What do the Sacrifices from the “Old Testament” have to do with Today? (Numbers 28-29)

Most Christians, when asked what they know about the sacrificial system will respond in one of these ways:

“They were done away with by Jesus’ death.”

“They were a burden.”

“They only atoned (covered over) sin.”

And this is almost always done so with a dismissive tone as if the sacrificial system was something bad and God did good to get rid of it.  Would you be surprised to hear that none of the above statements (with a partial exception for the first) are true, and that such statements hide some wonderful truths that Christians would be well to pay attention to.

Let’s start with a fundamental difference between Christianities point of view about the “Law of God” and the Jewish point of view.  Christians look at a law such as “don’t eat blood” and say, “I have to obey that?!”  It is a burden that has to be followed.  The Jewish point of view (including Yeshua’s point of view) would say, after having an opportunity to eat meat with the blood still in it, but not doing so, “I got to worship God by not eating blood just now.”  I hope you can get a glimpse of how fundamental this difference is as it affects you entire view point of the “old Testament.”

So, back to the sacrificial system.  Looking at Numbers 28 to 29, there is a long list of sacrifices to be given and instructions on how (this is just one place in the “Law” where sacrifices are discussed).  Note a few things.

First, the vast majority of the sacrifices have nothing to do with sin.  Nothing. 

This is true for all sacrifices.  There are sacrifices of thanksgiving, praise, finishing vows, and ritual purity (which is not about sin).  There are some sacrifices for sin.  Most are for the community (such as all those in the Numbers 28-29 passage).  There are some for individuals (such as in Leviticus 6:4-6).  Many of the sacrifices for sin are for ‘unintentional’ sin.

There are no sacrifices (with very few exceptions) for deliberate sin!  Consider King David and his sin with Bathsheba.  There was no sacrifice for that!

God forgave sin when people repented (actively turned from the sin).  This is the same in the “Old Testament” as in the “New.”  Consider 1 John 1:9,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)

“But what about Jesus’ sacrifice?” you may ask.

Yeshua’s (Jesus’) sacrifice “takes away the sin of the world,” just as it is written of him.  That includes the sin that we don’t even know about, or we don’t even realize is sin (such as following age old traditions that are completely accepted within Christianity but not accepted by God).  But even with Yeshua’s (Jesus’) sacrifice, we need to repent when we sin.

Lastly there are a couple important lessons to learn from the sacrificial system.  Note that God required that the animals sacrificed be “without blemish.”  In other words, it was to be one of the best animals.  And He was very specific about how it was to be done.  No pagan practices were involved.

When we worship God, do we give our best?  How often do we buy something new for those in need instead of giving old stuff (which is good, but not worship as God sets forth).

If we can learn anything from the sacrificial system, it is this: Give our Best in all our worship of God, and worship Him as He wants.

[Note: ‘Worship’ here is not limited to singing, but in every facet of life where we can be obedient to Him, including in our helping others.]

  • Yosef

Forgiveness and Offense

The following was written in reply to a great post by the blogger “Tancy” titled, “You will be offended“.   Her post deals with a topic that has been twisted or ignored in the churches.  Here are my comments to her post.  Read her post to get the full picture.


Thanks Tancy for the timely words, as in our day, and in our churches, it has become vogue to ‘not forgive’, though this is behavior is buried behind other words. You make the comment, ” If you do not learn to forgive, … you won’t be eligible for God’s forgiveness either.” I know few Christians who would recognize your comment as Christ’s words immediately after he gave “the Lord’s prayer” (Mat. 6:9-15). They are words, however, that we need to remember at all times.

It seems that Yeshua’s (Jesus’) words are slipping away from the churches and our daily lives. Who remembers, and practices, Yeshua’s words where he states that we are to forgive (without exception) even up to “seventy times seven” times (and if you’re counting, you are missing the point). And what about the apostle Paul’s words where he exhorts us to bestow even greater honor, and treat with modesty, those that we deem ‘unpresentable’. (1 Cor. 12:22-24).

I like your comment, Tancy, of, “forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.” I’ve seen people’s live get eaten up and ruined simply because they were unwilling to let go of resentment and hurt.

Perhaps some of the problem is the teaching around ‘forgiveness’ that one finds today. It is an unfortunate fact of life that sin has consequences, even after one repents or is forgiven. Forgiveness does not mean an unconditional restoration of a relationship. One needs to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16). Some things take time to heal, but they will never heal as long as one does not ‘let go and forgive.’
When one finds oneself caught by unforgiveness, and can’t even bring oneself to forgive, one can start by asking God to help. But in the end, the step has to be taken, and the offender forgiven.

I’ll close with these words of Yeshua, “judge not, lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, you will be measured.”

So, keep proclaiming His word, even when it seems others aren’t. Thanks for your post.

  • Yosef

The Bronze Serpent – Numbers 21

This weeks reading includes Numbers 21, where we find the Israelites again complaining about food, water, and even the manna God continuously gives them!  God says, ‘enough is enough’ and gave them something to really complain about: serpents whose bite was fatal.

After Moses prayed, the LORD had Moses make a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole where anyone could look at it.  And anyone who was bitten, and didn’t want to die, could look at the serpent on the pole and be healed.

One of the surprising things about this story comes much, much later.  In fact, several hundred years (give or take) later.   Long after this event, when Israel has been in the land for a long time, and there are kings over Israel, we find King Hezekiah reigning, and we are told that ‘he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.’ (2 Kings 18:1-4).  One of the things King Hezekiah did was to destroy the serpent.  Yes, it was still there!  And over time, it had become an object of worship to the Israelites.  A blessing of God had been turned into a snare!  How could this have happened?  Yet we see the same sort of thing today in our churches and synagogues.

Over time, we take God’s silence about something as an indirect approval. 

God never told them not to keep the serpent after it had served its purpose, and no one, not a single leader prior, ever mentioned it.  After all, it was God ordained, wasn’t it?

In the same way, we take teachings and traditions that may or may not have made sense at the time of their authorship, and over time, incorporate them into our worship, even though God’s word may speak against such practices.  This practice is ripe throughout Christianity and Judaism.  Christianity takes away from God’s word as Judaism adds to it, yet we find God saying, “do not add to or take away from my Word”  (Deut. 4:2, echoed by Yeshua (Jesus) in Matt. 5:18-19).

In the same way, we can easily become insensitive to God’s blessing and even dislike it (the manna in the story).  This should not be!  That is why God tells us to remember His works.  Over and over He tells us (even in the “10 commandments” – Exo. 20:8-11 as one example).  That is why He gave us His calendar (see Lev. 23), which, unfortunately, Christianity has completely thrown out.  This led, among other things, to modern Christianity’s focus only on the here and now, and sometimes the future.

To sum up, we need to always be willing to judge our own actions, traditions, and teachings by the word of God, and to be willing to change when we see something that isn’t in line with His word, even if goes against a centuries old teaching or tradition!

That God hasn’t judged all that we do that is against His word, and often even done “in His name,” is a wonderful manifestation of His grace and forgiveness through Yeshua.  But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t follow His word.

  • Yosef

 

 

 

 

Knowledge vs Thankfulness

This is the first posting after the “official” launch of the blog, so I thought I’d keep it upbeat.

In our world we are inundated with all the woes of life and our society.  It is often so much that we simply want to retreat and block it all out.  But what should our response be?  God’s answer is for us to be thankful.   Take a look at Psalm 100 or 1 Chronicles 16 or 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which are a small sampling of the places we are encouraged to give thanks.

I often run into people who are down or overwhelmed.  Actually, it happens to me quite a bit.  I remind them (and myself) to remember the things God has done and thank Him for them.  Remembering God’s deeds is even in the “10 commandments” (see Deuteronomy 4:15).  By the way, did you know that the “10 commandments” are not called “commandments” in the Bible, and that they are listed in two places with some very seemingly minor, but important differences?  (See this posting, or the blog tag, “commandments”).

But what about knowledge?  The author of the blog “Help Me Believe” makes an interesting point about knowledge (see his posting about apologetics).  Knowledge is important and of great benefit.  But knowledge alone doesn’t bridge the gap to faith.  Consider the apostle Peter and the others when they were in the boat crossing the lake and a storm came up (see Mark chapter 6).  The disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) ‘knew’ about the recent miracle of the loaves and the fish but they didn’t remember about it or, apparently, give thanks about it.  If they had, perhaps more of them would have “stepped out of the boat!”).

This blog is about knowledge and faith.  The two go together.

To sum up, here is what Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”  (ESV – English Standard Version – emphasis mine).

  • Yosef

Salvation and the Gospel in Exodus

Exodus 6:6 to 7 states, “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgement.  I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”  (ESV Bible)

Salvation and redemption are God’s idea and have been around a long time.  The above verse shows the gospel (good news – God’s idea) in short form.

“I am the LORD.”  He is God, creator of all, and His name is Yehova (some say Yahweh).  If everything in your life and belief is not based on this then you have erred.

“bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” We are made in His image, no longer needing to simply serve this life to live, to feed, clothe, house and reproduce ourselves.  No longer need to serve others.  Now free to serve Him.

“deliver you from slavery”:  no longer need to be slaves to sin.  We can have control over our lives through what He has done.

“will redeem you”: He has chosen and selected His people.  He has done this, not we ourselves.

“I will be your God”: He will guide and keep His people.

To Christians, the above should appear as a short form what is taught in the gospels.   God declared what He will do long ago, and it has been done, first for the Jews, then also for the gentiles.  It is the same salvation, the same offer.

It didn’t stop there.  Immediately after this the “Law” was given.  In other words, after redemption comes obedience.  Did Yeshua (Jesus) say anything different?

Return to Him.

-Yosef


“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”