God’s Word for You
Numbers 28:9-10 Weekly sacrifice
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, January 3, 2022
The Sabbath Offerings
9 On the Sabbath day, you shall present two one-year-old male lambs without defect, four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and its drink offering. 10 This is the whole burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.
The progression that the Lord gives is daily (morning and evening) sacrifices, now weekly (Sabbath) sacrifices, and this will be followed by monthly (new moon) festivals. For the ordinary Hebrew, there was no special church service as we have today, but there were these additional two lambs.
This special Sabbath observance was ancient, going back all the way to the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). Since God set the seventh day of every week aside as holy, man takes a day of rest, especially for spiritual renewal but also for physical rest from labor. There was a no command about the Sabbath until the beginning of the appearance of manna (Exodus 16:26) and renewed along with the Third Commandment (Exodus 20:9-11), and the law was codified in Leviticus 23:3, but the people should have understood it already from Adam’s time. It is most likely that Cain and Abel brought their offerings in imitation of what they saw their parents doing on a Sabbath day (Genesis 4:3-4).
Here the specifics of the Sabbath offering are given. In substance it was of similar stuff as the daily sacrifice, but the number of lambs was doubled. The amount of the grain offering was also doubled. Based on the wording of the text, it seems that these additional lambs with their grain offering and drink offering (probably beer as with the morning and evening sacrifice) were not just added to the morning and evening sacrifice but were a separate, special offering, with both lambs slaughtered at once and the “four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil… together with its drink offering,” presents all at once.
Let’s be clear about this again for comparison in our own lives: The Hebrews would not have gone to the tabernacle as a community or fellowship just to see the Sabbath sacrifice. They took the day as a day of rest, but the idea of meeting together on that day is something that didn’t really begin until the synagogue became widely known. Today, some Jews consider passages such as Exodus 18:20 (and even citing Acts 15:21) to suggest that the synagogue was known already in Moses’ day. Others think that it did not appear until the time of the Babylonian captivity. We don’t need to make a judgment, but what we can appreciate is the value of gathering every week for worship. As of this writing, we have been struggling with weekly worship for nearly two years, and some members, with understandable and valid health concerns, have stayed home. We are blessed with live streaming and other forms of live worship that would have been impossible twenty years ago. In the past, delayed-broadcast cable programs, some limited regular TV (this was rare), and radio programs served people. Before that, mailed sermons or even printed books of sermons helped people in emergency times like this. Pastoral visits help, but even a staff of two or three pastors cannot get to a couple hundred members every week, let alone a couple thousand.
The blessing of regular, weekly worship is the fullest presentation of spiritual health to the church of God’s people. The benefits of gathering are clearest when you haven’t been able to do it for months or years at a time. To confess our sins together, to be absolved of those sins together, to hear the lessons presented by the worship leader together, to sing hymns together, often in harmony and with delightful instrumentation, to hear the sermon presented live, in person, so that the pastor’s message is adjusted by our facial expressions (do they understand? a voice in his head asks. Should I make a different illustration?), to pray together for each other—all of these are benefits. But also, to see a baptism together, as a church, and to receive the Lord’s Supper as a church… Here is the gospel in person, for the baby, for each one of us. Here is the forgiveness of sins on our tongues and in our throats, the same throats we will use in the closing hymn of praise and thanks. Oh, to hear the sermon and to worship the Lord with my brothers and sisters in Christ! When I end each service I say the words, “It’s good to worship with you.” I say those repeated words to mask the stirring emotions I cannot put into adequate words, something like Psalm 147:1, “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” This also happens whenever I end a live Bible class, which I end, by habit, with the words, “Thanks for letting me do this.” Paul said, “we also thank God continually because you received the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). I could close every one of these devotions the same way, except that I like to finish with my Savior’s name, “the name that above every name,” above my own.
Week after week, and even day after day, we study the word of God and take it to heart. This is the message about Jesus, whether the history of Jews that all pointed ahead to the coming of the Savior, of the epistles of the Apostles who point to no one else but him—this is the news, the good news, of our salvation and everlasting life.
Pastor Timothy Smith