Summary of passage: The Lord tells Moses more instructions for bringing offerings to Him when they enter the Promised Land. Everyone must follow these rules including aliens for offerings. These are offerings by fire, special vows, freewill, or festival offerings. And offerings from the first ground meal as well.
The Lord describes offerings for unintentional sin both for the community as a whole and for the individual. They are to present a bull or goat to be sacrificed, the priest is to make atonement, and then they will be forgiven. However, if the sin is intentional, then that person must be cut off from his people.
A man gathering wood on the Sabbath was stoned to death at the Lord’s directive for breaking his command to keep the Sabbath holy.
The Lord commands all people to wear blue tassels on their garments as a reminder to obey His commands.
3a) God says He is giving them the Promised Land as a home and He is the one taking them there. The offerings in this chapter are offerings for when they get to the Promised Land so that must mean they will get there. God says when you eat of the food of the land–The Promised Land. God never said “if”. It’s “when”. God keeps His promises.
b) Gathering wood on the Sabbath. So the people would know the consequences of breaking God’s commands. We’re not sure the time-frame of this penalty but if it were so close to the rebellion of the people against God in Chapters 13-14, then God had to come down harshly to make His point to discourage any more rebellion by His people. To instill a fear of God in the people. Obviously, this man knew he was breaking the law and he did it anyways. To God, this is not okay. And this man paid the price. All the Israelites needed to know who was in control and thumbing your nose at God is not a good idea.
c) Positive: So the people will remember all the commands of the Lord and that they may obey the commands and not prostitute themselves by going after the lusts of their hearts and eyes. The tassels will show the people are consecrated to the Lord.
Negative: They are marked as God’s people and therefore may be targets of discrimination and hatred by pagan peoples. It could be annoying to always have a reminder about being good and make the people feel like children. However, God knows what His people need, and they are His children.
d) Personal Question. My answer: God wanted His people to have a visual reminder that they are His and are special to Him. It reminds me that I am special as well and am marked with the Holy Spirit as my reminder. God is with me to resist temptation and sin.
Conclusions: I think this must have been close after Numbers 13-14 of the rebellion as we see God reassuring the people, giving them visual reminders to help them, and punishing a man very severely for something small to make a point. God wants His people to obey and He is doing everything in His power to make them. God cares so much, doesn’t He?
End Notes: The people once more were almost eliminated by God. He had just told them none of them would live to see the Promised Land. The people needed God most here to comfort and reassure them that He is still with them, He still loves them, they can still be forgiven for their sins, and their children will see the Promised Land. God is pulling them back to Him with grace and mercy and love.
The amount of the offerings gets progressively bigger as our growth with Him should. As we know Him, we give more and more and sacrifice more and more and receive more and more from Him as a reward.
Sin is sin. Period. Unintentional sin still counts. Many dismiss it today as good intentions. Still, sin occurs and must be atoned for like any other sin. Luckily, our God is great and forgives all sins.
Intentional sin was basically a sentence of death. Wonder how many people today would be castigated out if this were still the case?
The color blue is associated with holiness. The Ark, the curtains, and the priest’s garments were of blue cloth.
We wear similar reminders today: cross necklaces and earrings, T-shirts, etc. Just like in Jesus’ day with the Pharisees (Matthew 23:5), we must be careful not to wear it in a prideful manner and as an indication of superiority over others.
I like wearing these reminders as a marking of whom I belong to to others. It can be a great conversation/evangelism jumping off point when people remark how much they like my necklace or earrings. I often forget I am wearing them, but others remind me!