Book of Numbers Chapter Twenty-Eight Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Offerings to the Lord are an expression of faith in Him. When we give something to Him or in His Name, no matter how small, no matter that He doesn't need it, a recognition of His existance is implied, along with a dawning awareness that He is a rewarder of those who believe. That's what the Moses, Joshua, and Eleazar of these chapters found, a reality being revealed to us as well. Verses 1-2: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'Command the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be careful to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me, at their appointed time.’" The service, the direction chosen for your life will be specific for your need, leading you to the Lord. And note that the sacrifices of these chapters are like neon signs pointing to the then-future Messiah, announcing to the priests, Israel and to the world—Someone was coming, a Sacrifice, a Substitute who would impart His righteousness, making us acceptable in the sight of God. Our sincere offerings, given in faith, are like "food" to the Lord, carrying a "soothing aroma" to Him.
Verses 3-4: "You shall say to them, 'This is the offering by fire which you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs one year old without defect as a continual burnt offering every day. 4 You shall offer the one lamb in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight;"—Our perspective is extremely limited, far more than we know. God's Word has been criticized by some that it is written from a human perspective. Heaven is described as "up," the place of the dead is referred to as "down," and so on. And it's true—the Lord deliberately enters our perspective to help us understand. Parables are often verbal but they also touch our awareness visually and in many other ways. Perfect, innocent lambs were offered on a continuing basis, a message about the Messiah that should have been understood by Israel, but He was recognized initially by only a few, such as John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, who said that Jesus Christ is "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The humanity of Jesus was to be utterly destroyed, seen in the innocent lambs given as burnt offerings in these verses. The Innocent would die to redeem the guilty.
The Lord continued His words to Moses in Verses 5-6: "also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil. 6 It is a continual burnt offering which was ordained in Mount Sinai as a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the Lord." Various grains have been used as food staples around the world since the beginning of time and God knows humanity's need of them. Flour in these sacrifices is a parable, reaching ahead to Jesus, who is "the bread of life" (John 6:35,48). The "oil" pictures God's Holy Spirit, the One Jesus spoke of before He went away into death. He said: "If I depart, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7). Lambs, flour, oil, touch our senses in parables, revealing God and His intention for us, centering on the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who makes all that is good available to you and me.
Notice the Lord's precise instructions in Verses 7-10: "Then the drink offering with it shall be a fourth of a hin for each lamb, in the holy place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the Lord. 8 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight; as the grain offering of the morning and as its drink offering, you shall offer it, an offering by fire, a soothing aroma to the Lord. 9 Then on the sabbath day two male lambs one year old without defect, and two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and its drink offering: 10 This is the burnt offering of every sabbath in addition to the continual burnt offering and its drink offering." The word "Sabbath" meant "rest" or "desist," a stopping of everything in this world, placing our focus instead on our Creator and Lord. When Jesus later shouted in the Temple, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:48), we understand that He is what the grain offerings in Numbers and the "manna" of Exodus 15:16 are all about. The oil pointed to the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:2-6), and the wine pictured the blood of Jesus, shed for you and me. As Paul later said, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, it is not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16). He came, died for our sins and rose again, giving rest to the faithful, now and forever.
Verses 11-15: "Then at the beginning of each of your months you shall present a burnt offering to the Lord: two bulls and one ram, seven male lambs one year old without defect; 12 and three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, for each bull; and two-tenths of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, for the one ram; 13 and a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering for each lamb, for a burnt offering of a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the Lord. 14 Their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull and a third of a hin for the ram and a fourth of a hin for a lamb; this is the burnt offering of each month throughout the months of the year. 15 And one male goat for a sin offering to the Lord; it shall be offered with its drink offering in addition to the continual burnt offering." The "beginning of each of your months" was essentially a festival at the time of the new moon, mentioned previously and briefly in Numbers 10:10 and found in places like Isaiah 66:23. We are little creatures, so easily distracted by the things of this world, and the suggestion of these verses is that we are to surround ourselves with reminders of God's holiness and His love.
Verses 16-17: "Then on the fourteenth day of the first month shall be the Lord’s Passover. 17 On the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast, unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days." The fourteenth day of Nisan was the Passover, reminding the people of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, just as it should remind us of our deliverance from sin. It was not a feast, but instead a fast, ending in the sacred meal of the evening. Our fast, a giving up of depending on our own strength, ends in the Feast of the fifteenth day, as we receive the Lord through faith and begin to rely on Him. "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). "Leaven" represents pride which is manifested in "malice and wickedness." Faith gives us the "bread" of "sincerity and truth," as you become in Christ who you are meant to be. Faith is both an action and a process, eliminating "leaven" in your life through trust in the Lord.
Verses 18-25: "On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. 19 You shall present an offering by fire, a burnt offering to the Lord: two bulls and one ram and seven male lambs one year old, having them without defect 20 For their grain offering, you shall offer fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for a bull and two-tenths for the ram. 21 A tenth of an ephah you shall offer for each of the seven lambs; 22 and one male goat for a sin offering to make atonement for you. 23 You shall present these besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a continual burnt offering. 24 After this manner you shall present daily, for seven days, the food of the offering by fire, of a soothing aroma to the Lord; it shall be presented with its drink offering in addition to the continual burnt offering. 25 On the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work." Notice that the Passover begins and ends with rest. There is, however, an Offering, presented in varying ways through these verses: Bulls, rams, lambs, a goat, offered with flour and oil. If we could be saved through living good lives, an Offering would not be necessary and you would find us smiling because we are such nice people who kept the Law of God. But you know you and I know me, and each of us carries deep inside the terrible awareness that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). But blessedly, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Do you see it? HE IS our Sacrifice. While we did not care sufficiently about any of this, Jesus Christ became our Substitute, our Representative, the Bread of Life, our Savior—He died for us, giving those willing to trust in Him, His Holy Spirit.
That's what we see in Verses 26-31, a command to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, which takes place fifty days after the Passover: "Also on the day of the first fruits, when you present a new grain offering to the Lord in your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. 27 You shall offer a burnt offering for a soothing aroma to the Lord: two young bulls, one ram, seven male lambs one year old; 28 and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for each bull, two-tenths for the one ram, 29 a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30 also one male goat to make atonement for you. 31 Besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall present them with their drink offerings. They shall be without defect." Another Feast, again with rest on our part, along with the perfect sacrifice we need. In this feast, something extra is pictured, hinted at in the Old Testament, and revealed in the New. In Acts 2, we find the disciples of Jesus assembled together "with one accord" in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1). They had walked with Jesus, lost Him to a Roman execution, then were astonished to see, touch and listen to the Resurrected Jesus in Acts 1:4-9, and then "while they watched, He was taken up...out of their sight." To find Christ is an event and also a journey of discovery in which you and I will never be the same. And there is even more. He told them in Acts 1:5, "you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." The Lord keeps His Word, for as we see in Acts 2:4, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit."
Amazingly, the promise was not only to a mis-matched group of fishermen, tax collectors, and political zealots of that time, but as one of them, Simon Peter, shouted out on the Day of Pentecost when all this happened: "You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit... the promise is to YOU and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39). Do you feel drawn to trust in the Lord? To REALLY trust in Him? He is CALLING you. In these verses in Numbers, the "burnt offering" not only represents the Lord utterly giving His life for you, which He has done, but it also is about you giving your life to Him. We've all noticed that everybody dies anyway and what we've acquired in this life won't last. Your decision to place your faith in Christ Jesus WILL last, and as a bonus, you will be filled with God's Holy Spirit.
Dear Father, thank You for sending Jesus Christ, the "Offering" I need, now and forever. Jesus, my sins are on Your cross, in the tomb, gone from me. I am saved, I am free. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.