Numbers 29 – Holy Joy

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

The Lord instituted three annual feasts for the theocratic nation, which every male was required to attend (Exod 23:14-17). The first two, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) and the Feast of Harvest (Weeks) were addressed in Numbers 28:16-31, specifically focusing on the offerings. Numbers 29 focuses on events preceding and including the third feast, the feast of Tabernacles (Booths, Lev 23:33-44; Deut 16:13-17).

15 days before the week-long Feast of Tabernacles, on the first day of the 7th month trumpets were sounded, no work was done, and offerings were given, including those customary to the beginning of every month (cf. 28:11-13).

On the 10th day of that same month was the Day of Atonement, when the high priest would make his once a year entrance into the holy of holies and make atonement for Israel’s sins. That same day every Israelite, wherever they lived, would do no work but would humble themselves and seek the Lord, which probably included fasting (Isa 58:3, 5; Zech 2:5).

Finally, every Israelite man would then come to wherever the Tabernacle was for the week-long Feast of Tabernacles. They would live in booths to remember the time of sojourning after the Lord delivered them from Egypt (Lev 23:42-43). This feast was characterized by great rejoicing (Lev 23:40; Deut 16:14, 16) and worship through offerings as detailed here in Numbers 29:12-38.

  1. God intended that life in the Old Testament theocracy be worshipful and joyful. Too often it is viewed as dull ritual, and while that did occur such was the fault of sinful men, not the Lord’s righteous law. Faith and genuine sorrow for sin was required for the worship to be genuine (cf. Isa 1:12-15; 58:1-5).
  2. Again, in God’s nation he decreed how his people should live before and worship him. They were to order their lives by the laws and ordinances of the God who delivered, established, and dwelt among them.
  3. While God’s Law was perfect and good it did not enable the necessary faith and love for true obedience (Rom 7:7-8:7).
  4. Christians should neither subject themselves to these ordinances nor let others evaluate them spiritually by such (Col 2:16-23; Rom 7:4-6). The Law was for Israel, the OT theocratic nation, and was indivisible. The church is not Israel. This does not mean Christians are without law (“antinomian”). Quite the contrary, as participants in the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant they have the Law of Christ written on their hearts, which is far more comprehensive (Rom 6:14-15; 7:4; 8:2-4; 10:4; Gal 2:19; 3:1-4, 24; 5:18; 6:2; Heb 7:12, 18-19; 8:7-10, 13; 10:16).

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