Joshua Israel's new leader. Eleazer the priest charges him with leading the Israelites.

Day 67 (March 8): Rights to Inherit land, Joshua chosen as next Israelite leader, offering rules

Wong Chim Yuen

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

 Today’s Reading
Numbers 27-29
(1407 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (Numbers 27:8): I never really thought about this before, but now that I have, it’s noteworthy: God saw the importance in every being, that each one should be remembered and acknowledged — here, with land.  It isn’t just that because someone didn’t have sons that they should not have an inheritance.

Q. (27:18): Here God mentions that Joshua has the “Spirit” in him.  Does God explain anywhere thus far what he means by that?

A.  It appears to be some form of reference to the Holy Spirit at work in Joshua, but no, it is not expanded further.

Q. (28:3-8): I think this is the first time God has asked for an alcoholic drink to be offered?  Also, if there were two lambs sacrificed every day, is this meat for the priests to eat?  Or is it just burned for God?

A. You are correct, this is the first instance of an alcoholic beverage asked for, and the meat here did go to the priests.

Q. Day 55 talks about these occasions.  Why are the offerings not included in the earlier descriptions?

A. I don’t really have a good answer for that.  It is simply the way it is presented.

Q. I don’t think we’ve talked about if there are reasons God asks for certain animals to be offered — ram, bull, lamb, goat, etc.?

A. These animals, and some domestic birds (doves, etc.) are the domestic animals that the Israelites have in their flocks/herds.  Each of these animals has been declared clean (what Jews today call “kosher”) by God, and this appears to be the reason He selects them for His sacrifices.  Those basically were the only animals they kept!

Q. (28:16): This festival lasts for seven days.  Of course there are the offerings, but does the Bible tell what other activities comprise a festival?  I think of our festivals now — none that I can think of lasts for seven days — but I doubt they have much in common.

A. You can read about many of the traditions that have come to be associated with the festivals, and sometimes in the narrative story of the OT you get some insight into what went on, but generally, no, there is not much information on the celebratory aspects of the Holy Days.  I would suggest outside reading — even the Wikipedia page — for each of the festivals to learn more about them, but we will see some festivals/rituals described in later texts.

Q. (29:12-40): Any reason God would single out this festival by requiring a greater number of sacrifices?  I can’t imagine making all of these sacrifices on one altar.  Just preparing them would take long enough and then offering them properly.

A. This particular festival (also described in Lev. 23) appears to be agricultural in nature, which might explain it.  This festival, today known as Sukkot, will come in subsequent books to be associated with the reading the entire Law every seventh year (its coming in Deuteronomy 31), so this would have been treated as both an important religious day as well.  Those are basically guesses, however.  I don’t really have a certain answer to this question.

For further reading: More about Sukkot at https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4784/jewish/What-Is-Sukkot.htm

Shop: The leader of today’s church is Jesus Christ.  We are to follow His wondrous example.  https://livinlight.org/product/teacher-t-shirt/

Tomorrow’s reading: Numbers 30-31

Priestly conduct Because of their carelessness, two of Aaron's sons who were priests, Nadab and Abihu, died after burning incense in a way that God had not instructed.

Day 50 (Feb. 19): Priests start work, Aaron’s sons sin, priest conduct explained, ceremonially clean, unclean animals

The Jewish Museum / A gift of the heirs of Jacob Schiff

Woohoo!  Day 50, can you believe it? We have read about 14 percent of the Bible and have learned so much.

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Leviticus 9-11
(1445 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Leviticus 9:23, 24): Looks like the sacrifices offer another benefit: God coming down to show His glory and power.  The fire of God would also be like a victory appearance for the Israelites: seeing that God is powerful, listening, watching … in control.  The words “gratification” and “reassurance” also come to mind.  Did I read this correctly?

A. Yes, that’s the idea.  God is reminding the people of His power, and it won’t be the last time He uses fire to consume an offering.

Q. (10:1-3): I guess this is a way of saying “pay attention.”  We have to give God the benefit of the doubt that they were not taking God seriously and didn’t just make an honest mistake?  I noticed Aaron was silent.  This must have been very hard for him!  Just a comment in 10:6, I can’t imagine being told not to mourn the death of two children!

A. As far as I can tell, it goes a bit further than “pay attention”: Aaron’s sons were careless with the incense of God, and were struck dead for their carelessness.  It is an important thought for us to remember as well: though we are in good relationship with God through the work of Christ, we should be very careful about trivializing the things of God.

Q. (10:19): So Aaron’s apology to Moses served as repentance, which spared the lives of Aaron’s remaining two sons and possibly Aaron himself?

A. I don’t think Aaron is apologizing for his actions: he says specifically in this verse that he is mourning his son’s deaths by fasting, which is why he didn’t eat the meat.  He is explaining to Moses why he did not fulfill his duties, especially since Moses is right: they cannot leave the Tabernacle until their work is done.  I think God was clear on Aaron’s reasons, which is why it appears that Aaron wasn’t in danger, but this verse is about explaining Aaron’s actions to Moses and the audience.

Q. (11:1-44): Can you tell us why all of these rules about what they can and can’t eat?  Why are split hooves and chewing the cud important?  God says many of these animals that he says are ceremonially unclean are detestable, but he created them.  Can you explain that?

A. There is not a lot of rhyme or reason to the list.  There are some people who think that some animals were on the “unclean” list for health reasons (cows, which are permitted, are generally cleaner animals than pigs, for example) but this is difficult to substantiate or find any consistent logic in.  Basically, what we should take away from the list is that this particular list should be seen as separating the people from all of the other nations around them, which very likely didn’t have any dietary restrictions or perhaps had different ones.  The guidelines allowed the people to be set apart for the work of God, so don’t get to worried about the particular habits — chewing the cud — or animal types — birds — that were permissible to eat.

Q. Can you tell us something about why the Jewish community still follows these laws?  And Christians don’t because we are under a new law.  But, like other things in the OT, many laws are covered by the New Covenant and thus are still practiced.  So, would God be more pleased with us if we would follow these consumption laws or do we just trust God that Jesus sacrifice made these “ceremonially clean” laws null and void?

A. As we’ve discussed, the line between the Old (Jewish) and New (Christian) Covenants is one of legalism (old) verses freedom (new).  Under the New Covenant, we are not required to keep the Law for the purposes of salvation.  The Old covenant is the epitome of legalism: Jews must rely on their own actions — and the actions of the priests — in order to assure their good standing with God (though Judaism has its faith elements as well).  But with Christianity, we have moved beyond the old system into the new, which says that we are free to keep the rules of the OT where they benefit us, but we do not HAVE to.  Since we are not under that system, no amount of keeping the kosher laws or other restrictions makes us “better” or “loved more” in God’s sight: we are loved outside of our actions, and saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) alone.  So if we as a community see value in keeping some of the rules — say the 10 Commandments— we can follow them, but we are not obligated to.

One of the things Jesus talked about in His earthly ministry is that to sum up the Law, you should love God, and love your neighbor (Luke 10:26-28).  So that should be the lens with which we approach the Law as Christians: does following a command to not eat pork adversely affect my walk with God?  (And for some people, the answer is probably “yes”)  If so, then I should not do it.  If not, then it is probably okay, but we should still seek the Spirit’s guidance in “gray areas”.  How about loving neighbor?  Does committing adultery destroy not just my marriage, but likely other families as well?  If the answer is yes, then again, I should not do it, out of love for my neighbor, not to mention my spouse.  While we know that certain things are clearly off limits — murder, lying, etc. — the new way does have the drawback of giving us a lot more “gray” than black and white, so to speak.  So in the New Covenant, we have the freedom to do as we please, with the understanding that we must be discerning — which frankly can be harder than simply having rules — in what actions we take and how they will be seen by others (see 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 for Paul’s discussion of Christian freedom and discerning choices).

(From Leigh An: Wanting a little more background to this last passage that Rob mentioned, I read all of 1 Corinthians 10 and enjoyed the whole message.  I can’t wait for the NT!)

For further understanding: What does clean and unclean animals mean? https://www.spokengospel.com/devotionals/leviticus-11#video

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Tommorow’s reading: Leviticus 12-14:32

Tabernacle offerings. All offerings from the tribes of Israel to the Tabernacle where God resided were laid on a silver platter.

Day 46 (Feb. 15): Offerings for the Tabernacle dedication

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

If you have been reading along, congrats, you have finished Exodus!  That’s three books down.  Today we start a new book, Numbers (actually Numbers 9:15-23 was yesterday).  Because we are reading chronologically, soon, the text will be flopping back and forth between Numbers and Leviticus.  For background information about Numbers, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/numbers/ and for Leviticus, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/leviticus/.  We will be referring to this link before every new book to provide information about the author, time it was written, and other scene-setting material.

Today’s Reading
Numbers 7:1-89
(1445 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Numbers 7:10): I would imagine that the Tabernacle looked like a treasure storehouse after all of these gifts.  These gifts were presented and remained right outside the Tabernacle?  All the animals were sacrificed?

A. I’m not sure where things were “stored”, but yes, they were presented outside the Tabernacle.  Yes, the poor animals were sacrificed.

Q. The silver offerings were just a matter of what each was sacrificing?  Did the grain symbolize anything?

A. They are part of the grain offering, which will be explored in Leviticus.

Q. Incense?  Just an aroma pleasing to God?  Was it used for cleansing at all?

A. Incense was used to generate pleasant aromas (you can imagine all the sacrifices would smell bad), but I don’t think it was used in a cleaning manner.  The smoke of burning incense has come to represent the presence of the Spirit of God, and I suspect they would have thought of it in this way as well.

Q. What is the difference between a burnt offering a sin offering and peace offering?

A. Honestly, this is one place where I disagree with the order of the presentation of the material.  If we were reading the books in the order they were put together, we would see already what the different types of offerings were and what they were used for.

Hang in there: the first few chapters of Leviticus make it very clear about the five or so types of offerings, so this is an answer I will defer until we’ve reached the relevant materials.

Q. Any significance to the 12 offerings of platters, basins and containers other than it stood for the 12 tribes?  Is there any reason God chose 12 tribes other than that’s how many son’s Jacob had?  How about significance of 60?

A. 12 is a Biblical number of completeness, though I confess I suspect the reason we see it as such is because of the number of tribes (and also the number of Jesus’ disciples in the NT) is 12.  Basically, 12 became a symbolic number of completeness for Jews because there were 12 tribes of Israel, rather than 12 already being a symbol of completeness that just happened to be the number of sons Jacob had.

Q. Why are the offerings all the same?

A. I would presume so that each of the tribes would be equally invested in the Tabernacle, and everyone would have some “skin in the game” as it were.

Tomorrow’s reading: Numbers 8-9:14; Leviticus 1-3:17

All things Tabernacle. Tabernacle of the Israelites while they were wondering in the desert.

Day 40 (Feb. 9): Tabernacle offerings, blueprints for Ark of the Covenant, table, lampstand, Tabernacle, altar, courtyard, light, priests’ apparel

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Exodus 25-28
(1446 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 25:1-40): Do we learn anything from God’s instructions on how to construct the Ark?  Is it just that God knows what he wants to be comfortable?  Any significance to the cherubim?  Also, I notice that 27 inches is repeated many times.

A. God is asking His people to sacrifice in order to create a place of gathering that will serve His people for the next several decades.  The Tabernacle will dwell within the center of the community — putting God in the midst of His people — and will be a point of gathering.  The items requested would have made a beautiful gathering — which was very functional as well, it could be folded together and loaded up any time — that would have served the entire community.

I think we’re on the wrong track when we think of God desiring “comfort” as though He wanted a Lay-Z-boy to recline in.  This is not an incarnational presence, like Jesus.  This is the presence of God becoming the literal center of the tribes while they are in the wilderness.  We will see how the instructions for the ark and tabernacle will come into play as we move along, but watch for the importance of the poles and rings when it comes time to move.  There is a very special reason for the rings and poles on the ark.

The cherubs — a name for what we think is a classification of angel, but no one knows for sure — were seen in the OT as symbolic attendants to the throne of God, what we call the mercy seat, the cover to the ark.  And in a throne room, the attendees of a king would have been at his left and right.

Don’t pay much attention to the dimensions, if for no other reason than the NLT uses modern units to help us more clearly understand the dimensions of the items being built.  If you look at the NIV or King James, they give the units in “cubits” rather than feet and inches.  For reference, a cubit equals 1.5 feet, or 1 foot, six inches.  Obviously, there were no “inches” and “feet” as measures in ancient times, and generally there were very few standards of measure.

Q. (28:6): Is there any significance to the thread colors chosen — blue, purple and scarlet?

A. Yes.  These colors were symbolic of royalty and were incredibly expensive.  Like the gold and jewels for the task, God is seeking the best that His people have to offer.  He is requesting them to sacrifice in this instance, as one would do for a human monarch.

Q. We see this lavishness that God commands for himself.  No question, he deserves it all.  I just wondered what kind of philosophy the Bible says churches should have when building their places of worship.  Some churches are lavish, others are basically four walls and a roof.  I have had the mindset that if churches spend a lot on their buildings, they are not using their money wisely.  They could be using it for missions.  But, then, are they showing disrespect for God by not having the best possible place of worship?

A. You’ve obviously asked a complicated question, as you can tell by the various ways that churches and individuals have answered it.  Some churches are much more comfortable with “four walls and a roof” (I’m thinking of the of those pre-fab metal roofed churches that you see in rural areas), while others (I’m thinking of an absolutely amazing Catholic Basilica I visited in St. Louis) desire to create real beauty and glorify God through craftsmanship.  I think that both decisions honor God in different ways: we can say, “Lord be glorified by this place” or “Lord be glorified by what we will do within this place” and be perfectly right in both cases.  In this instance, God required the people to sacrifice their best in order to create something that would benefit everyone in the community.  Overall, I would say there is no one “right” way to build a building for God — unless He gives you one as He did here — and we must be discerning to what God desires of us.

Q. I shouldn’t say this, but this reading is a yawner.  Not much action.  But, I do glean several things from it.  1) There are things made for Aaron’s attire that will remind him who he is, a representative to all the people of Israel.  2) God asks for a beautiful place to dwell among the people.  I would love to see it!!!  3) Anything else I’m missing?

A. Seems like you’ve got the general idea.  The instructions given here are just the groundwork: we will still see these things built later in Exodus, and put into action in the next few stories.  So hang in there.

If you (or anyone else) wants to see what this would have looked like, I find that there are various groups on the internet who have built life-size replicas.  Like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stiftshuette_Modell_Timnapark.jpg

For further study: What is the significance of the Ark of the Covenant? https://www.compellingtruth.org/What-Ark-of-the-Covenant.html

Tomorrow’s Reading: Exodus 25-28