Aaron's Rod that Budded
The timing of this event is a glorious picture of God’s work in the history of mankind. This lesson occurs after a series of sinful events on the part of the people of God. The people are found complaining and lusting (Numbers 11), Miriam and Aaron get caught up in the murmuring (Numbers 12), the spies deliver an evil report (Numbers 13), they fail to enter the land (Numbers 14), and Korah rebels (Numbers 16).
The Rebellion of Korah
We have read and studied so much about rebellion that it is beginning to get old. Imagine how Moses and Aaron must have felt—much less the Lord. God treats rebellion as the greatest of sins (1 Samuel 15:23). It is a terrible accusation to call a people a rebellious generation (Psalm 78:8). Yet, here they go again. How can we detect rebellion in a person; in a people; in a family; in a church? What steps can we take to avoid being rebellious?
Forty Years in the Wilderness
This lesson teaches that sin exacts a heavy toll. It also teaches that one of the worst sins we can commit is to rebel against the known will of God in our lives. The sin of rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23). Examine your own heart and make certain that you are not rebelling against God’s will for you.
Speaking against Moses
One of the most difficult things in dealing with spiritual leaders is knowing how to deal with them when you believe they are wrong. As usual, there are two extremes: you can blindly follow a leader into even sin and heresy (Matthew 23:13-15), or you can rebel against him and bring upon yourself the wrath of God. This lesson gives an example of the second extreme.
Grumblings against God
Consider again the progression of the themes of the five books of Moses. Genesis deals with creation; Exodus with redemption; Leviticus with holiness; Numbers with wilderness wanderings; Deuteronomy with obedience to and the love of God. The order is important. Exodus pictures salvation and Leviticus pictures sanctification. What is the purpose of Numbers? It portrays the importance that various trials have in the growth of the believer. No Christian matures until he or she goes through serious trials and remains faithful to the Lord (Romans 5:3-5; 1 Peter 1:6-7). Unfortunately, Numbers is mostly an illustration of what to avoid doing.
Time to Journey
The time has come for the children of Israel to move forward. The Lord gives a few final instructions, and the children of Israel make their journey into the wilderness of Paran.
The Jewish Feasts
God established seven original annual feasts for the children of Israel as described here in Leviticus 23. Two later feasts were recognized in the Bible. The feast of Purim was established in the book of Esther (Esther 9:20-32). The feast of Hanukkah was established during the time between the testaments but was sanctioned by the New Testament where it was called the feast of dedication (John 10:22).
The Day of Atonement
Nadab and Abihu are dead. By all appearances the situation is hopeless, but it is in this context that the Lord institutes a yearly sacrifice that is meant to atone for the sins of the people. What a glorious sacrifice for the Old Testament saints, and what a glorious picture of “the atonement” (Romans 5:11) that we have found in Jesus Christ.
The Meat Offering
Almost every scholar wants to change the meat offering to something else—although they cannot decide what else. The name is said to be confusing to Bible readers. The meat offering has no animal flesh. In fact, it is the only major offering in which no animals are killed. Why is it called the meat offering? Actually, there are very good reasons for calling it the meat offering.
The Burnt Offering
The Levitical sacrificial system had five separate and distinct offerings that could be made to the Lord. They mark a progression of closeness with the first offering mentioned being the closest to God and the last one being the first step in approaching God. This seemingly backwards approach is not unusual in the Bible. God usually begins from His perspective, not ours. He describes the furniture of the most holy place first and then proceeds to the holy place and the courtyard. He creates heaven and then earth (Genesis 1:1). Notice the following table with the offerings given in reverse order and their symbology explained.Table:>