Numbers 15: Reminders

God reminds the people of His expectations, but He also gives the people a way to remember His commandments.

Introduction

God instructs Moses to make celebratory offerings (burnt, freewill, etc.) as soon as they enter Canaan. These offerings were to include flour, oil, and wine in various quantities based upon the type of offering (of the herd/flock vs. a ram vs. bull). We see the common theme and emphasis put upon the offerings to God. During the post-Exodus but pre-Jesus era, God's people were constantly sacrificing animals to cleanse themselves. We commit too much sin for an animal to cover all our blemishes and too often to keep up with the sacrifices. This is why Jesus had to die for us.
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Uniform Laws

Yet again, God reminds the Israelites that they are to have one law for both the Israelites, as well as, strangers in the land. Presumably, the law applied to servants as well. God is telling us here that there were not to be exceptions. Just because you were from another land (say Egypt) and did not believe in God, did not mean you could work on the Sabbath in God's land. While it seems odd and overbearing in our overly tolerant society today, it makes perfect sense. God's law is not an easy law, it never was and it never will be. If believers saw non-believers engaging in easier lifestyles that were against God, it would bring about the temptation to join them. Similarly, if you have people killing and serving any type of animal, how could the Jews know if they have become unclean? Did you know that sometimes they use pork in cheese today?[1] Ramen noodles are made in a factory with shellfish (see the backside of the label) and thus even chicken flavored ramen may be unclean. This is what happens when people are following different laws; it becomes much more difficult to determine what you can and cannot eat.

God gives us hope that those sin unknowingly can be forgiven. During Moses' era this required a sacrifice, today, we call on the blood of Jesus. However, when you sin knowingly, it is a different story. God says that those people were to be cut off from Israel. Purposefully disobeying God is the ultimate disrespect—it's like a slap in the face. When you sin knowingly, you say, "I know God doesn't want me to do this, but I don't care; I'm going to do it anyway." An example, before I learned that cheese could have pork in it, I didn't worry about what type of cheese I bought or ate. When I realized that I probably have been consuming pork unknowingly, I asked God for forgiveness and I know He forgave me. However, now that I know cheese is not necessarily vegetarian, I have to check before I eat it; I don't continue to just eat cheese on the assumption it is vegetarian because I know that it's possible it is not. (If you're confused about why I care that pork may be in my cheese, please see my post of the Christian diet). Now, I am responsible for what I know, and it is my duty to act such that I am in accordance with God's wishes.
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Failure to Uphold the Sabbath

The Israelites find a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath, so they take him to Moses and Aaron for judgment. We are not told why he is collecting sticks, possibly to build a fire, but it is confirmed that this was unacceptable Sabbath behavior. God condemns the man to death by stoning. This is a strong reminder of the importance of the Sabbath. Not only is the Sabbath one of the 10 commandment, it began in the garden of Eden while the world was still perfect. We do many things today that do not seem like work because we've always done them, or it's an easy task, but that doesn't mean God approved of them on the Sabbath. In the New Testament, Jesus shows us how to determine if something is acceptable for the Sabbath. If it is an emergency or pertaining to God, Jesus says it's ok. I would imagine if you woke up on the Sabbath to find the temperature had dropped below freezing and were forced to gather sticks for a fire because you didn't have heat, Jesus would be ok with that as it is an emergency. However, if you just wake up and decide you want to collect sticks because you don't like how they look in your yard, He may not be so happy about your behavior. I discuss the Sabbath in more detail in the post Keep the Sabbath Holy.
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Fringe

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Laura Morariu
I once heard someone say that blue represented the law of God. The were pointing out that many churches neglect the color blue in their decor (red is probably the most common color seen inside the church), and referencing the fact that blue was supposed to remind us of the law. I couldn't figure out how they came to that conclusion at the time, but after rereading Numbers 15, I figured out their logic.

In this chapter, God instructs the Israelites to put fringe around their garments and place a blue ribbon on the fringe. This was meant to remind them of the commandments. Orthodox Jews still carry on this tradition.[2] Blue is one of the colors featured in the adornments of the tabernacle as well.

Interestingly, blue is also the most popular (or most often cited as a favorite) color around the world.[3] Are we drawn to blue because subconsciously we know that God's commands are best for us, or did God choose blue because He knew we would be drawn to it?
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References

  1. "U.S. Products Made Without Pork (Porcine) Enzymes". Frito Lay. 2016
  2. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 259. 2014
  3. Jordan, William. "Why is blue the world's favorite color?". You Gov. May 2015

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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