Numbers 7 - Offerings to the Lord

The passage

(Num 7 NIV)  When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils. {2} Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of families who were the tribal leaders in charge of those who were counted, made offerings. {3} They brought as their gifts before the LORD six covered carts and twelve oxen--an ox from each leader and a cart from every two. These they presented before the tabernacle. {4} The LORD said to Moses, {5} "Accept these from them, that they may be used in the work at the Tent of Meeting. Give them to the Levites as each man's work requires." {6} So Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites. {7} He gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites, as their work required, {8} and he gave four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites, as their work required. They were all under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest. {9} But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible. {10} When the altar was anointed, the leaders brought their offerings for its dedication and presented them before the altar. {11} For the LORD had said to Moses, "Each day one leader is to bring his offering for the dedication of the altar." {12} The one who brought his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab of the tribe of Judah. {13} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {14} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {15} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {16} one male goat for a sin offering; {17} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Nahshon son of Amminadab. {18} On the second day Nethanel son of Zuar, the leader of Issachar, brought his offering. {19} The offering he brought was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {20} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {21} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {22} one male goat for a sin offering; {23} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Nethanel son of Zuar. {24} On the third day, Eliab son of Helon, the leader of the people of Zebulun, brought his offering. {25} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {26} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {27} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {28} one male goat for a sin offering; {29} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Eliab son of Helon. {30} On the fourth day Elizur son of Shedeur, the leader of the people of Reuben, brought his offering. {31} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {32} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {33} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {34} one male goat for a sin offering; {35} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Elizur son of Shedeur. {36} On the fifth day Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai, the leader of the people of Simeon, brought his offering. {37} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {38} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {39} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {40} one male goat for a sin offering; {41} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai. {42} On the sixth day Eliasaph son of Deuel, the leader of the people of Gad, brought his offering. {43} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {44} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {45} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {46} one male goat for a sin offering; {47} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Eliasaph son of Deuel. {48} On the seventh day Elishama son of Ammihud, the leader of the people of Ephraim, brought his offering. {49} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {50} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {51} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {52} one male goat for a sin offering; {53} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Elishama son of Ammihud. {54} On the eighth day Gamaliel son of Pedahzur, the leader of the people of Manasseh, brought his offering. {55} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {56} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {57} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {58} one male goat for a sin offering; {59} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Gamaliel son of Pedahzur. {60} On the ninth day Abidan son of Gideoni, the leader of the people of Benjamin, brought his offering. {61} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {62} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {63} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {64} one male goat for a sin offering; {65} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Abidan son of Gideoni. {66} On the tenth day Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai, the leader of the people of Dan, brought his offering. {67} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {68} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {69} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {70} one male goat for a sin offering; {71} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. {72} On the eleventh day Pagiel son of Ocran, the leader of the people of Asher, brought his offering. {73} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {74} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {75} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {76} one male goat for a sin offering; {77} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Pagiel son of Ocran. {78} On the twelfth day Ahira son of Enan, the leader of the people of Naphtali, brought his offering. {79} His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; {80} one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; {81} one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; {82} one male goat for a sin offering; {83} and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Ahira son of Enan. {84} These were the offerings of the Israelite leaders for the dedication of the altar when it was anointed: twelve silver plates, twelve silver sprinkling bowls and twelve gold dishes. {85} Each silver plate weighed a hundred and thirty shekels, and each sprinkling bowl seventy shekels. Altogether, the silver dishes weighed two thousand four hundred shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel. {86} The twelve gold dishes filled with incense weighed ten shekels each, according to the sanctuary shekel. Altogether, the gold dishes weighed a hundred and twenty shekels. {87} The total number of animals for the burnt offering came to twelve young bulls, twelve rams and twelve male lambs a year old, together with their grain offering. Twelve male goats were used for the sin offering. {88} The total number of animals for the sacrifice of the fellowship offering came to twenty-four oxen, sixty rams, sixty male goats and sixty male lambs a year old. These were the offerings for the dedication of the altar after it was anointed. {89} When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him.

This passage is boring because it contains:

12 identical lists of offerings from all 12 tribes
Names of all the leaders of the 12 tribes
Totaling of the gifts from all 12 tribes

What can we learn from this boring passage?

Anointing and consecration turns the ordinary to the extra-ordinary

(Num 7:1 NIV)  When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils.

After Moses had completed supervising the construction and erection of the sacred tent and its altar, he anointed and consecrated them for the Lord's special services. The verb "anoint" is the same term used for the anointing of special persons. The second verb used of the dedication rites is "consecrated." It is a declarative action, to be noted by those present that the tabernacle and its furnishings and the altar and its implements were no longer common items but were now marked out as special, distinct, and other. The common was now sacred, the ordinary was now set apart to the worship of God. (Source: NIV Bible Commentary)

When we receive the Lord’s anointing, we begin to do extra-ordinary things.

Read more about being anointed for power to do God’s work.

The 12 tribes are equal

One cannot read the list and not be aware that the 12 tribes gave to the Lord identical offerings. It is a graphic depiction that the children of Israel are equal in God’s eyes.

This may seem like a simple fact to grasp but in reality it is not. We tend to think that we are better than others. We want to think that God loves us more than other “sinners”. We fall into the Pharisee trap sometimes.

(Luke 18:10-12 NIV)  "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. {12} I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

We need to realize that God loves everyone the same. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…

God’s love is for the whole world. And His love is expressed in the most superlative way when He sent His only Son. There is no greater love than for one to lay down his life for another. That means that when God sent His Son, He expressed maximum love to every single person on this earth.

Realizing this fact, we have no right to be conceited thinking we are more favored by God.

The reverse can also be true. Some may think that God loves other people more than them. That is not true. God has maximum love for everyone. We need to live our lives in realization that God loves us as much as He loves others.

Holiness of the altar of burnt offering

Is there something special about the altar that makes it necessary to perform twelve offerings at its dedication? The altar of burnt offering was made of wood covered with bronze. It stood in the courtyard outside the tabernacle, where burnt offerings were offered upon it daily to the Lord. It contains no precious metals and it could be approached by the common people.

Yet the altar was given the highest honor. Twice, the Lord calls it most holy, using a Hebrew expression that means holiness of holiness. The phrase is used 24 times in the first five books of Moses, and more than half of them refer to the bronze altar and the things offered on it. Why would God describe the bloody (and probably smelly) altar with the same words He used for the Holy of Holies, a place too sacred for even the priests to approach? Why would He call it and its offerings “most holy” more often than He uses that expression for all other sacred objects and offerings combined?

ALTAR is a structure used in worship as the place for presenting sacrifices to God or gods. The Hebrew word for altar that is used most frequently in the Old Testament is formed from the verb for slaughter and means literally, "slaughter place." Altars were used primarily as places of sacrifice, especially animal sacrifice. Both the altar of the tabernacle and that of Ezekiel are described as having horns. The horns of the altar were the place where blood from a sacrificial animal was applied for atonement from sin (for example, Ex. 29:12; Lev. 4:7). (Source: Holman Dictionary)

The focus in the chapter is on the tabernacle, the "dwelling place of God," and the altar, the point of approach to God's dwelling. The way to approach God is through the symbolism of the animal sacrifices on the altar place. The animal sacrifices point to Jesus who would offer Himself to atone for our sins.

(John 1:29 NIV)  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

We can never approach God with our own holiness. We have to rely on the lamb of God Jesus because the altar of sacrifice alone is the holy of holies.

Besides having implications on our salvation, the altar as the means to approach the dwelling place of God also has implications for the way we approach God in our daily lives.

When we pray to God, do we feel that God should answer our prayers because we have been living our lives right? Do we feel that we are holy enough to deserve God answering our prayers?

Remember that the way to approach God is through the Lamb of God even in our prayers. By ourselves, we have nothing that deserves God’s attention. But when we pray in Jesus’ name we can ask for great things and receive it.

(John 15:16 NIV)  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.