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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Matt's Messages - Holy Days

“Holy Days”
Life in the Wilderness
September 1, 2007
Numbers 28:1-29:40

Lord willing, we’re going to finish the book of Numbers this month, in the next 4 messages.

It’s a little hard to get back into Numbers because we’ve taken 3 weeks off of Numbers with Jack Kelly’s visit and the messages on Re-Focusing and Going Fishing. And before that, we only had 2 messages in Numbers following 4 Sundays with guest preachers! So you might not even remember what is going on. Let’s review.

We’ve found ourselves at the end of the book of Numbers.

Israel has been rescued from Egypt, numbered once, prepared to go into Canaan, and then refused to go at the Retreat of Unbelief. They have then wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, Life in the Wilderness, and a whole generation has died off in God’s discipline. They have grumbled, complained, and rebelled a number of times. And yet God has been faithful to them. In fact, He has blessed them! They are a truly blessed people–even powerful magicians could not curse them. And there have been a few stand-out, faith-filled believers who have risen to the top, as well, especially: Joshua, Caleb, Zelophehad’s daughters, and zealous Phinehas.

And now, they have been numbered again. And the rest of the book, chapters 28-36, is full of the unfinished business that is important to record before the second generation is fully prepared to enter into the Promised Land.

In some ways, the last 9 chapters will seem like appendices to us, add-ons. The storyline doesn’t move a whole lot, and when it does, it’s about battles we don’t necessarily care about and decisions about property that we don’t really understand.

But, as we’ve seen over and over again in 2007, the book of Numbers is God’s Holy Word. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training so that we will be equipped for every good work!

And with a little digging, we’ll get a bigger vision of our God and we’ll come to better know Jesus–because every story whispers His name!

Numbers chapter 28 and 29 are about “Holy Days.”

Tomorrow is a United States holiday: Labor Day.

These days, a holiday is a break from normal work to celebrate or remember something, in this case, the value of work, labor.

But the word “holiday” originally came from the two words: Holy Day which were originally special days set aside to celebrate and remember God.

And Numbers chapters 28 and 29 are a calender of Holy Days.

They list the important days on the calendar of the nation of Israel set aside for the celebration, remembrance, and worship of the LORD.

And more than that, these two chapters record in great detail the exact kinds and numbers of sacrifices that were required by the LORD to be sacrificed by the priests for those particular days on the calendar of Holy Days.

So what I want to do is walk you through these two chapters and show you the basic features of this Calendar of Holy Days, and then I want to particularly draw your attention to three prominent themes that I think have deep application value for us today and will really prepare us for the Lord’s Table.

The first 8 verses talk about the daily offering.

The first Holy Day is every day. V.1

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: 'See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.' [God’s requirement.] Say to them: 'This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the LORD: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day. Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight, together with a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives. This is the regular burnt offering instituted at Mount Sinai as a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire. The accompanying drink offering is to be a quarter of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to the LORD at the sanctuary. Prepare the second lamb at twilight, along with the same kind of grain offering and drink offering that you prepare in the morning. This is an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.”

Do you get the picture? How often are these sacrifices made?

Daily. How many lambs? Two. When are they offered? Morning and Twilight.

Okay, that’s daily. The next category is weekly. V.9

“'On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.”

When is the Sabbath? Friday evening to Saturday evening. How often does that come? Every week. On those days, the morning and evening sacrifices are doubled. Every day is holy, but once a week, the day is even holier.

What do you think is next? Daily, Weekly...Monthly! V.11

“'On the first of every month [every month!], present to the LORD a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; and with each lamb, a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is for a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire. With each bull there is to be a drink offering of half a hin of wine; with the ram, a third of a hin; and with each lamb, a quarter of a hin. This is the monthly burnt offering to be made at each new moon [that is, monthly] during the year. Besides the regular burnt offering with its drink offering, one male goat is to be presented to the LORD as a sin offering.”

That’s daily, weekly, and monthly. What’s next? Yearly.

And there are several yearly Holy Days on Israel’s calendar.

The first listed is the Passover. V.16 [Listen for the word “seven” or its multiples!]

“'On the fourteenth day [7 times 2] of the first month the LORD's Passover is to be held. On the fifteenth day of this month there is to be a festival; for seven days eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Present to the LORD an offering made by fire, a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With each bull prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. Prepare these in addition to the regular morning burnt offering. In this way prepare the food for the offering made by fire every day for seven days as an aroma pleasing to the LORD; it is to be prepared in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.”

What was the Passover? It was the commemoration of the saving of Israel from the last and deadliest of the 10 plagues on Egypt–the death of the firstborn which was followed by the Red Sea Rescue.

The Passover was to be observed yearly (we’ve witnessed two historic Passover celebrations so far in the book of Numbers) and is marked by sacrifice, ceasing work, and sacred assembly.

The next Holy Day is the Feast of Weeks. V.26

‘On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the LORD an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Present a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. Include one male goat to make atonement for you. Prepare these together with their drink offerings, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its grain offering. Be sure the animals are without defect.”

The Feast of Weeks came 50 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread (connected to Passover), and it was a firstfruits celebration, a thanksgiving celebration for the beginning of the harvest.

In Numbers 29, there are three more yearly feasts. All three of them take place in the seventh month. There is something holy about the number 7, and there are 3 Holy Feasts in the seventh month.

The first is the Feast of Trumpets. V.1

“On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets.”

This as the time when they would sound the Shofar. It was a time of joy!

I’m not going to read verses 2 through 6. It’s more lists of offerings. Bulls, lambs, goats, flour, oil, wine.

It’s not called the book of Numbers for nothing, is it?!

V.7 tells us about the Day of Atonement. It’s the 10th day of the 7th month. V.7

“On the tenth day of this seventh month hold a sacred assembly. You must deny yourselves and do no work.”

The Day of Atonement was a solemn assembly. Not a feast but a fast.

And verses 8 through 11 describe the sacrifices for that day of repentance and receiving atonement for sins.

And then following that, in the same month, they had the biggest feast of all–the Feast of Tabernacles. V.12

“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Celebrate a festival to the LORD for seven days. [Seventh month, seven days of feasting.]”

Verses 13 through 40 list all of the stipulated sacrifices for each day of the feast of Tabernacles.

For the feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites would all go camping! They would build a tent next to their homes (notice that this assumes that they are in the Promised Land!), and they would live in their tents for a week.

And they would sacrifice, a little less each day, bulls, lambs, goats, flour, oil, wine.

I’m not going to read it all to you.

The point was to remember what God had done. How they had gone from living in tents in the wilderness to living in their homes in the Promised Land.

And praising God that He had done it!

Skip down to verse 39. It brings out the bottom line. “‘In addition to what you vow and your freewill offerings [we learned about those back in chapter 15], prepare these [two chapters worth of required sacrifices] for the LORD at your appointed feasts [your Holy Days]: your burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings and fellowship offerings.’ Moses told the Israelites all that the LORD commanded him.”

Now, I could preach a whole series of messages just on this calendar of Holy Days. There is so much here when you get the big picture, we could spend a lot of time on it.

But today, I just want to point out three themes here and draw specific application to our lives and prepare us for the Lord’s Table.

Here’s the first one. I think you’ve probably already noticed it. I’ve tried to draw attention to it.

Have you noticed how structured and planned this worship Holy Days is?

Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and several Yearly times specifically set apart for holiness.

This is a calendar! And it was required. It was not optional. Not to be neglected.

It often was neglected in the sad history of Israel, but it wasn’t supposed to be.

There was a rhythm to worship. Morning and evening, 1,2,3,4,5,6 days and then Sabbath, every time the smallest sliver of a moon appeared, and the first of year, the seventh month, specific days: there was a plan to this worship and it was regular and rhythmic.

Let me put it this way:

#1. WE NEED HOLY DAYS.

We need regularity and rhythm in our worship, in our communion with God.

It needs to be planned and on our calendars.

For the last 3 weeks, I’ve been asking this question:

Do you have a regular appointment for one-on-one time with God?

It’s built into us that we need it!

It’s built into us that we need regularity and rhythm in our relationship with God.

We need regular planning of when we are going to worship.

Now, there are problems that. We need to be able to worship whenever and wherever. People make the mistake of thinking that they can only worship and relate with God at certain set times and places. That’s not true. Anywhere and everywhere.

But we also need to plan for it! Often things don’t happen unless we plan for it.

At the Mitchell household, we’ve been looking at our calendars a lot recently. It’s the Fall, and we’re trying to fit in as many people and programs and things for the family, as we can. So, we’re constantly talking about our calendar.

If we don’t plan it, it probably won’t happen.

The same is true of our relationship with God. We need to plan to meet with Him.

Do you have a regular appointment for one-on-one time with God?

Now, this calendar in chapters 28 and 29 does not directly apply to us in the New Covenant.

These were Old Covenant sacrifices and Old Covenant Holy Days. Colossians chapter 2 says that they were just shadows of what was to come and the reality was Christ (vv.16&17).

So, we don’t have to worship at these particular times listed here.

But I think that there is a principle here that we would do well to heed, and that is systematic planning for regularity and rhythm in our relationship with God.

One person may choose one pattern and another a different pattern, each should be fully persuaded in their own mind. But I think that all should be developing a pattern.

Do you have a regular appointment for one-on-one time with God?

Pastors throughout the ages have recommended following the pattern of Morning and Evening Offerings and meeting with God morning and evening. That makes a lot of sense to me.

And more than just one-on-one time with God, we have a weekly meeting of this church, you are attending it right now.

And we are meeting with God right now as we listen to His Word.

I think that every believer should plan to be at this meeting every week.

Now, there will be times that that’s not possible. We are all away from time to time. I’m normally away about 8 times a year.

But wherever I am, I’m almost always, unless I’m sick or home with a sick kid, in church somewhere.

For the last 3 weeks, I’ve been asking the question:

Are you regular in Sunday morning attendance?

I don’t ask that question because I get year-end-bonus when we have good attendance at church. I don’t!

I don’t work on attendance commission!

I ask that question because we need it! Both you and I need planned and regular worship.

Daily, Weekly, Monthly. We celebrate the Lord’s Table here monthly.

A monthly reminder of Jesus’ Crosswork for us. We’re going to do it in just a few minutes.

And what about other Holy Days? I’ve been trying to work out a quarterly prayer retreat. What might you need to do to plan in a regularity and rhythm to your relationship with God?

Recently, my wife has realized that she can’t effectively get in her time with God during the afternoon nap time at home. With the pressures of homeschooling and just mothering four small children, she has realized that she needs a new plan.

So, starting this week, she’s set the coffee pot to go off an hour before everyone else gets up. And though she really loves sleep, she has pulled herself out of bed, grabbed that cup of joe, her Bible and her journal, and she’s regularly met with God.

What’s your plan?

We need Holy Days.

The second thing, I want to point out is also really obvious. And that is the massive amount of sacrifice that is going on in these two chapters.

There is so much blood in these chapters!

If my numbers are correct, every year there were to be sacrificed 113 bulls, 32 rams, 1,086 lambs, 1 ton of flour, and over 100 bottles of oil and wine.

And that’s just for the required sacrifices. That doesn’t include when people sin and break the covenant or the voluntary sacrifices that we learned about back in chapter 15!

That’s just the day in and day out and Holy Day sacrifices!

That’s a massive amount of blood flowing on that altar.

Why?

#2. WE NEED A HOLY SACRIFICE.

For the person who knows the New Testament, these two chapters just scream: “Jesus Christ!”

They just yell out “The Gospel!”

Because we have sinned and rebelled against our Holy Creator, we have a massive sin debt that can only be paid by blood sacrifice.

Only be paid by a substitute on our behalf.
Only be paid by a sacrifice without blemish or defect.
Only be paid by an atoning sacrifice.

We need a holy sacrifice to pay for our sins.

And all of these sacrifices in the Old Covenant were just a foreshadowing of the One Ultimate Sacrifice that was to come–Jesus!

In fact, all of these Holy Days pointed to Jesus.

He is now our Sabbath!
He is now our Passover!
He is now our Thanksgiving (our Feast of Weeks!)
He is now our Joy (the Feast of Trumpets!)
He is now our Day of Atonement. His substitutionary atonement pays for our sin debt.

He is now what we celebrate and what we anticipate (The Feast of Tabernacles).

I could preach on how Christ fulfills these Holy Days for weeks, but today, I just want us to see that He is our Holy Sacrifice!

John the Baptist pointed a finger at Jesus and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The writer to the Hebrews says, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The two chapters of blood in the book of Numbers point us to the blood of Jesus.

And there are millions of applications for that. But I want to point out at least 3.

First, if you are not trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you do not have the Holy Sacrifice that you need.

The good news is that you only need to turn from your sins and trust in His Holy Sacrifice alone and you will be saved! Do it today!

And second, we need to share this gospel with others! We need to get serious and stay serious about fishing for the lost. We need to fill out FISH Cards and more than that, we need to pray and fast and share the Gospel with them.

And third, if we are trusting Jesus Christ and His Holy Sacrifice, then we have everything to be thankful for and everything to motivate us to living obedient and holy lives for Him.

And that’s the third and last thing I want to point out this morning.

It’s this. We not only need Holy Days, and a Holy Sacrifice...

#3. WE NEED HOLY PEOPLE.

The majority of the sacrifices listed in these two chapters are the burnt offering kind.

In the burnt offering, the entire offering was consumed by fire.

And among other things, that was a picture of total dedication.

Now, we can’t make ourselves holy.

We can’t earn it. We can’t produce it.

But if we are saved, we can live holy lives of total dedication to God.

That’s why Paul says in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy [in view of the Cross], to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”

We can’t make ourselves holy, but after we experience the grace of God, we can offer ourselves (body and all) as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God (an aroma pleasing to Him)–this is our spiritual act of worship.

We need to give God our all.

Everything we have. Everything we are.

We need to be Holy People.

Have you given everything you are to God?

Have you done it today?

Worship at the Lord’s Table

As we approach the Lord’s Table, we are remembering the Lord’s sacrifice.

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews chapter 10, verse 10.

And we meditate on this enormous sacrifice!

“You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed ..., but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

And as we approach the Lord’s Table, we are reminded of God’s call to give Him our all.

“In view of God's mercy [in view of the Cross]...offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”

And we now set aside this time, as a holy time to remember and celebrate Him.

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