Monday, 7 March 2011

Death and New Life

Observations on Numbers 15-17

The observant will notice there's no provision of forgiveness for deliberate sin. Unintentional sins, yes, but not willful ones. These are the kind of sins that vex the Psalmist and they pose a problem for stubborn people like me. Does this mean that when I deliberately disobey a command of God, that there is no forgiveness? If that's true then only the most spiritual Christians will be in heaven, and I know me well enough to know that I don't rank in that category! I'm no Martin Luther or Brother Yun! Abandon all hope now!! Give up this religious charade!!

Take heart, all is not lost. Confession is the road to healing. Just as in the British legal system if you confess your guilt, you receive a lesser sentence, so too, in the world of the Bible, the act of confession reduces a willful (or high-handed) sin to the status of an unintentional sin, for which there is atonement. The reason that deliberate sins are not forgivable, is not because they are too great for the grace of God to cope with, but because the person refuses to confess, renounce and repent of them.

The Sabbath breaker is stoned to death, because he is deliberately starting a new fire, in direct contravention of the command, exalting his fire above the fire of God at the tabernacle.

Tassels on garments, perhaps an early version of fish on cars! ;-)

Once again there is insolence in the camp. The irony is that they should have known that they should not be offering their own fire to God in the censers, especially after the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. The fact that they agreed to this showed how ridiculously arrogant (and unholy) they had become.

If you read the rest of the chapter too quickly, it sounds as if the children of these rebels end up unfairly suffering (dying) due to their fathers' arrogance. But Moses' command to Israel to come away from their tents applies equally to any in the family as to the rest of the nation. And indeed Korah's sons do disown their wicked father. They are later responsible for penning some of the Psalms. God is not unjust in his dealings with people, but faithfulness to him trumps all other ties and is rewarded.

No sooner has the ground licked its lips, the people are blaming Moses and Aaron again for all this (coincidental?) calamity! So the staffs of all the tribal leaders are brought and placed in front of the Tabernacle.  Aaron's buds into an almond tree, confirming that he (and the levites under him) are the ones chosen by God to lead the people in all matters of a theocratic nature.

Aaron's staff, the staff of the High Priest, is placed back in the Tabernacle, in front of the Ark. A picture of how the Tree of Life - the Staff of Jesus our great High Priest will stand before the Throne of God in the New Creation. A tree appointed by the Father, planted by the Son and made fruitful by the Spirit.

Those who follow the Spirit will eat from it forever.

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