Numbers 15

Numbers 15 shows us just how important obedience is in God’s eyes.  He begins by talking with Moses about how the people are to act when they enter their new land.  The spies may have been unsure of their ability to enter, but God certainly isn’t.  Twice He says “When you come into the land you are to inhabit”.  In God’s eyes, it has already happened – it is a done deal – and they are moving into a new home.  God defines how they are to sacrifice and honor Him when they come to their new home.  And he makes it clear that this applies to everyone.  “You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you”.

There is a discussion with Moses about how to address “unintentional sin” for those who “do not observe all these commandments that the Lord has spoken to Moses”.  The bottom line is that we can certainly miss the mark unintentionally according to this passage.  We fail to follow God’s direction or do it incorrectly.  The law applies to everyone and God is clear that all are under it.  “You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally”.  God doesn’t expect just obedience from His people, but all equally and all fall under the same punishment if they fail to obey.

Here is where the attitude changes.  God addresses those who intentionally sin and do what they want.  They choose to disobey.  “But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people”.  If you make an intentional choice to obey God, the stakes go up considerably.  “Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him”.  The penalty goes from requiring a sacrifice and some intervention from the priest if you disobey unintentionally to being cut off and punished if you disobey God with intent.

To that end, “they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day”.  Sounds pretty innocent doesn’t it?  But it is a direct violation of God’s law of the Sabbath.  And the punishment is severe.  “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp”.  Sin carries a big price tag.  We often tend to downplay it, but God doesn’t see sin that way.  Our disobedience is serious business which is why He sent Jesus to the Cross for us.

So God instructs the people to find a way to remember just how important sin is in His eyes.  “Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner”.  We need a reminder to keep us aware of our sin problem.  God gives them a way – “it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes”.  We tend to be just like the people of Israel – short memory when it comes to obeying what God has said.  We are charged with the same command – to obey God.  “So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God”.  Are you obeying God?  Are you aware of His commandments and direction in your life?  It’s serious business!

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