Life-Study of Numbersby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we will consider the ordinances in Numbers 15.
In the middle of all the turmoils, chapter fifteen is inserted. Why is there the need of such an insertion? According to the behavior of the children of Israel, it became clear that they did not care very much for God's interests. What they did was mostly for themselves. This situation brought in God's judgment and punishment. It is doubtful that at that time the children of Israel remembered all the instructions on how to be accepted by God. They could not be accepted by themselves or in themselves but in the One who replaced them, Christ. In the Old Testament typology, this Christ, our replacing One, has many aspects, which can be seen in the many different kinds of offerings. The main aspects are seen in the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering, which may be matched by some corresponding offerings, such as the meal offering of cakes and wafers and the drink offering.
Numbers 15 might have been inserted because the children of Israel did not care for God's interests. This chapter was a reminder to them that their situation was altogether displeasing to God. Probably they had forgotten to offer the offerings required by God to make propitiation for their errors, wrongdoings, and rebellion.
Let us consider again the situation of the children of Israel. First, those who were at the borders of their encampment, not at the center, murmured evil before God. Then the mixed multitude among them lusted before God. Both received their portion of God's judgment. After that, as a great surprise to Moses, his older sister and brother, who had always been with him at the center of God's move, rebelled. Thus, the situation and atmosphere among the children of Israel were very low, and the morale, along with all the positive things, was gone. Next, the spies were sent to spy out the land, and ten of these spies brought back an evil report. They also received the proper judgment from God. Therefore, before another rebellion arose (see chapter sixteen), God came in with Numbers 15 as an insertion. If the children of Israel had kept the ordinances in this chapter, they would have been rescued from further turmoil.
Two of the ordinances inserted here concerned the offerings and the breaking of the Sabbath. To present an offering to God indicates that we realize that we cannot do anything to please God. We offer Christ to God because we are unable to make God happy, to be well-pleasing to Him, and to be accepted by Him. By offering Christ to God we admit that, in ourselves and by ourselves, we cannot please Him or be acceptable to Him.
To keep the Sabbath is to acknowledge, recognize, and receive the fact that God has done everything for us. We do not need to do anything, and we cannot do anything, for ourselves. God has done everything, and we should simply acknowledge and accept what God has done for us and rest in it. This is to keep the Sabbath.
God created everything in six days. At the conclusion of His creation, He created man. When man came forth from God's creating hand, he did not need to do anything. He began immediately to enjoy what God had made for him, and he rested in it.
To break the Sabbath is to deny what God has done for us and to try to do everything for ourselves. This is a blasphemy to God. If we try in ourselves to do something to please God, our effort is a blasphemy to God because it is a denial of what God has done for us.
We should always have the consciousness that we are nothing and that we are not able to do anything. What we can do and should do is offer Christ to God as our replacement. Christ is the One in whom we trust.
We should also keep in mind that striving in ourselves and for ourselves means nothing and is actually blasphemy. We should simply accept God and what He has done for us. We should not be like the worldly people who deny God by all their self-endeavoring. They deny God by what they do. Even some atheists would say, "Who is God? I don't need God. I can do everything myself." This is to deny God and to blaspheme Him.
As we come to the ordinances in Numbers 15, I would remind you of the difference between ordinances and statutes. Statutes are regulations without judgment, whereas ordinances are regulations with judgment. For example, the regulation concerning the breaking of the Sabbath involves a judgment.
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