Numbers 28 – Sacrifices for Appointed Days and Feasts
A. Offerings related to appointed days.
1. (1-2) Introduction – the appointed offerings.
Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘My offering, My food for My offerings made by fire as a sweet aroma to Me, you shall be careful to offer to Me at their appointed time.’
a. My offering, My food for My offerings: The sacrifices God told Israel to make belonged to Him. They were to be made according to His command, and not improvised.
i. Throughout these chapters, the sheer number of animals, grain, oil, and wine needed to fulfill what God commanded is impressive. All these sacrifices assume that Israel is not only in Canaan, but that they are blessed in the land – they have the agricultural prosperity to provide such offerings.
ii. Meyer on My food: “We often speak of ourselves as hungering for God. Do we sufficiently realize that He hungers for our love, our whole-hearted devotion, our fellowship with Him?…. If we really loved Jesus, we should be eager to give Him food in our prayers, and yearnings, and activities; and we should long with intense desire for Him to be satisfied.”
b. You shall be careful to offer to Me at their appointed time: The following two chapters concern details of the sacrificial system God instituted as part of the covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai. These sacrificial offerings include:
· The morning and evening offerings.
· The Sabbath offering.
· The monthly offering.
· Offerings at Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
· Offerings at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost).
· Offerings at the Feast of Trumpets.
· Offerings on the Day of Atonement.
· Offerings at the Feast of Tabernacles.
i. These feasts or occasions were previously commanded, but there was little detail given on what specific offerings should be made in honor of these daily, weekly, monthly, and annual occasions. Israel needed God at special times of the year, at the start of every month, the end of every week, and multiple times a day – and these offerings were an expression of this.
ii. “So offerings pile on offerings, sometimes overlapping in what seems to us today to be a bewildering, benumbing collage. But these offerings were the perpetual reminders of who the people were, who their God is, and the enormity of their need to respond to him in overwhelming gratitude.” (Allen)
iii. As will be seen in the number of required sacrifices, it was a lot of work to be a priest and to fulfill God’s commanded offerings. Every day, every week, every month, and many times a year required special sacrifices – beyond what any individual in Israel might bring to God’s altar. The work of slicing and bleeding and cutting and dismembering and cleaning and presenting and burning was a lot to do. No wonder the priesthood of Jesus is remarkable in that He sat down, His work finished (Hebrews 10:11-12).
2. (3-8) The morning offering and evening offering.
“And you shall say to them, ‘This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to the LORD: two male lambs in their first year without blemish, day by day, as a regular burnt offering. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, the other lamb you shall offer in the evening, and one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a grain offering mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil. It is a regular burnt offering which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD. And its drink offering shall be one-fourth of a hin for each lamb; in a holy place you shall pour out the drink to the LORD as an offering. The other lamb you shall offer in the evening; as the morning grain offering and its drink offering, you shall offer it as an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.
a. Day by day, as a regular burnt offering: Israel was commanded to bring a male lamb to the LORD every morning and every evening. Each day began and ended with this statement of the need for atonement by sacrifice and expression of surrender and devotion to the LORD.
i. Cole lists five aspects of theological significance in the burnt offering: “(1) a total burnt offering is a method by which the physical sacrifice is rendered fully to the Lord, the visible is rendered into the world of the invisible, and the smoke enters symbolically the nostrils of God with a sweet aroma such that he is pleased; (2) the animal must be perfect and unblemished because God requires nothing short of absolute purity; (3) nothing is returned to the offerer, signifying God’s complete ownership; (4) offerings are made publicly as expressions of faith and obedience by those who must be ritually pure before presentation of the object; and (5) blood, the symbol of life of the sacrifice, was poured out on the altar as a means of returning life to the giver of all life.”
b. Fine flour as a grain offering…pressed oil…. And its drink offering: Together with the lambs for the morning and evening sacrifice, Israel was also commanded to bring these additional offerings. This was to happen every morning and every evening.
i. In these chapters grain, oil, and sometimes drink offerings were commanded for the days and festivals. “The flour is as important as the animal; the wine is as significant as the oil. The sacrifices will not be appropriate if any element is not acceptable or if any element is not in the right proportion.” (Allen)
c. You shall offer in the morning…you shall offer in the evening: For God’s people, it is appropriate to begin and end our day with a statement of trust in God’s atonement and expression of our devotion to Him.
i. The psalmist set the example as he sought the LORD in the morning:
· My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. (Psalm 5:3)
· But to You I have cried out, O LORD, and in the morning my prayer comes before You. (Psalm 88:13)
ii. The psalmist set the example as he sought the LORD in the evening:
· When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. (Psalm 63:6)
· Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)
iii. The psalmist set the example as he sought the LORD all the time:
· Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17)
iv. Jesus is the example, the Lamb of God who died at the time of the evening sacrifice.
3. (9-10) The Sabbath offering.
‘And on the Sabbath day two lambs in their first year, without blemish, and two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour as a grain offering, mixed with oil, with its drink offering—this is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, besides the regular burnt offering with its drink offering.
a. And on the Sabbath day two lambs: Every Sabbath day, a lamb was sacrificed in the morning and in the evening.
b. Besides the regular burnt offering with its drink offering: The Sabbath offering was in addition to the daily morning and evening offerings.
4. (11-15) The monthly, new moon offering.
‘At the beginnings of your months you shall present a burnt offering to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year, without blemish; three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour as a grain offering, mixed with oil, for each bull; two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour as a grain offering, mixed with oil, for the one ram; and one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with oil, as a grain offering for each lamb, as a burnt offering of sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD. Their drink offering shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, one-third of a hin for a ram, and one-fourth of a hin for a lamb; this is the burnt offering for each month throughout the months of the year. Also one kid of the goats as a sin offering to the LORD shall be offered, besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.
a. At the beginnings of your months you shall present a burnt offering to the LORD: Israel marked months by the cycle of the moon. At the start of each month, there was an extensive burnt offering, indicating dedication to the LORD.
i. The new moon sacrifice “was an opportunity for family worship (1 Samuel 20:5-6; 2 Kings 4:23) and all trading ceased (Amos 8:5). Like the other Old Testament festivals it prefigured the new age inaugurated by Christ (Colossians 2:16-17; cf. Isaiah 66:23).” (Wenham)
ii. 1 Samuel 20:5-6 also gives an example of how this offering might become part of a monthly feast for the leaders of the nation.
iii. “From other passages it would appear that the trumpets were used on the occasion of every new moon; and there must have been a longer and more elaborate service of festival music to distinguish the seventh.” (Watson)
b. Two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs: These significant offerings were accompanied by a grain offering and a drink offering. This was a significant ceremony marking the start of each month. In addition, there was one kid of the goats sacrificed as a sin offering.
i. The one kid of the goats was to be offered to the LORD, “not unto the moon, to which the Gentiles offered it.” (Poole)
ii. “Later in Israel’s history, the New Moon festivals may have become opportunities for excess, for licentious behavior. In the Prophets there are times when God says to his erring people, ‘I hate your New Moons’ (cf. Isaiah 1:14).” (Allen)
iii. Isaiah 1:14 shows how these festivals became corrupted: Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. Our observance of the things God commands can turn into empty rituals that weary God instead of honoring Him.
c. Throughout the months of the year: There was a progression in the number of sacrifices required – from the day to the week to the month. This was especially true when considering that no required sacrifice canceled out a previous one. Every Sabbath, the daily sacrifice was to be offered. If a new moon began a month on a Sabbath, then on that day all three sacrifices (daily, weekly, monthly) were required.
i. This was a dramatic declaration of the principle that as time goes on, our need becomes greater, not less. Our need to receive and respond to God’s sacrificial system becomes greater and not less. Our need to surrender completely to the LORD through His appointed sacrifice becomes greater, not less.
ii. “Not only must the worshippers bring gifts – they must bring gifts which were ordained, and in which the necessity for expiation of sin was perpetually recognized. A glance over the whole ground again will show how an increase in the number of sacrifices, and a growing importance in the religious rites, is marked in the growth of time divisions.” (Morgan)
B. Offerings related to seasonal feasts.
1. (16-25) Offerings at Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
‘On the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the LORD. And on the fifteenth day of this month is the feast; unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. And you shall present an offering made by fire as a burnt offering to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. Be sure they are without blemish. Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah you shall offer for a bull, and two-tenths for a ram; you shall offer one-tenth of an ephah for each of the seven lambs; also one goat as a sin offering, to make atonement for you. You shall offer these besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a regular burnt offering. In this manner you shall offer the food of the offering made by fire daily for seven days, as a sweet aroma to the LORD; it shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. And on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work.
a. On the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the LORD: On Passover, each household in Israel was to offer a lamb and eat it together in a meal remembering their deliverance from Egypt.
i. “The Passover, the first great feast, a sacrament rather, is merely mentioned in this portion of Numbers. It was chiefly a domestic celebration–not priestly–and had a most impressive significance, of which the eating of the lamb with bitter herbs was the symbol.” (Watson)
b. On the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: The day after Passover began the feast of unleavened bread. For seven days, they were to eat nothing that was made with yeast.
i. “The dual commemoration of Passover and Unleavened Bread reflect the dual aspects of the annual fetes, God’s paramount salvation event in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and his sustaining blessing in the spring barley harvest.” (Cole)
c. Two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs: These were to be offered as a burnt offering at God’s altar at the tabernacle, together with a grain offering and one goat as a sin offering each day through the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This was all in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.
d. You shall have a holy convocation: These days were marked by a sacred gathering of the people of Israel, and during those days they were to do no customary work.
2. (26-31) Offerings at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost).
‘Also on the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new grain offering to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. You shall present a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year, with their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for each bull, two-tenths for the one ram, and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs; also one kid of the goats, to make atonement for you. Be sure they are without blemish. You shall present them with their drink offerings, besides the regular burnt offering with its grain offering.
a. You shall have a holy convocation: The Feast of Weeks (also known as Pentecost) was also a sacred gathering time for Israel, when they would do no customary work.
i. “The Feast of Weeks, also called the day of firstfruits of the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22)…. The highlight of the festival was the priest’s waving of the two bread loaves of new grain and the two lambs of the fellowship offering (Leviticus 23:15-21).” (Cole)
b. Two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs: The Feast of Weeks had a grain offering associated with it, in thankfulness for the harvest. In addition to that offering, these animals were presented as a burnt offering, together with a grain offering specifically divided for each sacrifice. Besides all that, they must also offer one kid of the goats, to make atonement for you.
i. Even with a feast focused on thanksgiving for the harvest, Israel was still to remember their complete commitment to God in the burnt offerings, and their need for atonement in the sin offerings. God wants His people to live in an ongoing state of dependence on His atoning sacrifice and in surrendered devotion to Him.
ii. Be sure they are without blemish: “This is to be understood as applying, not only to the animals, but also to the flour, wine, and oil; every thing must be perfect in its kind.” (Clarke)