Numbers 15:1-21 -Sometimes You Just Have to Trust Your Coach…

Posted: September 10, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Numbers 15:1-21

Supplementary Offerings

When you play sports, there is more time spent on training that there is actual time spent playing the games for which all the practice is about. Take football for example. There are wind sprints. There stair climbs in the stadium. There are hill climbs. There is the dreaded six inches exercise. There are runs on the track. There are the stretching exercises. There is the weightlifting. There are the sled pulls. There the sled pushes. There are the react to the ball exercises. There are tip drills. There is the high stepping runs through the tires and the ropes. There’s the running backwards for 100 yards. There’s the twisting and turning. There’s the carrying of weights on your back for as long as you can. There’s the jumping over a dummy bag while starting from a lying prone on the ground position. There’s the running in place for what seems like forever and the whistle blows and you hit the ground. These are just some of the grueling exercises that you have to go through as a football player. To be honest, you looked forward to the scrimmage/game planning part of each day’s practice. At least that was fun and seemed to have a purpose. Those exercises at the beginning of each practice just seemed like the coaches’ way of torturing us. It all seemed insane to us. What did these exercises have to do with how we, the Travelers Rest High School Devildogs, were going to beat our weekly opponents during the football season? It just seemed all meaningless rituals that are meant to see who really wants to play football and who doesn’t. It just seemed like the coaches sat around and dreamed up ways to stretch, pull, and contort our bodies. They just seemed to sit around and think up new and different ways to see how long we could endure before we threw up our school lunches and whatever snacks we scarfed down before practice. This torture took up at least half of our daily practices before we broke up into to position groups and worked on game plans. You just hated all that stuff because it seemed to have no purpose or point, at least to us as football players.

 

It was those daily drills that we had to go through as football players that seemed so meaningless to us as football players that leapt into my mind as I sit here on a Saturday morning waiting for the college football games to start when I read through this passage, Numbers 15:1-21, today:

 

15 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘After you enter the land I am giving you as a home 3 and you present to the Lord food offerings from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the Lord—whether burnt offerings or sacrifices, for special vows or freewill offerings or festival offerings— 4 then the person who brings an offering shall present to the Lord a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah[a] of the finest flour mixed with a quarter of a hin[b] of olive oil. 5 With each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice, prepare a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

 

6 “‘With a ram prepare a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah[c] of the finest flour mixed with a third of a hin[d] of olive oil, 7 and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Offer it as an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

 

8 “‘When you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, for a special vow or a fellowship offering to the Lord, 9 bring with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah[e] of the finest flour mixed with half a hin[f] of olive oil, 10 and also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering. This will be a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 11 Each bull or ram, each lamb or young goat, is to be prepared in this manner. 12 Do this for each one, for as many as you prepare.

 

13 “‘Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when they present a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 14 For the generations to come, whenever a foreigner or anyone else living among you presents a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, they must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.’”

 

17 The Lord said to Moses, 18 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land to which I am taking you 19 and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to the Lord. 20 Present a loaf from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor. 21 Throughout the generations to come you are to give this offering to the Lord from the first of your ground meal.

 

Those football exercises for agility, strength, endurance and what have you are seem disjointed and unnecessary stuff that you have to go through as a football player. For me, sitting here in the 21st century after Jesus Christ roamed the earth, my first impression after reading through this passage was that all offering stuff just bores me to read. What does this have to do with salvation? What does this have to with having a relationship with Jesus Christ? What does this have to do with loving my neighbor as myself? And all this animal killing is just messy and what purpose does it serve? I had to purposely try to stay focused when I read through this passage and not go “Squirrel!” or “Bright Shiny Object!” in my mind when some other thought passed through. What does all this stuff mean for me now in the 21st century, post-Golgotha? It’s just like how I wondered how holding my legs straight out and six inches off the ground served any purpose to me as a football player.

 

What I think that we must take away from this passage is that there is grace. There is worship and there is obedience. As we all know, the Old Testament is training ground. It is pointers. It is directing us all toward Jesus Christ, the central figure for all that comes before, and all that comes after in the Bible. We are being pointed toward our once and final redemption. We are pointed to the final solution to our sin problem. Jesus Christ is what all this pointing toward. So, here in this passage we see grace (like we have in Jesus Christ). We see grace because there is a way made to reconcile us temporarily to God whereas Jesus is the far greater offering in that He is the permanent solution to sin. Here we see worship. Should we not offering up our best to the Lord? He is God and deserves our worship and we should give Him glory. We should worship Him. He should be the central focus of our lives. We should revolve our lives around giving Him worship. Here, we also see obedience. Maybe, even the Israelites did not fully understand why they were being required to do these things. Maybe they did. I don’t know. As they lived back then when this was written they may have understood the significance of the offerings better than I do, but that to me is not the point. I may not understand the ephahs and hins and such but I do understand obeying the Lord. We must obey the Lord’s commands on our lives. We must obey His Word and we must obey the direct commands that He gives each of us through the Holy Spirit. Being obedient to the Father in Heaven always works out better for us than disobedience. God has our best interest at heart always. We should know that by now. Yet, we often say to the Lord that what He requires of us is too hard. Shouldn’t we have the attitude that maybe the ageless, timeless, eternal Creator has maybe just a bit more wisdom than we do ourselves and that we should trust Him and obey Him? Sounds like pretty smart advice to me! So, here, to be a good Israelite and for us to be good Christians, we must learn to follow God’s instructions. He knows best. Why rebel against it? Just accept and trust and depend on the Creator of the universe, our God, the Mighty Eternal One!

 

Sometimes it is not for us to know why God is making us do certain things in certain ways. We must just trust that He has a sequence and a plan to it all. Just as the insane exercises that we had to do as football players was all done so that deep in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line that we had the strength, stamina and fortitude to rise up and make that defensive stand that needed to be made. It means when you are a cut and bruised safety who is operating on adrenaline in a game against your rival high school that you can have the energy to break up, tip the ball, and intercept it to preserve the victory for your team late in the fourth quarter. Your tired, sore, but all the preparation before the season and during the week gives you the knowledge that you have reserves in there somewhere and you call on them to jump higher than you have ever jumped before and stretch your arm the farthest that it has ever stretched to get you fingertips on the ball and tip it up in the air and as you are coming back down to the ground and life is in slow motion and you tip it again and get it into your hands and hold onto it as you get creamed by an offensive linemen. And you get up. Game assured. All that insane stuff was for the discipline and the stamina to play hard for 60 minutes in a game.

 

So it is with God. We don’t have to understand why always. We must just trust in Him as our Father in heaven and just say OK Lord, if you say so, I will do it.

 

Amen and Amen

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