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Numbers 7

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Book of Numbers Chapter Seven
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham

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Gifts

The nation Israel with its multitude of people, was created by God out of one small family. This group contained persons of all sorts, but notable among them were those willing to have faith, to believe in the Lord. By the time of these verses, they had become a nation in the millions, chosen by God to reveal His intentions and purposes to the world. Yes these are real people just like everybody else, but Israel is also God's parable, showing us how He intends to deal with your nation, your family, your business, and with you as an individual. In this chapter we find the various tribes of Israel giving back a portion of what had been given to them by God for His purposes and their need.

Verses 1-5: "Now on the day that Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it with all its furnishings and the altar and all its utensils; he anointed them and consecrated them also. 2 Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of their fathers’ households, made an offering (they were the leaders of the tribes; they were the ones who were over the numbered men). 3 When they brought their offering before the Lord, six covered carts and twelve oxen, a cart for every two of the leaders and an ox for each one, then they presented them before the tabernacle. 4 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 5 'Accept these things from them, that they may be used in the service of the tent of meeting, and you shall give them to the Levites, to each man according to his service." These verses contain a synopsis of events that led up to the current moment. The tent of the Lord, the tabernacle was built, its contents were received and anointed for service; and offerings, sacrifices were given. When we as a race of beings chose our own way instead of trusting in the Lord, we essentially sacrificed our relationship with Him, and sacrifice is necessary to restore what was broken. In Hebrews 10:12 and in many other Scriptures, we find that Jesus "offered one sacrifice for sins forever"—Himself. Our part is to trust in Him and what He has done. And note that an important part of giving is accepting the offer. We are to PRAYERFULLY give and receive as the Lord leads.

Verses 6-11: "So Moses took the carts and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. 7 Two carts and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service, 8 and four carts and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 9 But he did not give any to the sons of Kohath because theirs was the service of the holy objects, which they carried on the shoulder. 10 The leaders offered the dedication offering for the altar when it was anointed, so the leaders offered their offering before the altar. 11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Let them present their offering, one leader each day, for the dedication of the altar.'" Notice in relation to all gifts to the Lord that He needs—nothing. Unlike us, He is complete. And yet He appoints people, imperfect men and women, children in His sight, to perform duties here on earth that He could do better Himself. Jesus sacrificed Himself utterly for us. We partake of communion as a remembrance that we are made complete by accepting Him and what He did. He performed the reality; we act out the parable, and He is pleased, He accepts with delight our participation in service to Him and what we do for His people. Our service for God is custom made for each one, as seen in the service performed by the descendants of Merari that differed from what was done by the descendants of Kohath. We may not do the same things, but we are one in service to Him.

Verses 12-17: "Now the one who presented his offering on the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah; 13 and his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 14 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 15 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 16 one male goat for a sin offering; 17 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab." Judah was a man who lived, died and his descendants became first a tribe and then finally a nation. Judah the man was not Israel's (Jacob's) first son; he was the fourth, and yet he was the son, the brother, who helped his brethren not kill their brother Joseph—instead young Joseph was sold into a slavery that God used for the development of the nation (Genesis 37:26-28). Our attempts to do the right thing may seem insufficient, but God takes our efforts and turns them into something better than we could ever imagine.

Verses 18-23: "On the second day Nethanel the son of Zuar, leader of Issachar, presented an offering; 19 he presented as his offering one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 20 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 21 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 22 one male goat for a sin offering; 23 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Nethanel the son of Zuar." Issachar was Jacob's (Israel's) ninth son, though he is second in this list of tribes. His tribe is once again listed ninth in the listing of "sealed" tribes in Revelation 7:4-8. We are all being drawn by the Lord to give in some manner or another. It might be all or part of our money, it might be giving our time, or sharing some skill that others do not have, but the parable of the nation Israel is clear: You, your nation, tribe, family, business, corporation, city or association; you are to be among those who GIVE.

Verses 24-29: "On the third day it was Eliab the son of Helon, leader of the sons of Zebulun; 25 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 26 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 27 one young bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 28 one male goat for a sin offering; 29 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Eliab the son of Helon." Zebulun, listed third here, was the tenth son of Jacob, his last son by Leah, and this tribe is listed tenth in Revelation 7:4-8. It's interesting that silver, gold, jewels, paper money and all that we value on this earth, are not needed by God. We are convinced that we need such things, and God receives our offerings simply because He "loves a cheerful giver" (1 Corinthians 9:7). We are like the child who gives his or her favorite toy. It may not be needed, but the giving child is a delight to God our Father.

Verses 30-35: "On the fourth day it was Elizur the son of Shedeur, leader of the sons of Reuben; 31 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 32 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 33 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 34 one male goat for a sin offering; 35 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Elizur the son of Shedeur." Reuben was Jacob and Leah's firstborn, but his tribe is listed fourth here. He is interestingly second in what might be considered the more permanent listing of Revelation 7:4-8. This tribe never rose to power in Israel and Reuben the man, like everybody else who has ever lived, did well in some contexts but poorly in others. He committed the terrible act of incest (Genesis 35:22), but also delivered Joseph from death at the hands of his brothers through his words (Genesis 37:19-22, 42:22).

Verses 36-41: "On the fifth day it was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, leader of the children of Simeon; 37 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 38 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 39 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 40 one male goat for a sin offering; 41 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai." Simeon was Jacob's second son (Genesis 29:33), but the tribe that sprang from him is fifth in this place. They are seventh in Revelation 7:4-8. Simeon and his brother, Levi, became notable when they slaughtered the males living in Shechem because of what was done to their sister, Dinah (Genesis 34:24-31). The word "cursed" was used in a prophesy about them, uttered through their father, Jacob, as recorded in Genesis 49:5-7, and note that Levi is not part of this listing in Numbers.

Verses 42-47: "On the sixth day it was Eliasaph the son of Deuel, leader of the sons of Gad; 43 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 44 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 45 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 46 one male goat for a sin offering; 47 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Eliasaph the son of Deuel." Gad was the seventh son of Jacob (Genesis 30:11) but is sixth here. The tribe is listed third in Revelation 7:4-8. The various animal offerings here, like the offerings of the other tribes, were parables presenting an image that the Son of God would come to earth and die for our sins. The grain offering pictures Jesus as the "bread of life" (John 6:48) who meets our every need. The oil is a representation of God's Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:2-6). Incense is a reminder that God hears our prayers and delights in them (Revelation 5:8).

Verses 48-53: "On the seventh day it was Elishama the son of Ammihud, leader of the sons of Ephraim; 49 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 50 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 51 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 52 one male goat for a sin offering; 53 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Elishama the son of Ammihud." Ephraim was the younger son of Joseph, son of Jacob, and Joseph's Egyptian wife, Asenath (Genesis 41:50-52). Joseph protested, but in his father's blessing and adoption of Joseph's two sons as his own, the aging Jacob gave the preferential blessing to Ephraim over his older brother, Manasseh (Genesis 49:22-26). Ephraim is seventh here, but he is missing, replaced in the listing of Revelation 7:4-8 by Joseph his father.

Verses 54-59: "On the eighth day it was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, leader of the sons of Manasseh; 55 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 56 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 57 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 58 one male goat for a sin offering; 59 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur." Manasseh was the older brother of Ephraim, and both were sons of Governor Joseph of Egypt and grandsons of Jacob, also known as Israel. Joseph was deprived of his inheritance in Israel because of the anger of his brothers, but later he was given two shares in the nation, one for each of his half-Egyptian sons (Genesis 48:5,19). Manasseh is eighth here in this list, but sixth in the listing of Revelation 7:4-8.

Verses 60-65: "On the ninth day it was Abidan the son of Gideoni, leader of the sons of Benjamin; 61 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 62 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 63 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 64 one male goat for a sin offering; 65 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Abidan the son of Gideoni." Benjamin is listed as the ninth tribe of Israel here, but he was the twelth and last son of Jacob, and the second son of his mother, Rachel, who died giving birth to him. His full brother was Joseph. When the nation Israel broke in two after the death of the future king Solomon, the tribe of Benjamin became part of the new nation called Judah to the south. Saul, the first king of Israel, was from the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9) and so was the apostle Saul, also known as Paul (Philippians 3:5). Benjamin appears in Revelation 7:4-8 as the twelth tribe of Israel.

Verses 66-71: "On the tenth day it was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, leader of the sons of Dan; 67 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 68 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 69 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 70 one male goat for a sin offering; 71 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai." Dan was the fifth son of Jacob and his mother was Bilhah, maid of Rachel, a birth that reflected the sibling rivalry of Leah and Rachel (Genesis 30:1-6). Samson was of the tribe of Dan (Judges 13:2, 24), and Dan is omitted altogether in the listing of Revelation 7:4-8.

Verses 72-77: "On the eleventh day it was Pagiel the son of Ochran, leader of the sons of Asher; 73 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 74 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 75 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 76 one male goat for a sin offering; 77 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Pagiel the son of Ochran." The tribe of Asher is listed eleventh here, but Asher was Jacob's eighth son, a child of Zilpah, Leah's maid; another birth that stemmed from the rivalry between Leah and Rachel (Genesis 30:9-13). Asher is the fourth tribe named in Revelation 7:4-8.

Verses 78-83: "On the twelfth day it was Ahira the son of Enan, leader of the sons of Naphtali; 79 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 80 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 81 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; 82 one male goat for a sin offering; 83 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Ahira the son of Enan." Naphtali was the twelfth tribe listed in this chapter and Jacob's sixth son, another child of Bilhah, Rachel's maid. The tribe of Naphtali is listed fifth in Revelation 7:4-8.

Verses 84-88: "This was the dedication offering for the altar from the leaders of Israel when it was anointed: twelve silver dishes, twelve silver bowls, twelve gold pans, 85 each silver dish weighing one hundred and thirty shekels and each bowl seventy; all the silver of the utensils was 2,400 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary; 86 the twelve gold pans, full of incense, weighing ten shekels apiece, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, all the gold of the pans 120 shekels; 87 all the oxen for the burnt offering twelve bulls, all the rams twelve, the male lambs one year old with their grain offering twelve, and the male goats for a sin offering twelve; 88 and all the oxen for the sacrifice of peace offerings 24 bulls, all the rams 60, the male goats 60, the male lambs one year old 60. This was the dedication offering for the altar after it was anointed." As to each tribal gift, it was the leader of the tribe who presented the gifts, which no doubt were transported by trusted tribal workers, but the gifts were actually from the people of each tribe. It's much like the president of one country presenting a gift to another national leader—it is actually from the people—leaders are actually servants who represent the wishes of the citizenry in a land.

Verse 89: "Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him." We hear these words occasionally: "God spoke to me" or "God said..." and we wonder, in what form did God speak? The "ark of the testimony," also called the "ark of the covenant," was a box, a chest located within the Tabernacle in the wilderness and later in the Jerusalem Temple. Inside it were items that included the Ten Commandments, Aaron's rod that budded, and a container of the wilderness manna (Deuteronomy 10:4-5, Numbers 17:10, Exodus 16:33-34). The ark was decorated with depictions of the cherubim located at the throne of God, and according to this verse, Moses heard the audible voice of God from between those cherubim. God speaks to us in infinite ways, which can be through His written Word, directly to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, through other people, and within the wonders of His creation. He is speaking to you right now, and He is gifting you for service in His Holy Name.

Lord, you have given to us so that we might become a people who give. Our time and everything we have and are—is yours. Please forgive me for neglecting Your holy calling. I surrender all. I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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