New European Commentary

 

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Num 28:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
The commands about the continual burnt offering are repeated more frequently and in more detail in the Law of Moses than those about anything else or any other offering. It’s as if God perceived the likely tendency of His people to forget the regular sacrifices and focus instead on the occasional ones; and to disregard the commands about the grain offering, which was so small and yet so valuable to God. It is likewise continually stressed in the legislation that these continual sacrifices were “a pleasant aroma to Me” (:2). Spirituality is about daily discipline, not occasional acts of devotion; hourly prayer, daily Bible reading, constant spiritual mindedness, rather than occasional attendance at a church meeting. When God later asked Israel “Did you offer unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?” (Am. 5:25; Acts 7:42), the answer implied is that no, they did not. Hence this repetition here at the end of the wilderness journey. The whole purpose of their being given Canaan was so that they would have an environment in which to keep God’s laws (Ps. 105:45). Likewise with us- if we’re not interested in keeping God’s principles in this life, there will be little point in our being given the Kingdom, which is likewise an arena in which we can live perfectly according to His principles.



Num 28:2 Command the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘My offering, My food for My offerings made by fire of a pleasant aroma to Me, you shall observe to offer to Me in their due season’-
Paul saw the sacrifices of Israel as having some relevance to the Christian communion meal. He comments: "Are those who eat the victims not in communion with the altar?" (1 Cor. 10:18); and the altar is clearly the Lord Jesus (Heb. 13:10). Eating of the communion meal was and is, therefore, fundamentally a statement of our fellowship with the altar, the Lord Jesus, rather than with others who are eating of Him. The bread and wine which we consume thus become antitypical of the Old Testament sacrifices; and they were repeatedly described as "Yahweh's food", laid upon the altar as "the table of Yahweh" (Lev. 21:6,8; 22:25; Num. 28:2; Ez. 44:7,16; Mal. 1:7,12). And it has been commented: "Current translations are inaccurate; lehem panim is the 'personal bread' of Yahweh, just as sulhan panim (Num. 4:7) is the 'personal table' of Yahweh". This deeply personal relationship between Yahweh and the offerer is continued in the breaking of bread; and again, the focus is upon the worshipper's relationship with Yahweh rather than a warning against fellowshipping the errors of fellow worshippers through this action. What is criticized in later Israel is the tendency to worship Yahweh through these offerings at the same time as offering sacrifice to other gods.


Num 28:3 You shall tell them, ‘This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to Yahweh: male lambs a year old without blemish, two day by day, for a continual burnt offering-
No animal actually is without blemish. God recognizes that we will not attain perfection in this life, but we are to do our best towards it; and His love imputes righteousness to us, counting us as unblemished because of our status in Christ. For only Christ was the sacrifice totally without moral blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).


Num 28:4 You shall offer the one lamb in the morning and you shall offer the other lamb at evening-
The continual sacrifice of lambs was to remind them that the Passover deliverance through the lamb was effectively ongoing. The Passover lamb was likewise to be a year old (Ex. 12:5). We too are to live constantly under the impression of the Lord's sacrifice and redemption of us. Israel were asked to use a lamb of the first year to record various times when they should be thankful for God's redemption of them in the events which comprise life (Lev. 9:3; 12:6; 23:12,18,19; Num. 6:12,14; 7:15,17,21; 28:3,9,11,19; 29:2,8,13). This was to continually recall to them the events of their great redemption through the Red Sea. And the essence of our redemption, our baptism and salvation through the blood of the lamb, must likewise be brought ever before us.

Num 28:5 with the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil-
The law of Moses was not an iron law which had to be obeyed in every context. Clearly this law (first given at Sinai at the start of their journeys) about oil and wine being offered with the daily sacrifices would have been practically impossible to keep during the forty years wandering. And likewise during the time of initial conquest of Canaan. Every day, half a hin (1.8 liters, 3.8 pints, around half a gallon) of olive oil and the same of wine would have been required. And this was just for the daily offerings; there were many days when more sacrifices were offered. It was by grace that God would have overlooked this. I suggest that it is to this which Am. 5:25 refers, challenging Israel to remember that God had accepted them in the wilderness by grace alone, as they were unable to keep His ideal requirements: "Did you bring Me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness?”.


Num 28:6 It is a continual burnt offering, which was ordained in Mount Sinai for a pleasant aroma, an offering made by fire to Yahweh-
“A pleasant aroma” is a very common phrase. This concept is important to God. It first occurs in Gen. 8:21 where it means that God accepted Noah's sacrifice and vowed that the pole of saving mercy in His character was going to triumph over that of necessary judgment. Under the new covenant, it is persons and not sacrifices or incense which are accepted as a "pleasant aroma" (Ez. 20:41). The word for "pleasant" means strong delight; this is how God's heart can be touched by genuine sacrifice. Those pleasing offerings represented us, the living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). And so it is applied to us in 2 Cor. 2:15- if we are in Christ, we are counted as a pleasant aroma to God. The offering of ourselves to Him is nothing of itself, but because we are in Christ and counted as Him, we are a delight to God. Hence the colossal importance of being “in Christ”. "Aroma" or "smell" is a form of the Hebrew word ruach, the word for spirit or breath. God discerns the spirit of sacrifices, that was what pleased Him rather than the burning flesh of animals. Our attitude of mind in sacrifice can touch Him. Sacrifice is therefore accepted, Paul says, according to what a person has to give, but the essence is the attitude of mind behind it. We think of the two coins sacrificed by the widow.

Num 28:7 Its drink offering shall be the fourth part of a hin for the one lamb. You shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to Yahweh in the holy place-
Bread (:4) and wine were effectively offered with the lamb. The Lord's choice of symbols for the breaking of bread surely had this in mind. They are but the side offerings, as it were, compared to the lamb. To take bread and wine would beg the question: 'And where is the slain lamb?'. And the answer to that at the breaking of bread is 'Here in our midst'.


Num 28:8 The other lamb you shall offer at evening. As the grain offering of the morning, and as the drink offering of it, you shall offer it, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh-
Literally "between the two evenings", as at Passover night (Ex. 12:6). See on :4.

Num 28:9 On the Sabbath day two male lambs a year old without blemish, and two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and the drink offering of it-
This looked ahead to the unblemished character of the Lord Jesus. The offering of sacrifices "without blemish" uses a word which is used about Abraham and Noah being "without blemish" (AV "perfect") before God (Gen. 6:9; 17:1). Although the word is used about the sacrifices, it is really more appropriate to persons- "you shall be perfect with Yahweh your God" (Dt. 18:13), "serve Him in sincerity (s.w. "without blemish")" (Josh. 24:14). The idea, therefore, was that the offerer was invited to see the animal as representative of himself. Our lives too are to be as "living sacrifices" (Rom. 12:1). And yet in practical terms, no animal is without blemish. They were to give the best they could, and God would count it as without blemish; as He does with us. David frequently uses the term in the Psalms about himself and the "upright", even though he was far from unblemished in moral terms.

Here for the only time in the Law it is pointed out that the Sabbath sacrifices must include a grain offering, although this principle had been given in Num. 15:3. The theme of this chapter is that the small offerings mustn’t be forgotten nor minimized in importance.


Num 28:10 this is the burnt offering of every Sabbath, besides the continual burnt offering, and the drink offering of it-
There are great implications of the little word "besides". There was the warning not to let the offering of other sacrifices tempt the people to think that the "continual burnt offering" was therefore not to be taken seriously on those days. The regular, purposeful beginning and ending of each day with devotion to the Lord is something which nothing else should ever displace. I was recently working with a group of fine brothers and sisters trying to plaster and paint a house against a deadline. We worked day and night quite literally- and afterwards confessed to each other that in those days, our prayer and Bible reading had taken a major slip. Of course at the time, we all told ourselves that we were about the Lord's work... which we were. But my point is that the "continual burnt offering" of devotional 'quiet time' with the Lord, prayer and Bible reading, really must not slip. I challenge us to start each day with some "quiet time", to make Him our arm every morning, to strive the harder for a more disciplined life- with the dynamic in it all being the transfixing experience of knowing Jesus as our finest friend, inspiring brother, matchless Saviour, Son of God.

Num 28:11 In the beginnings of your months you shall offer a burnt offering to Yahweh: two young bulls, and one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish-
This was to remind them that the Passover deliverance through the lamb was effectively ongoing; see on :4. The Passover lamb was likewise to be a year old (Ex. 12:5). We too are to live constantly under the impression of the Lord's sacrifice and redemption of us. Israel were asked to use a lamb of the first year to record various times when they should be thankful for God's redemption of them in the events which comprise life (Lev. 9:3; 12:6; 23:12,18,19; Num. 6:12,14; 7:15,17,21; 28:3,9,11,19; 29:2,8,13). This was to continually recall to them the events of their great redemption through the Red Sea. And the essence of our redemption, our baptism and salvation through the blood of the lamb, must likewise be brought ever before us.

Num 28:12 and three tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for each bull; and two tenth parts of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for the one ram-
The new moon festival was to effectively be a Sabbath of rest and worship (Is. 66:23; Ez. 46:1; Am. 8:5), a time for worship and teaching of the law (2 Kings 4:23). Most of the surrounding nations worshipped the moon whenever there was a new moon (Dt. 4:19; Job 31:26,27; Jer. 8:2). God saw that this was going to be part of the religious need of people at that time, and He makes a kind of concession to that weakness and need. Israel were to keep a new moon festival- but dedicate it to Him. We marvel at His awareness of human needs within the cultures they live in. 


Num 28:13 and a tenth part of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering to every lamb; for a burnt offering of a pleasant aroma, an offering made by fire to Yahweh-
Paul writes of the church in Corinth that God has "tempered" the whole body together (1 Cor. 12:24). This is alluding to the way in which the unleavened cakes of flour were "mixed" or "tempered" with the oil (cp. the Spirit) in order to be an acceptable offering (Lev. 2:4,5; 7:10; 9:4 etc.). Paul has already likened his Corinthian ecclesia to a lump of unleavened flour (1 Cor. 5:7); he is now saying that they have been "tempered" together by the oil of God's Spirit. If we break apart from our brethren, we are breaking apart, or denying, that "tempering" of the body which God has made.

Num 28:14 Their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, and the third part of a hin for the ram, and the fourth part of a hin for a lamb: this is the burnt offering of every month throughout the months of the year-
This had only previously been required in the specific case of Ex. 29:40 but in Num. 15:10 was then made applicable to every sacrifice. After the rejection of the people in Num. 14, God wanted them to have this extra feature in relationship with Him. I see it that way, rather than Him as it were punishing them with more legislation. For that was not at all the purpose of any of His Mosaic laws.


Num 28:15 One male goat for a sin offering to Yahweh; it shall be offered besides the continual burnt offering, and the drink offering of it-
The fact they were offering 'extra' offerings was not to take them away from realizing their sin and need for atonement. Such reminders are always necessary. The offering of other sacrifices was not to tempt the people to think that the "continual burnt offering" was therefore not to be taken seriously on those days. The regular, purposeful beginning and ending of each day with devotion to the Lord is something which nothing else should ever displace. 


Num 28:16 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, is Yahweh’s Passover-
The people of Israel as a body were going through the death and resurrection experience of the Lord Jesus, through recalling the process of the Passover and Exodus through the Red Sea. Israel ate Passover (Ex. 12:6) [14th Abib], as the Lord died on the cross as the Passover lambs were slain; Israel left Egypt the next day (Num. 33:3) [15th Abib] and journeyed three days (Ex. 8:27) [15th-17th Abib], and the Lord Jesus was three days in the tomb. Israel then came through the Red Sea [17th Abib], connecting with the Lord's being resurrected. As we come out of the baptismal water, we really are united with the resurrected Lord- a new creation. His newness of life, His deliverance and successful exodus from the world- all this becomes ours.


Num 28:17 On the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten-
These seven days were to recall the seven days of creation; for the exodus was a new creation of Israel, out of the water of the Red Sea.


Num 28:18 In the first day shall be a holy gathering: you shall do no servile work-
Work was obviously required in order to keep the Passover; the "work" in view is therefore secular work. The repeated emphasis upon this is to demonstrate that blessing and salvation was to be by grace and not works. They were to cease from their own works. And this repeated lesson taught to them is likewise taught to us in different ways.

Num 28:19 but you shall offer an offering made by fire, a burnt offering to Yahweh: two young bulls, and one ram, and seven male lambs a year old; they shall be to you without blemish-
No animal actually is without blemish. God recognizes that we will not attain perfection in this life, but we are to do our best towards it; and His love imputes righteousness to us, counting us as unblemished because of our status in Christ. For only Christ was the sacrifice totally without moral blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).


Num 28:20 and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: you shall offer three tenth parts for a bull, and two tenth parts for the ram-
For "mixed", see on :13. One of the most obvious similarities between these offerings and the breaking of bread is that they both feature bread and wine, associated with a slain animal in the midst (Num. 15:9,10; 2 Sam. 6:17- 19). And further, both require the eating of the sacrifice by the offerer. The peace offering and Passover (also typical of the memorial meeting) featured the offerer eating the sacrifice "before the Lord". This phrase "before the Lord" is continually emphasized in the records of the peace offerings. I guess we would all admit that our sense of the presence of the Father and Son at our memorial meetings has much room for improvement. We really are "before the Lord" as we sit there. God came unto men when they offered acceptable peace offerings (Ex. 20:24), as He is made known to us through the breaking of bread.

Num 28:21 You shall offer a tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs-
The sacrifices on each of the seven days were two young bullocks, one ram and seven lambs for a burnt offering, with the accompanying meat offerings, and one goat for a sin offering (Num. 28:19-24). This explains why the Jews at the time of the Lord's death were careful about not being defiled so that they might eat the Passover (Jn. 18:28). The reference is not to the Passover lamb, but to these sacrifices which began the seven day feast of unleavened bread which followed the Passover feast, which only last one day.


Num 28:22 and one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you-
A goat being chosen for the sin offering tempts us to think of the Lord's usage of sheep and goats as representing the righteous and the sinners. The Lord Jesus, the ultimate sin offering, was in one sense the spotless Passover lamb of God; in another sense, He was totally identified with the goats- sinful, rejected humanity. Likewise He was represented by the serpent lifted up on the pole.

Num 28:23 You shall offer these besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a continual burnt offering-
The offering of other sacrifices was not to tempt the people to think that the "continual burnt offering" was therefore not to be taken seriously on those days. The regular, purposeful beginning and ending of each day with devotion to the Lord is something which nothing else should ever displace. 


Num 28:24 In this way you shall offer daily, for seven days, the food of the offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh. It shall be offered besides the continual burnt offering, and the drink offering of it-
It is so often stressed, both in this chapter and elsewhere, that these continual offerings mustn’t be forgotten about at the time of the greater festivals. See on :1. But these "continual" offerings were designed to provoke the question in the heart of all thoughtful believers: 'Does God really want all these animals?'. David at the time of his sin with Bathsheba was taught that God didn't actually want them so much as He wanted a contrite heart which throws itself upon Him. He did not so much require the continual burnt offerings, but rather "Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, pay your vows to the Most High" (Ps. 50:8,15). Heartfelt praise was what God hungered for, not ritualistic sacrifice. To this day, He is thrilled by from the heart thanksgiving, and actions of gratitude for what He has done ["pay your vows"].


Num 28:25 On the seventh day you shall have a holy gathering: you shall do no servile work-
"Gathering" is LXX ekklesia. This is the word rendered "church" in the New Testament. We could reason from this therefore that "church" specifically refers to a gathering of God's people. At that time and during those moments, they are a church. When the entire community of believers is referred to as "church", this is how God views them- as if they are all gathered together at a gathering or convocation before Him. The word in its Biblical usage therefore doesn't refer to what we might call a denomination or fellowship.


Num 28:26 Also in the day of the first fruits, when you offer a new grain offering to Yahweh in your feast of weeks, you shall have a holy gathering; you shall do no servile work-
The celebration of harvest was typically a celebration of the fruits of human labour. But God's people were to be careful to realize that any harvest blessings were ultimately of God and not of their labour. At the time when every hour of the day was used to bring in the harvest, the people were to have a break from their labours.


Num 28:27 but you shall offer a burnt offering for a pleasant aroma to Yahweh: two young bulls, one ram, seven male lambs a year old-
The usual pattern for the offerings was sin offering, burnt offering [dedication to God on the basis of being reconciled from sin] and then peace offerings, celebrating the resultant peace with God. But here the burnt offering comes first (:27), with the sin offering as a kind of afterthought (:29). The idea is that the harvest must be dedicated to God and accepted as His blessing and gift. But there was to be the awareness that they were all sinners and this gift had been by grace.

Num 28:28 and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil, three tenth parts for each bull, two tenth parts for the one ram-
The continual stress upon the usage of oil [shehmen] may look ahead to the meshiach, the Christ, the anointed one. All aspects of the offerings looked ahead to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Num 28:29 a tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs-
Frankincense was to be added to the flour (Lev. 2:1). This was a type of incense which would have given a pleasing smell to the burning flour. This represented how pleased God was with the offering even of a handful of flour (Lev. 2:2). Small sacrifices please Him immensely. And they are what comprise daily life.


Num 28:30 one male goat, to make atonement for you-
See on :27. The total number of animals offered therefore comes to 13 (10 in :27, one in :30, two in :31). This perhaps refers to the 13 tribes, including Levi.


Num 28:31 Besides the continual burnt offering, and the grain offering of it, you shall offer them (they shall be to you without blemish), and their drink offerings-
Every animal is blemished in some way, but they were to offer that which in their eyes (“to you”) was without blemish. Whilst we are to offer our best, it’s only the best in our eyes, and is only accepted by grace.