“These you shall offer to the Lord at your appointed feasts, in addition to your vow offerings and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your grain offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.” Numbers 29:39 (ESV)
Offerings and sacrifices, bulls and rams, grain and drink, feasts and atonement.
All reminders that they were sinful and only reliance on God would bring them safely through any given day. A needed reminder as the months and years ahead would test their faith to the fullest extent.
How often do I need that reminder that on my own I am not enough? Uh, daily. They had frequent, lengthy reminders that only God could save them. Their sin required repeated and plentiful atonement.
Those that thought they were enough on their own died in the wilderness.
65 For the Lord had said of them, “They shall die in the wilderness.” Not one of them was left, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. ~Numbers 26:65 (ESV)
Even Moses, who thought banging on a rock would work better than quiet obedience to God’s plan, would not step foot in the promised land.
This next generation that had seen each of their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts die in the wilderness carried vivid reminders of the weight of sin and the consequence of a heart of rebellion.
Over a thousand years later Paul would face that challenging choice as well. Obey, or look back with self-preservation and doubt.
What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” ~Luke 21:13, 14
Although his friends begged him not to go, he knew God’s clear call on his life and stepped into the fire. That step of obedience would bring him ultimately to his death, but before that it also carried him to some of his greatest opportunities to lift high the name of Jesus and preach the gospel to those who might not otherwise have heard.
Father God, remind me often that You are worth the cost. That my sin cost you so much, and each day is a new opportunity to express my thanks through obedience and faith. Help me trust when it’s hard. Help me obey through the pain so that Your love may flow even more plentifully to this aching, dying world around me. ~Amen