Numbers 15 takes place immediately after the Israelites have rebelled against God and refused to take the promised land as He commanded. They were intimidated and did not trust Him. God punished them to 40 years in the desert, and then some went to attack to take the promised land… again rebelling against God’s new instructions for them to go back into the desert. They lost as God was not with them.
What grace in our Lord to then encourage them by giving instructions reaffirming that He still plans to give them the promised land. Here in Numbers 15, He provides instructions for when that time comes. He had 40 years to give these instructions, but gave them at this time… when surely many were disheartened.
Another key element to reflect on in this scripture is that the Israelites and others who go with them all share the same instructions. Just as today in which Gentiles accepting Christ as Lord are welcomed in to God’s people, so too thousands of years ago. Those who choose to go with God’s people will be accepted in and under the same instructions. They are not any lesser important than the Jews who were chosen first. None are turned away who wholeheartedly seek the Lord.
Third, the Lord clearly distinguishes the guilt of unintentional sin from rebellion. Unintentional sin is still sin and worthy of repentance, but is easily forgiven. Blatant, intentional sin represents rebellion and is called out as blaspheming the Lord. As you can see from Numbers 14, rebelling against God has consequences. We can take heart, however, as Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient for all sin. Should we rebel defiantly, turn back as soon as you can… with no delay. Repent and ask forgiveness. Obey the Lord. You may have consequences, but the Lord is one who forgives. Our sins can be forgiven through the sacrifice, the death and resurrection, of Christ.
Laws for Canaan
1Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land where you are to live, which I am giving you, 3then make an offering by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering or a sacrifice to fulfill a special vow, or as a freewill offering or in your appointed times, to make a soothing aroma to the LORD, from the herd or from the flock. 4‘The one who presents his offering shall present to the LORD a grain offering of one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of oil, 5and you shall prepare wine for the drink offering, one-fourth of a hin, with the burnt offering or for the sacrifice, for each lamb. 6‘Or for a ram you shall prepare as a grain offering two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-third of a hin of oil; 7and for the drink offering you shall offer one-third of a hin of wine as a soothing aroma to the LORD. 8‘When you prepare a bull as a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a special vow, or for peace offerings to the LORD, 9then you shall offer with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-half a hin of oil; 10and you shall offer as the drink offering one-half a hin of wine as an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD.
11‘Thus it shall be done for each ox, or for each ram, or for each of the male lambs, or of the goats. 12‘According to the number that you prepare, so you shall do for everyone according to their number. 13‘All who are native shall do these things in this manner, in presenting an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD.
Law of the Sojourner
14‘If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do. 15‘As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. 16‘There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.’”
17Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 18“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land where I bring you, 19then it shall be, that when you eat of the food of the land, you shall lift up an offering to the LORD. 20‘Of the first of your dough you shall lift up a cake as an offering; as the offering of the threshing floor, so you shall lift it up. 21‘From the first of your dough you shall give to the LORD an offering throughout your generations.
22‘But when you unwittingly fail and do not observe all these commandments, which the LORD has spoken to Moses, 23even all that the LORD has commanded you through Moses, from the day when the LORD gave commandment and onward throughout your generations, 24then it shall be, if it is done unintentionally, without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one bull for a burnt offering, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the ordinance, and one male goat for a sin offering. 25‘Then the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and they will be forgiven; for it was an error, and they have brought their offering, an offering by fire to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their error. 26‘So all the congregation of the sons of Israel will be forgiven, with the alien who sojourns among them, for it happened to all the people through error.
27‘Also if one person sins unintentionally, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sin offering. 28‘The priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven. 29‘You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien who sojourns among them. 30‘But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. 31‘Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him.’”
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