This is the website for Little Rock Scripture Study at St. Anthony of Padua, Fresno, California.

As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55: 10-11.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book of Numbers, Chapter 7

One of the challenges of reading Numbers is the great amount of repetition. The other is simply trying to understand what it's all about. This morning I'm finding myself especially challenged by Numbers 7, which lists the various offerings given at the dedication of the tabernacle. As our Little Rock Scripture Study guide notes, this chapter is a "flashback."

After the offering of the oxen and carts, each tribal leader brings exactly the same offering. Every offering of an Israelite was for a specific purpose. We can learn from Numbers to more particularly understand, through the Hebrew offering system, our relationship with God.

Offerings of the Tribal Leaders:

Grain Offering: One silver plate weighing 130 shekels, etc.
Burnt Offering: one gold cup of ten shekels weight filled with incense, etc.
Purification Offering: one goat
Communion Sacrifice: two bulls, five rams, five he-goats, five yearling lambs.

The following links are to a very Protestant website, but one which has provides some valuable help:

Grain Offering:I looked for help with what this is all about, and found the following exhaustive (exhausting?) link of grain offerings: The Grain Offering from Here, Bob Deffinbaugh argues (convincingly, to me) that the purpose of the grain offering is to remind an agricultural community (which Israel will become) of its dependence on God for grain, and to put trust in God by offering some of that grain back. This is very close to the rule that manna is not to be stored for the next day, but that for each day, the Israelites are to have faith that God will give them what they need. One of the ways we develop trust in God is to give sacrificially. That's what this is about. (Dependence upon God)

Burnt Offering:
With regard to the burnt offering, Deffinbaugh offers another very scholarly article: Burnt Offering at The purpose of the burnt offering is to make atonement for the sin of the offerer. Christ now occupies to us the place of the burnt offering, having fully atoned for the sins of mankind on the cross. The burnt offering in the OT symbolizes the Israelite faith that God has made provision for their sins. Quoting Deffinbach: "The burnt offing symbolized the Old Testament saint's faith in God, and his intention to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love his neighbor as himself. (Atonement)

Purification (Sin) Offering: 
While a burnt offering is an offering for sin in general, the purification offering is for a specific, defined sin, one which was unintentional but came to consciousness over time. How can sin be unintentional? That might be a good topic for discussion tonight.

Communion Sacrifice (Deffinbaugh calls this "the Fellowship Offering" in the KJV it is the "Peace Offering"):
The communion offering was eaten by the people for whom it was offered on the day it was sacrificed or on the day after. (All meat eaten by Israel that came from cattle--oxen, lambs, or goats--was offered as a communion sacrifice: think about that the next time you have a hamburger! See Leviticus 17:3--4) The communion sacrifice accomplished much of what the Eucharist accomplishes--it's purpose was to knit the Hebrews together as one people, as the Eucharist unites the members of the Church as the Body of Christ. (Peace with God. Philippians 4.7: "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.")

Prayer of Gratitude, Saint Richard of Chichester (1198-1253):

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits and blessings which you have given me, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for me. Merciful Friend, Brother and Redeemer, may I know yo more clearly, love you more dearly, and following you more nearly, day by day. Amen

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