Numbers 7-8: Mercy, Service and Sacrifice
March 4, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Numbers 7-8; Psalm 51; Matthew 22:15-33; Romans 3
The tabernacle, having been completed in terms of its setting up, is now consecrated (7:1) with generous, costly offerings to the Lord by the heads of the tribes of Israel (7:2-3). Chapter 7 details the extent of these offerings as consecration of the tabernacle, and then concludes with a couple of sentences that reveal the significance of what was taking place:
And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him. (Num. 7:89)
The “mercy seat” is the place where blood sacrifice is daubed and where atonement and the necessary sacrifice to approach God’s presence is indicated. At the mercy seat, there is “propitiation” for our sins through the atonement of sacrifice. In the ark is the law, indicating the necessity of purity and obedience to please God and approach him. As no one keeps the law, above the ark there is a “mercy seat.” And it is because of this “mercy” that Moses is able to hear God speak to him.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-25a).
This “propitiation” occurs completely, ultimately, and finally through the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross for those who believe. Service to God, even that of the Levites whose regulations are further described in chapter 8, can only occur through faith in this propitiatory sacrifice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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