Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church Pastor Louis Prontnicki
Numbers Sermon chapter 7 Nov. 11, 2012 “The Twelve Days of Offerings”
Consider this: What did you bring to give to the Lord today? Did it cost you much?
What do you expect to receive from the Lord today? Are you coming to Him ready to receive from His fullness, so that you are better equipped to worship Him and serve in His Kingdom?
And how do you see yourself this morning? A pew sitter? Or a consecrated, set-apart child of the King, ready to be His holy instrument?
“Whoa, pastor… I barely made it here today… that’s way above anything I was thinking.”
Fair enough… but be prepared to be stretched!
1. As receivers of the Lord’s richest blessings, each of us is called to offer ourselves generously to the worship of the Lord and the ministry of the gospel.
Let me make three observations and then three applications under this point:
A. These costly offerings were Israel’s response to the Lord’s richest blessings.
Having received the Lord’s blessings (6:22-27), The Lord’s people respond by bringing their offerings and their gifts to the Lord. They don’t give these offerings to buy God’s favor; they give because of all the blessings God has already given to them. “In response to God’s solemn promise to bless his people, they bring their blessing to him–magnificent gifts in twelve sequential days of celebrative pageantry.”
So… what was the purpose of these offerings?
B. These offerings made possible the consecrating and the furnishing of the tabernacle.
Some of them were going to be used immediately for certain offerings in the tabernacle, so that it could be properly consecrated/ anointed/ dedicated to the Lord
Some of those gifts were going to be used for the permanent ministry in the tabernacle.
The offerings were like “holy house-warming gifts” for the house of the Lord.
These gifts were to be used in the worship patterns of the temple service. The “silver plate” may have been used in association with the bread of the Presence. The sprinkling bowls were for the blood that would be sprinkled on the altar. The gold “dish” might have been used for incense, as this is the way it was presented to the Lord. Certainly these gifts were regarded as substantial, particularly coming from a people so recently slaves. They had despoiled the Egyptians (Ex 12:35-36) to enrich the worship of their God.
C. Each tribe’s contribution to the tabernacle was equally valuable.
vv. 10-11 The literal Hebrew reads “one leader for one day, one leader for one day.” The repetition shows the pacing that God required. Each leader’s gift was worth a day’s celebration. None of the gifts were to be grouped, none of the leaders bunched. Each leader, and the people he represented, was to have his day of approach with significant gifts to the presence of the Lord.
The gifts of each of the twelve were worth were the same:
one silver platter weighing about 1.5 kilograms Today’s value: $1,500
one silver sprinkling bowl weighing about 0.8 kilogram $800
one gold ladle weighing about 110 grams $6,000
the plate and bowl containing flour mixed with oil for a grain offering
the ladle filled with incense
one young bull, ($4k) one ram, and one male lamb for a burnt offering
one buck goat for a sin offering
two oxen, ($5k) five rams, five buck goats, and five male lambs for a fellowship offering.
Total worth of each tribe’s offerings in today’s value? Perhaps $20-30,000?
New Song: “On the twelve days of offerings, God’s people gave to Him…”
The repetition of the offerings by each tribe emphasizes that each tribe had an equal stake in the worship of God, and that each tribe was fully committed to the support of the tabernacle and the priesthood. While the tribes varied in number and playing key roles, yet each one’s giving was equally important.
A. Your offering of yourself to the Lord is your response to His rich grace in Christ (Rom. 12:1) Like the Israelites, you don’t give your offerings to buy God’s favor. Rather, you give to God because of the blessings God has already given to you (We love because He loved us first.)
Therefore, try to count your blessings before you come to worship.
B. Your offering of yourself makes possible the Lord’s worship and the gospel ministry.
What goes through your mind when you write a check to the church or give a generous gift to some gospel ministry? We need to step back and see the big picture. When God’s grace motivates us to give of our money and our time and our skills and of our very selves, we are not just keeping this church afloat so that we can pay our bills. Rather, the Lord is giving us the opportunity to be part of building His kingdom and allowing us and others to worship Him and to serve Him and make Him known, even to the ends of the earth!
Note v. 89: The climax of all this giving is Moses’ hearing the voice of the Lord speaking to him from the central shrine, amid the cherubim and over the atonement cover. Communion is established between the Lord and his prophet; the people have an advocate with the Lord. Worship and ministry, edification and missions are now made possible.
C. Each one of you has an equally valuable contribution to make for Christ’s Kingdom.
One of the points of each tribe in Israel contributing the same offerings was so that no one would be able to boast about their giving and no one would be embarrassed about their giving. The Lord wanted all of them to see that He had supplied all of their needs so that they were giving out of what God had given them, and each contribution was equally valuable. And so it should be with us today. As you give according to how God has prospered you, He receives each gift you give and use in the same way.
2. As the tabernacle was anointed for holy service, so Jesus was anointed for a special ministry; and we too, in Christ, are consecrated for service as God’s holy instruments.
The focus in the chapter is on the tabernacle, the “dwelling place of God,” and the altar, the point of approach to God’s dwelling. After Moses had completed supervising the construction and erection of the sacred tent and its altar, he now “anointed” and “consecrated” them for the Lord’s special services. “Anoint” is the same term used for the anointing of special persons. “Consecrate” means that those present recognize that the tabernacle and its furnishings and the altar and its implements are no longer common items but are now marked out as special, distinct, and other–set apart to the worship of God. All this points us both to Jesus and then to us:
A. Jesus was anointed for a special ministry:
Luke 2:23 “As it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord.’
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed…”
Acts 4:27 “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.”
Acts 10:38 “…How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
Christ/Messiah means the Anointed One, consecrated for a special ministry of redemption.
The lavish offerings in Num. 7, by 12 leaders of the 12 tribes over 12 days, may point us to the lavish giving of Jesus’ offering of Himself. They may point us to Rev. 21-22, where we read of 12 gates, 12 foundations, 12 tribes, 12 apostles, 12 angels, 12 pearls, and 12 crops of fruit!
B. We too, in Christ, are consecrated for service as God’s holy instruments:
2 Cor. 1:21-22 “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come”.
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Application: Do you see yourself this way? As an anointed, set-apart vessel for God’s use?
3. As the Israelites brought their offerings to the tabernacle, so Christ brings spiritual gifts to His Temple, to prepare us for works of service, so that we may be built up.
Turn to Eph. 4:7-8, 11-13 “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
v. 11 “It was he who gave”. The quotation from Ps 68 in Eph. 4:8 has its ultimate meaning when applied to Christ as the ascended Lord, who himself has given gifts to His people, who are His temple, where he dwells. The exalted Lord Jesus is the One who has endowed his church with gifts by grace, so that the church may indeed be His body in the world.
v. 12 “to prepare God’s people for works of service.” Jesus gives spiritual gifts to His people not so a few individuals can do all the work, but so that pastors and teachers could train the people to do the work themselves, so that the whole body of Christ may be built up. [This brings us full circle to the thought in Num. 7 that everyone contributed to the building up of the tabernacle!]
v. 13 The ultimate end in view is the attainment of completeness in Christ; being built up and mature in Christ.
Conclusion: “This chapter teaches us that sacrifice and ministry are essential to the life of God’s people. The cross of Calvary has replaced the bronze altar as the place of sacrifice (Heb. 9-10), but believers are still expected to respond to God’s grace by giving themselves to Him, and their money to His Gospel ministry (Rom. 12:1, 1 Cor. 9:3ff.)
Let’s return to my opening questions: “What did you bring to give to the Lord today? Did it cost you much? What do you expect to receive from the Lord today? Are you coming to Him ready to receive from His fullness, so that you are better equipped to worship Him and serve in His Kingdom? And how do you see yourself this morning? A pew sitter? Or a consecrated, set-apart child of the King, ready to be His holy instrument?”
Numbers 7 should change the way you think of yourself and how you come to worship and serve the Lord.