Israel’s Calendar, Communal Celebration, and the Cost of Sin

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 8

Moses prepares the “new” generation to enter the land of promise and gives them an annual calendar containing specific dates and sacrificial requirements for those dates: “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation” (Num. 29:1):

Daily: two lambs without defect, a grain offering, a drink offering

Weekly (on the Sabbath): two lambs a year old without defect, a grain offering, a drink offering

Monthly (on the first day of the month): two young bulls without defect, a ram without defect, seven male lambs a year old without defect, a drink offering, a grain offering. One male goat without defect

Annually:

Passover (a week during the first month beginning with the fourteenth day): two young bulls without defect, one ram without defect, seven male lambs a year old without defect, a grain offering

Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (a week of celebration 50 days after Passover): two young bulls without defect, one ram without defect, seven male lambs a year old, a grain offering, a drink offering, one male goat without defect

Feast of Trumpets (10 days during the seventh month):

The first day of the seventh month—one young bull without defect, one ram without defect, seven male lambs a year old without defect, a grain offering

The tenth day of the seventh month—one young bull without defect, seven male lambs without defect, a grain offering, one male goat without defect

The fifteenth day through the twenty-first day of the seventh month—Moses specifies each day’s offerings, which add up to: 70 bulls, 14 rams, 98 male lambs, 7 goats, along with the daily grain and drink offerings

The twenty-second day (eighth day of this Feast—one bull, one ram, seven male lambs, one male goat, a grain offering and a drink offering

Israel’s spiritual livelihood revolves around the sacrificial system. Livestock had to be set aside continually for the sacrificial system. Harvest season revolves around the sacrificial system as it begins and ends with a sacrificial offering.

Israel’s annual calendar teaches a number of truths about the sacrificial system:

  • Sin impacts the community; therefore, communal life revolves around the sacrificial system.
  • Sin impacts the family. In a culture where wealth was measured by holdings in livestock (and eventually land and crops), families had to set aside the unblemished and best animals for the sacrificial system.
  • Sin impacts individuals. The sacrificial system reminds each person of the holiness of God, the seriousness of sin and the cost involved, and God’s good and gracious acceptance of a substitute.
  • Sin is terrible. Its payment is costly. And bloody. And constant: daily, weekly, monthly, annually.

Thank Jesus that He ended the sacrificial system when He entered the heavenly tabernacle as the perfect high priest and offered Himself as the perfect lamb on the eternal mercy seat. Celebration, for those who’ve accepted the atoning work of Christ personally, is constant: daily, weekly, monthly, annually, and eternally! Hallelujah!

Questions from today’s reading (Numbers 27:1-29:40):

What was the basis of Zelophehad’s appeal? What does the outcome reveal about God?

How had God prepared Joshua to lead Israel for the past forty years?

Why was it important that the next generation be reminded of the weekly Sabbath offerings and the annual offerings?