God’s Word for You
Numbers 28:11-15 Monthly sacrifices
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, January 4, 2022
The Monthly Offering
11 At the beginning of each of your months, you shall present as a whole burnt offering to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs without defect, 12 along with six quarts of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering for each bull; four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering for the one ram; 13 and two quarts of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering for every lamb—as a burnt offering with a pleasing aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD. 14 Their drink offerings will be two quarts of wine for a bull, a quart and a half for a ram, and one quart for a lamb. This is the monthly burnt offering for each month of the year. 15 One male goat is to be presented as a sin offering to the LORD in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.
The monthly sacrifice was made on the first day of the month, or new moon. A new moon is the name in astronomy and astrology for the day when the moon is passing between the earth and the sun. In ancient times, this was the way that everyone marked the beginning of the new month. Some pious Israelites fasted the night before as well as the day of the new moon (Judith 8:6), but for others such as David and Saul, it was a day of feasting, not fasting (1 Samuel 20:5; Psalm 81:3). Some families also made the new moon celebration the time for special family sacrifices (1 Samuel 20:6,29). It was expected that prophets would be consulted on new moons (2 Kings 4:23), and according to Amos, merchants stopped buying and selling during the new moon, at least during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah (Amos 8:5).
Like the other festivals, the new moon was a shadow of the coming of Christ, when something new would replace something old (Colossians 2:16-17), and out of the darkness of the new moon a light would shone forth: the light was Christ (Isaiah 58:10; Micah 7:8). One description of the massive population of heaven is that worship will go on “from one new moon to another… all mankind will come and bow down” (Isaiah 66:23).
Here again the amounts of the sacrifice are given; this fact makes this chapter indispensable to our understanding of the specifics of the sacrifices. Ten animals were sacrificed as burnt offerings, showing complete dedication to the Lord. Two young bulls, a ram, and seven lambs were sacrificed (the number 7, showing holiness, keep recurring throughout these offerings). A considerable amount of grain offering with oil was given with each animal, as well as a drink offering. Here in the monthly sacrifices, beer (“strong drink”) was not used as it was in the daily and weekly sacrifice, but wine was offered, the fruit of the vine, more than three and a half gallons of wine in all (½ gallon for each bull, a quart and a half for the goat, and a quart for each lamb).
Like so many things that are commonplace, the sacrifices were so very common that there are very few documents, in or out of the Bible, that fill in the gaps of our understanding of what was happening.
To sacrifice was to express devotion and worship. This is clear even after the destruction of the temple, when the earliest Christians were tormented by Romans trying to get them to sacrifice to the gods or even to Caesar as if he were a god. “The police captain… and his father met him (Polycarp). They brought him into their carriage and sat down beside him, trying to persuade him, saying, ‘Why? What’s wrong with saying, “Caesar is lord” and the other things, and be saved (from execution)’?” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 8:2). Those New Testament books written after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, do not spend time on the specifics of the old temple worship, but go into detail instead about the one sacrifice that truly makes a difference. “Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). And again: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In the New Testament church, we are blessed by knowing that the Son of God “will be with us in truth and love” (2 John 1:3) through the preaching of the word, and that everything we offer is like a sacrifice, but without any regulations, any rules, or any amounts. What we give to the Lord out of thanks to him delights him. A sacrifice given because it is commanded is no sacrifice at all to God. “Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them” (Isaiah 1:14). What God looks for in us today is faith, faith in Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. “Whoever believes in me,” Jesus said, “will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25), and “when a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me” (John 12:44). We offer up our whole lives, our bodies as “living sacrifices” in God’s service (Romans 12:1). He does not consume us, but he fills us with his goodness and love, and he uses the things we do for him in the service of his kingdom.
Pastor Timothy Smith