1 – Numbers 28:1-8 (ESV) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel and say to them, ‘My offering, my food for my food offerings, my pleasing aroma, you shall be careful to offer to me at its appointed time.’ 3 And you shall say to them, This is the food offering that you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a regular offering. 4 The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; 5 also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with a quarter of a hin of beaten oil. 6 It is a regular burnt offering, which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. 7 Its drink offering shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb. In the Holy Place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the Lord. 8 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight. Like the grain offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
RAF: What is interesting here, is that the whole nation (“the people of Israel”) is charged with making sure the daily sacrificial duties which are to be carried out by the Levites – is done. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure the Leadership does not abandon their main responsibilities. This then, even when by their own demands the Leadership is asked to pay attention to some other “needs” the Congregation might deem desirable. As congregants, we are to be vigilant that our ministers give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. See: Acts 6:4.
2 – Numbers 30:2 (ESV) 2 If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
RAF: The instruction here is regarding voluntary vows. We are free to enter into them before the Lord, but we are not free to treat them lightly. Once we have vowed to God to do something, refrain from something, etc. – it carries the force of a command of God to be carried out. Such a passage is a sound and serious rebuke to the careless way even God’s people treat their vows and promises both to Him, and to one another. Marriage vows heads this list. How easily we imagine we can take vows of exclusivity, fidelity, etc., and then behave as if it is nothing before God to violate or abandon them should circumstances change and cease to be to our liking any more. Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 reads: “4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” Consider well before you make vows and promises to God or man. God does not take them lightly. Neither ought we.
3 – Numbers 31:1-2 (ESV) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”
RAF: The Midianites at this time, were suffering for the decisions made by their leadership previously. As citizens of the nations where Christians dwell, it is incumbent that we use what avenues are rightly ours to caution, warn and expose wrong and sinful decisions by those in leadership. No, we do not have a right to unlawful mutiny, nor to bombast, or sinful criticism. But yes, we do have a responsibility to speak to our culture about what is right and wrong in God’s eyes. To not leave them without witness. We will share in the fruit of those decisions. We must ask: will our silence prove to be a tacit approval similar to the cases of the vows in the previous chapter?
4 – Numbers 31:25-31 (ESV) 25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “Take the count of the plunder that was taken, both of man and of beast, you and Eleazar the priest and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the congregation, 27 and divide the plunder into two parts between the warriors who went out to battle and all the congregation. 28 And levy for the Lord a tribute from the men of war who went out to battle, one out of five hundred, of the people and of the oxen and of the donkeys and of the flocks. 29 Take it from their half and give it to Eleazar the priest as a contribution to the Lord. 30 And from the people of Israel’s half you shall take one drawn out of every fifty, of the people, of the oxen, of the donkeys, and of the flocks, of all the cattle, and give them to the Levites who keep guard over the tabernacle of the Lord.” 31 And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.
RAF: Have you won victories in your life over sin? Have you come through trials and temptations, and learned great truths and lessons about our God and His goodness and His provision in His Word and the Spirit? Then you are to share these “spoils” with the rest of God’s people. Both with those who are your peers, and with those under whose leadership you are. Do not keep your victories to yourself. Yes, it is absolutely true God is the One who gave you the victory. And it is also true you were the one engaged in the battle. If you have found victory over some enemy of the faith, some opponent of our souls, others have need of what you have won. The nature of your leaning upon God. The substance of your prayers. The Scriptures that gave you strength and insight and counsel. Do not keep what God has done for you and through you to yourself. Share the spoils with us all. Increase our faith in the telling of God’s great grace.
5 – Numbers 32:1-7 (ESV) Now the people of Reuben and the people of Gad had a very great number of livestock. And they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold, the place was a place for livestock. 2 So the people of Gad and the people of Reuben came and said to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the chiefs of the congregation, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, 4 the land that the Lord struck down before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” 5 And they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan.”
6 But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them?
RAF: There are times when God blesses some with great abundance temporally and in this life. It is incumbent upon such ones to make sure they do not allow their situation now, in any wise to be a deterrent to others fixing their whole hope on the inheritance promised to come – and not here and now. There are to show this by being as engaged in the conquering of sin and the “inhabitants” of Canaan as those whose entire blessing rests there. They are not to be self-satisfied and leave off the very same pursuit and winning of Heaven that any who do not have such advantages here and now are to be about. They are to be as willing to risk their lives for the Kingdom as those who have nothing to lose and everything yet to gain. They are to live in the full reality that anything and everything here, is still short of God’s full promise. They are to be sure to strengthen the resolve of their brethren to press into Canaan as much as if they had no extra advantages here at all. They are not to let God’s graciousnes to them in this place, displace in themselves or any others, the need to take Heaven by violence.