Saturday, May 10, 2014

Numbers 7

Today's reading in our daily plan is Numbers 7. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • In our previous weekend reading, Numbers 6, God expressed his desire to bless the Israelites. This chapter profiles how leaders of the Israelites responded: by bringing gifts and sacrifices to the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was kind of like a church, though it had greater significance to the Israelites because they brought physical sacrifices to God at the Tabernacle. 
  • This chapter contains an exhaustive list of the gifts each leader brought to give to God. You'll notice many of the gifts were measured in "shekels." A shekel was a term used to describe the weight of a metal coin (similar to grams). The value of a shekel has fluctuated over time, and Shekels are still used in Israel today. (Currently 1 shekel is equal to about 30 cents in U.S. currency, but that conversation rate has gone up and down drastically over the course of history.)
  • The gifts from the Israelites were used to improve the Tabernacle and to provide sacrifices to God. During that time, the only way God would forgive you for your sins is if you killed your best animal on an altar. The idea is that the animal took on your sins, and when the animal died, so did your sins.
  • Verse 89 mentions that Moses "entered the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord." The tent of meeting was a certain room in which the presence of God physically dwelt. This meant a designated person (Moses, in this case) could enter the tent of meeting and talk directly to God on behalf of other people (the Israelites, in this case).

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • All of the Israelite leaders sacrificed items that cost them something. As followers of Jesus we need to look for meaningful ways to serve him: ways that cost us time, money, plans, and more. It would have been easy for the Israelites to find free options or cheap animals to sacrifice to God, but they chose to give their best gifts and sacrifices to God.
  • When Jesus died, he served as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Because of what he did we no longer have to sacrifice animals; Jesus took all of the sins of humanity on himself. When we decide to give our life to him, we accept that forgiveness of sins and live a new life with God. 
  • And, because of what Jesus did, we no longer have to rely on a priest or other leader to go into a special room and talk to God on our behalf. God invites us to a personal relationship with himself, and that means we can talk freely and directly to God. We all have equal access to him.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Have you given God anything that costs you something? For example:
    • Instead of using all of your free time or weekends for yourself, what if you took a few hours each week to volunteer at Verve or to show God's love to people who are less fortunate?
    • If you've given your life to God but haven't started giving money to his work through the church, why not start giving this week?
    • Maybe you're planning to climb the corporate ladder or do whatever it takes to become as successful as you can be. What if you instead gave your plans to God and asked him to lead you on the journey he wants you to take? 
  • If you've given your life to God, have you taken advantage of the free and direct access you have to him? Do you talk to him regularly? You get out of a relationship with God what you put in. Start looking for new opportunities to spend time with God throughout your day -- maybe you could talk to him for a few minutes on your lunch break, or wake up five minutes earlier each day to read that much more of the Bible.