This devotional is about Numbers 28.
When we think of worship, we think of music*. When the ancient Israelites thought of worship, they thought of the smell of burning meat, grain, oil, and wine.
Music, as a regular element of Israel’s worship, came later in Israel’s history. Sacrificing things to God was the primary way in which Jewish people worshipped him.
This chapter tells us about routine worship offerings. These are different than sin offerings or thank offerings. God commanded sacrifices when someone sinned or when they were thankful or when they had a child. But the offerings described here in Numbers 28 were not offerings presented for an occasion or because someone had sinned. These offerings were presented to the Lord as part of the everyday activity of the temple. In this chapter, we read about:
- Food offerings (vv. 1-8). They were offered twice a day, morning and night (v. 4). Each time they were offered, a lamb was killed and burned thoroughly (v. 3). Grain and flour and olive oil were also offered with the lamb (v. 5) as well as wine (v. 7).
- Sabbath offerings. This was a doubling of the daily food offerings that I just described for you (vv. 9-10).
- Monthly offerings. These were offered at new moon (v. 14) and consisted of extra meat–two young bulls, one ram, and seven year-old male lambs (v. 11), puts the grain, oil, and wine described above (vv. 12-15).
- Passover offerings (vv. 16-25).
- Firstfruits offerings (vv. 26-27).
Food was precious to God’s people. It was hard and expensive to produce but valuable both to have and to sell. Yet God, who does not need food–ever–commanded Israel to offer to him what would have been delicious meals for us humans. This went on twice a day, every day.
Why? Because sacrificing valuable food to God, twice a day, everyday, with extras offered on Saturday and month, showed how God was worth more than the daily food and drink God’s people needed. It not only reminded God’s people that he was worth more than the things they produced and needed but that he must be prioritized over themselves and their families.
Think about how good the temple must have smelled on a daily basis. The smell was “pleasing” to God (v. 2) as an act of worship, but it smelled pretty pleasant, and appetizing, to God’s people, too, like the aroma of a good restaurant smells to us.
This is how Israel worshipped God. They routinely gave to him things that were precious and valuable to them.
We don’t bring sin offerings to God because Christ died for our sins, but we are still commanded to worship God. We give our bodies to serve him in worship as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). We sing and speak praises to him, which Hebrews 12:15 calls “a sacrifice of praise.”
The question I have, after reading this passage is this: Do I routinely give the best of my worship to God? Do I gladly give him my best time and energy to serve? Do I sing loudly, from my heart, to praise and thank him for who he is and what he’s done for me? Do I come to church to worship gladly, every Sunday, and arrive rested and attentive? Or do I drag myself into church after staying up too late on Saturday night.
God deserves the best of our worship just as he deserved and demanded Israel’s best food, not to earn favor with God but because he is great and worthy of our love and our best.
How is the quality of your worship at this point in your life?
* For some Christians, that’s all they think of is music. But Christian worship has more elements than just worship music. Prayer, scripture reading, meditation, and even preaching are elements of Christian worship