repeated his instructions for the heave-offering of the first-fruits of the land. He repeated the laws concerning omissions through ignorance, and the sacrifices to be offered on such occasions for the generation who would be taking the Promised Land. He told his people that anyone who sinned presumptuously was to be cut off from Israel and gave them a demonstration of how serious he was about deliberate sin not being tolerated. Then Yahweh commanded the Israelites to make fringes to the borders of their garments to help them remember to keep the commandments. Yahweh wants communion with his people. As Johnathan Parnell says, “Communion refers to God’s communication and presentation of himself to us, together with our proper response to him with joy. We say “with joy” because it would not be communion if God revealed himself in total wrath and we were simply terrified. That would be true revelation and a proper response, but it would not be communion.

“Communion assumes that God comes to us in love and that we respond joyfully to the beauty of his perfections and the offer of his fellowship. He may sometimes come with a rod of discipline. But even in our tears, we can rejoice in the Father’s loving discipline[5]. Communion with God may lay us in ashes or make us leap. But it never destroys our joy. It is our joy[6].”

 

Prayer: Lord, I am so blessed that you, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is, want to be my friend and walk and talk with me in divine fellowship. Thank you for the rest that is eternal and the picture of that rest that you instituted so long ago. Thank you for reaching out to your corrupted creation of human beings to reveal yourself to us. Thank you for showing your human creatures how to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. Thank you for giving us a way to leave out mistakes behind and press on toward your high calling in Yeshua ha Mashiach. Thank you for demonstrating your eternal love and power in the person of your precious holy Son. I love you, my Lord, my Strength.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think Yahweh regulated the amount of flour, oil, and wine to be given with each animal?
  2. Feral kittens were dying from something that caused them to lose control over their hind legs. They pulled their legs around behind them for a while but even after getting plenty to eat they slowly died. I watched through a window as the healthy ones cuddled the sick kittens close while they were dying. They gave the dying the gift of their self. Why do you think they did that?
  3. What does food have to do with fellowship?
  4. Why is it harder to receive graciously than it is to give willingly?
  5. Why is it blessed to give?
  6. What do you think is the object of the Sabbath?
  7. Why did the man who broke the Sabbath deserve death? Why was it important for the whole congregation to give him the death penelity?

 

 

[1]https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/am-i-right/201311/giving-and-receiving-the-right-way

[2] Hebrews 4:9

[3] Exodus 20:8

[4] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-15.html

[5] Hebrews 12:6–11

[6] Psalm 43:3

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