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Service Archives > 04 Numbers - 2013 > Numbers 18:21-19:22

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Numbers 18:21-19:22
Skip Heitzig

Numbers 18 (NKJV™)
21 "Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.
22 "Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die.
23 "But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
24 "For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.'"
25 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
26 "Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: 'When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the LORD, a tenth of the tithe.
27 'And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress.
28 'Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the LORD from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the LORD'S heave offering from it to Aaron the priest.
29 'Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the LORD, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.'
30 "Therefore you shall say to them: 'When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress.
31 'You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting.
32 'And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.'"
Numbers 19 (NKJV™)
1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
2 "This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD has commanded, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come.
3 'You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him;
4 'and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood seven times directly in front of the tabernacle of meeting.
5 'Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight: its hide, its flesh, its blood, and its offal shall be burned.
6 'And the priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet, and cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer.
7 'Then the priest shall wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening.
8 'And the one who burns it shall wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening.
9 'Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin.
10 'And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the children of Israel and to the stranger who dwells among them.
11 'He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days.
12 'He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.
13 'Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him.
14 'This is the law when a man dies in a tent: All who come into the tent and all who are in the tent shall be unclean seven days;
15 'and every open vessel, which has no cover fastened on it, is unclean.
16 'Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.
17 'And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel.
18 'A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.
19 'The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean.
20 'But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.
21 'It shall be a perpetual statute for them. He who sprinkles the water of purification shall wash his clothes; and he who touches the water of purification shall be unclean until evening.
22 'Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the person who touches it shall be unclean until evening.'"

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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04 Numbers - 2013

In this study of Numbers, we continue to look into the duties of the Levitical priests and learn about the laws of purification. As we partake in Communion, we see how this text points to Christ and learn how He has fulfilled the Law.

Numbers is a book with two themes: Israel's failure and God's faithfulness. As we consider Israel's desert wanderings, we learn what can happen when people refuse to believe God's promises, and we are challenged to walk humbly with our ever-faithful Lord.

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Study Guide

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Numbers 17-19

PREVIEW: In Numbers 17-19, the Lord reconfirms His selection of the priestly leadership and clarifies the duties of the priest and their provision and tithes. The Lord establishes the laws of purification to keep His children clean from the frequent death being experienced in the wilderness.

The Budding of Aaron’s Rod - Read Numbers 17:1-13

1. Aaron’s priestly authority had been challenged (see Numbers 16). Now the Lord would make it clear to all the people whom He had chosen for the priestly ministry. What did the Lord instruct Moses to collect from each of the tribes? What were they to do with those items (see vv. 1-4)?


2. A rod is a symbol of authority and power. The rods were simply sticks, dead wood, onto which the Israelites wrote the name of each tribal representative and placed into the tabernacle of meeting. What would be the sure indication that the Lord had selected a specific man from among all the twelve representatives (see v. 5)?



3. What was the Lord’s purpose in having them place the rods before Him in the tabernacle of meeting (see v. 5)?


4. Moses spoke to the people and the leaders brought forth their rods (see v. 6). Where precisely did Moses place the rods (see vv. 4, 7)? What was significant about this position (see v. 4)? (See Exodus 25:22.)



5. The next day, Moses went into the tabernacle and Aaron’s rod had budded. Not only did it bud, but what else did this dead stick bring forth (see v. 8)?



6. Each year the almond tree is the first tree to bring forth fruit in the region of Israel. How is this rod that budded a picture of Jesus Christ? (See Isaiah 11:1-2, Matthew 12:38-40, 1 Corinthians 15:4, 20–23, and 1 Thessalonians 4:14.)



7. What became of Aaron’s rod that budded (see v. 10)? (See also Hebrews 9:4.)


8. Upon seeing the rod of Aaron, the children of Israel overreacted. What was their response (see vv. 12-13)? Why might they have reacted this way? (See Numbers 16:32, 49.)



Duties of Priests and Levites - Read Numbers 18:1-7

9. Having the role of a priest carried many blessings, but also a great deal of responsibilities. What did the Lord say to Aaron about the responsibilities that were laid upon him and his sons (see v. 1)?



10. Although the responsibility laid upon Aaron and his sons was great, they didn’t have to shoulder all the workload themselves. Who was assigned to assist them (see v. 2)?



11. All priests were Levites, but not all the Levites were priests. The entire tribe was assigned to serve the priests as the priests served the Lord by serving the people. What was the role of the Levites who were not priests (see vv. 3-4)? What was the restriction of the Levites who were not priests (see v. 3)?



12. The work of Aaron and his sons provided spiritual value to the children of Israel. What was that spiritual value (see v. 5)?



13. Aaron and his sons were assigned a significant role in the camp of the children of Israel, which came with a significant amount of responsibility and work. How were they to look upon the remainder of the Levites who were not sons of Aaron (see v. 6)?



14. How were Aaron and his sons to look upon the duties assigned to them (see v. 7)?


Offerings for Support of the Priests - Read Numbers 18:8-20

15. Although offerings made by the children of Israel were given to the Lord, to whom did the Lord give them (see v. 8)? What were they to do with them (see v. 10)?



16. The heave and wave offerings were given to the Lord, and the Lord gave them to the tribe of Levi (see v. 11). All of the best of the oil, wine, grain, fruit (see vv. 12-13), and clean animals (see v. 15)—every devoted thing—was theirs (v. 14). Who in the tribe of Levi would have been restricted from partaking of these (see vv. 11, 13)?



17. Although the firstborn of both man and unclean beasts were dedicated to the Lord and were given to Aaron and his sons, they had to be redeemed (see v. 15). Explain why they had to be redeemed. How were they redeemed (see v. 16)?



18. Cows, sheep, and goats were clean animals and were used in the offerings made to the Lord. What was done to these animals as they were offered to the Lord and given to Aaron and his sons (see vv. 17-18)?



19. A covenant of salt was symbolic of an enduring covenant because salt is durable and doesn’t break down under heat. The covenant of divine provision between the Lord and Aaron and his descendants was forever. Name and describe another covenant of salt the Lord made. (See 2 Chronicles 13:5.)


20. When the tribe of Levi entered into the Promised Land, they were not going to receive land as an inheritance (see v. 20), land which they could grow produce and cattle, and provide an income for themselves. Explain how the Lord made provision for the tribe of Levi (see vv. 8-20). What was the true inheritance for Aaron and his sons (see v. 20)?


Tithes for Support of the Levites - Read Numbers 18:21-24

21. The entire tribe of Levi was dedicated to serving in the tabernacle and would receive no land as an inheritance. Their provision would come directly from the Lord via a covenant of salt. The word salary is from the Middle English word salaire, from the Latin word salarium: a payment made in salt (sal) or for salt, from salaries, meaning pertaining to salt. What did the Levites receive as a salary for their work in the tabernacle (see v. 21)?



22. Approaching the tabernacle was restricted to the Levites alone. What would happen if a non-Levite came near to the tabernacle (see v. 22)?


The Tithe of the Levites - Read Numbers 18:25-32

23. The Levites, too, were to offer a tithe from their provision. What did their tithe consist of (see v. 27)? Where could the priests eat their offerings (see v. 31)?



Laws of Purification - Read Numbers 18:1-22

24. According to estimates, over 1,078,000 Israelites (600,000 men, 400,000 women, 45,000 Levite men, 33,000 Levite women, plus adults among the mixed multitude) died during the 38 years of wilderness wandering. Using a 360-day year, an average of 78 people died every day. Death was a constant factor in the wilderness; therefore, these laws of purification were established. What type of animal is used to establish this purification (see v. 2)?



25. Eleazar the priest took the animal outside the camp to have it slaughtered (unlike typical burnt offerings) (see v.3). What did he do with the blood of the animal (see v. 4)? What did he do with the remainder of the animal (see v. 5)?



26. Cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet wool were added as the animal was consumed by fire. These three materials were also used in the ritual of purification of skin disease (see Leviticus 14:1–9). Although this sacrifice was intended to purify, people involved in the slaughter (see v. 7), burning (see v. 8) and collecting of ashes (see v.10) were all made unclean until evening. What was done with the ashes of the animal (see v. 9)?



27. What was the intended purpose of the ashes gathered from this animal (see v. 9)?



28. With an average of 78 people dying in the camp daily, becoming unclean by touching a dead body was likely a regular occurrence. How did the unclean person purify himself (see vv. 11-12)?



29. The penalty for not purifying oneself after becoming unclean by touching a dead body was stiff. What was that penalty (see vv. 12-13)?



30. If a person were to die in his tent, what did his dead body make unclean? How was it made clean again (see vv. 14-19)?



31. What happened if an unclean person chose not to purify himself according to the Laws of Purification (see v. 20)?



32. During the allotted time of uncleanness, what became of the objects that the unclean person touched (see v. 22)?



33. How is a follower of Christ purified from ongoing sin that results from being among the dead things of this world? (See John 13:10, 15:3, Ephesians 5:26, and 1 John 1:8-10.)


Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. The new covenant of Christ is based upon the old covenant promises that the Messiah would come
      1. Communion is based on Passover, or pesach in Hebrew
      2. Passover involved the breaking of bread and drinking of wine
      3. Jesus took the element that His Jewish disciples understood and made the utmost significance out of it
      4. Luke 22:19
    2. We need to know what the old covenant says because so much of the New Testament is based upon it
    3. The Torah, or Tanakh in Hebrew
      1. Genesis is the book of beginnings and wonder
      2. Exodus is the book of witness, redemption, and revelation
      3. Leviticus is the book of worship: the way to God through sacrifice and the walk with God through sanctification
      4. Numbers is the book of wandering
        1. Almost forty years total
        2. "How to turn a two-week trip into a forty-year trial"; Deuteronomy 1:2
        3. The chronology of these forty years isn't all written down
        4. Numbers 16-19 is all about the priesthood and its validation
  2. Numbers 18:21-32
    1. Hebrews 5:4
    2. Genesis 34—the iniquity of the tribe of Levi
      1. Dinah, daughter of Jacob, violated by Shechem
      2. Levi and Simeon kill all of the males in the city of Shechem
      3. Jacob speaks on his deathbed: Genesis 49:5-7
      4. Consequently, the tribes of Simeon and Levi become two of the smallest and least significant in the nation
    3. The gold calf incident (see Exodus 32)
      1. Moses draws a line and says, "Whoever is on the Lord's side—come to me!" (v. 26)
      2. The tribe of Levi immediately goes to him
      3. The Lord makes them the priestly tribe
    4. Tithing predated the Law
      1. See Genesis 14
      2. New Testament says Jesus has a higher priesthood than Aaron—His goes back all the way to Melchizedek, to whom even Abraham gave tithes
    5. Tithing in Numbers 18:24-29
      1. Something's askew if a church staff does not tithe
      2. It's like they're saying, "You should trust the Lord with your finances; but we're not willing to trust the Lord with our finances"
      3. Main idea of a tithe: It all belongs to God, and you are recognizing that He allows you to keep ninety percent of what you make and give ten percent to Him
      4. Even the Levites who received Israel's tithe were to tithe
    6. New Testament tithing: 2 Corinthians 9:7
    7. The Levites could eat the offerings and first fruits/firstborn animals that were brought
  3. Numbers 19:1-13
    1. Law of the red heifer—singularly given while the Israelites are wandering in the wilderness
    2. Deals with the ritualistic cleansing of people who become defiled by touching a dead body
      1. This was the issue during these years of wandering in the wilderness
      2. God had promised the land to the younger generation; the older generation would all die off
      3. Numbers 17:12-13
      4. Conservatively, there were 2-3 million Israelites
        1. If the older generation was 1.2 million people, there would be on average eighty-five funerals a day, seven funerals per hour over the forty years of wandering
        2. God also plagued the people, etc.
    3. The sacrifice of the red heifer
      1. A female cow older than a calf
      2. Female = bearer of life
      3. Red = blood; it must be perfect in its redness
      4. Jesus, too, was killed outside the camp/city (see John 19:16-17)
      5. Cedar wood = not as subject to decay as other woods
      6. Hyssop
        1. Used to apply blood to the lintels and doorposts on Passover (see Exodus 12:22)
        2. Speaks of purgation and cleansing; Psalm 51
        3. Jesus on the cross given hyssop dipped in a drink (see John 19:29)
      7. Scarlet = blood and life
      8. According to tradition, some of the ashes of the very first sacrificed red heifer were added to the ashes of every sacrificed heifer since, so that there was always some of the elements of the very first red heifer in the ashes
        1. This continued until the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70
        2. Rabbinical teachings said these ashes mixed with purifying water would inaugurate each new priest into the priesthood
        3. Temple Institute
        4. Asher Kaufman
    4. Numbers 19:11-12: If you don't go the way God has prescribed, you won't be cleansed
    5. How does this apply to a New Testament believer?
      1. Symbolism of these instructions: life, life perpetuated, out of death comes life, life must be sacrificed for life to continue, etc.
      2. This is a special cleansing for a certain kind of defilement: death
      3. Jesus Christ died once for all, one sacrifice for all of time
      4. However, as we walk through this world, we touch "dead" things—people, movies, music, lifestyles—and become defiled and need cleansing
      5. John 13:5-11
        1. "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet" (v. 10)
        2. You need this kind of cleansing as you walk through the world—but you don't need to keep getting saved!
  4. Numbers 19:14-22
    1. An open container is defiled; a closed one is protected
      1. The Bible says we are vessels, clay pots (see 2 Corinthians 4:7)
      2. If you as a vessel are too open-minded in this world, you will become defiled by the death that's in the world
      3. You should be honored to be considered close-minded
      4. Be careful about being too open-minded
    2. Moses was a great mediator, but he wasn't good enough
      1. Aaron was a great priest, but he couldn't take away the people's sins—he could only cover them up
      2. Hebrews 9:11-15
    3. All the sacrifices of the Old Testament point to the cross
  5. Closing
    1. The bloodiness of Christianity bothers some people
    2. But the blood of Jesus is necessary for atonement of sins—we are not good enough (see Isaiah 64:6)
    3. God took care of the problem we could never take care of by sending His Son to be killed once for all
    4. What do we have to do? Believe that what He did was enough
    5. Do you want to see God's love for us?
      1. Look at His wounds from the cross
      2. Pilate: "Behold the Man!" (see John 19:5)
      3. John: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (see 1 John 3:1)

Figures referenced: Temple Institute, Asher Kaufman

Greek/Hebrew words: pesach, Tanakh

Cross references: Genesis 14; 34; 49:5-7, Exodus 12:22; 32, Numbers 16-19; 17:12-13; 18:21-19:22, Deuteronomy 1:2, Psalm 51, Isaiah 64:6, Luke 22:19, John 13:5-11; 19:5, 16-17, 29, 2 Corinthians 4:7; 9:7, Hebrews 5:4; 9:11-15, 1 John 3:1


Topic: The Law

Keywords: old covenant, new covenant, Old Testament, New Testament, Communion, Passover, Levi, Levites, Levitical, priests, priestly, priesthood, tribe, Israel, children of Israel, tithing, tithe, sacrifice, red heifer, female, cow, blood, hyssop, ashes, ash, the temple, Jerusalem, life, death, defilement, defiled, defiling, cleansing, cleansed, clean, vessels, clay pots, mediator, the cross, atonement, sin

Transcript

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Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.

We are people of the new covenant, but we are reading the Old Testament tonight, the book of Numbers. We're in chapter 18. We read the Old Testament because we believe that we need to know the foundation that we stand upon. The new covenant in Christ is based upon the old covenant promises that Messiah would come. And even tonight as we will close our time together, we're going to have the Lord's Supper, communion, even that is based upon the old covenant, the Old Testament practice of Passover, pesach. And as every year they would gather together, they would break bread, and they would take wine.

And the host would raise up the broken bread and say with the company of all those at the Passover meal, "Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha olam, hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz." "Blessed are you Lord God, king of the universe, who has provided bread out of the earth." They would break it and say, "Amen" (amēn) or "Amen," "Yes, so be it," and they would take the bread together looking back to the Passover. Then the host would take the wine, the fourth cup of redemption, holding it up, "Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p'ri hagafen."

"Blessed art thou, Lord God, King of the universe, who has given to us the fruit of the vine," and they would drink the cup. So Jesus took those elements that all of those Jewish disciples understood and he himself was raised with, and he made the utmost significance out of them, saying, "When you do this, do it in remembrances of me." So we take these new covenant elements based upon an old covenant practice. So we believe we need to know what the old covenant says, because so much of the New Testament is based upon the Old. So we as a church go through the Bible.

Not just a little bit of Matthew, and a little bit of the book of Acts, and throw in some Revelation, maybe a Psalm here and there, but all of the Bible. And we're in the Tanahk, we're in the Torah tonight, the book of Numbers; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers. The book of Genesis is the book of beginnings. It's the start of it all: the beginning of the heavens and the earth, the creation of the universe, the beginning of mankind, the beginning of the sin of mankind, the beginning of God's plan to eradicate the sin of mankind, the beginning of a nation.

It's the book of beginnings. It's a book of wonder, the wonder that God created life. We come to the second book of the Torah, the book of Exodus. It's the book of witness as God redeems his people. It's a book of redemption. It's a book of revelation. And they witness God giving them the Law and they witness what it is to leave Egypt and come to the Promised Land or on the way to the Promised Land. It's a book of witness. We come to the third book in the Old Testament, the book of Leviticus. It's the book of worship. It's all about coming to God and worshiping the Lord based upon that sacrificial system.

And so it's sort of a two-fold book of worship: the way to God through sacrifice; the walk with God through sanctification. That's the book of Leviticus. So we have a book of wonder, a book of witness, and a book of worship. We come to the fourth book, the book of Numbers. It's the book of wandering. Some call it the book of journeyings. It's the book of the wayfarers on their way to the Promised Land, but it shouldn't have taken them that long. It's really the book of wanderings. From wonder to witness, to worship, to meandering, wandering. Because of their complaints, because of their unbelief they wandered through the wilderness almost forty years.

So, if you were to take the book of Numbers, the first census, the numbering of the people; the second census, the numbering of the people; the beginning and the end; there's thirty-eight years and ten months all together, almost forty years that are represented in this book. Another title for this book might be a longer title: How to Make a Two-Week Trip into a Forty-Year Trial. It should have taken them two weeks according to the fifth book of the Torah, the book of Deuteronomy. In chapter 1, verse 2, it says, "It is an eleven-day journey from Sinai by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea."

It should have taken them eleven days by foot; it took them almost forty years. So you could title it: How to Take a Two-Week Trip and Turn It into a Forty-Year Trial. How do you do it? How do you slow down in your progress? How to you not make your goal? How do you drag your feet and have this kind of a wandering, meandering existence? Just don't believe God, just complain at every corner at every turn, words of unbelief rather than faith. Now, here's something interesting: almost forty years are in this book, and yet we do not have in the Bible a complete blow-by-blow, play-by-play chronological orientation of those forty years.

All we have are glimmers, highlights, a few incidents here and there---highlights? I should say lowlights in many ways. And so these incidents are spoken about and they occupy the book of Numbers largely, but we don't get a lot of the chronology. It's forty years and we're only getting snippets of time. And that's because, I'm sure, most of it was rather boring as they just sort of got up in the morning and waited for that cloud to move or that pillar of fire at night to move. And then they would move, and when it stopped, they would stop. And they just sort of, like, counted the days.

So we get these various incidents that are recorded in the book of Numbers, and chapter 16, 17, 18, and 19 is one such incident in a few different legs. It's all about the priesthood, God validating the priesthood. So think back. Chapter 16, the rebellion of Korah and his 250---Korah, Daythan, Abiram, On, 250 leaders---the earth swallows them up, 15,000 die in a plague. It's a pretty gruesome chapter. Chapter 17 is Aaron's rod that budded. Resurrection comes out of a dead stick that was placed in the tabernacle, God validating the priesthood of Aaron and his family.

Chapter 18, the Lord reestablishes the family of Aaron of the tribe of Levi, saying, "Yes, you can approach me." Because in the end of chapter 17 people are asking in verse 13, "Are we all going to die? Have we come this far just to die in the wilderness?" So God says, "No. You can approach me, but you can only approach me through the family that I have ordained to use, the family of Aaron of the tribe of Levi." Then chapter 19 is about the red heifer, which hopefully if we get into this we can get to.

Chapter 18, verse 21---and we don't have much to go in this chapter, and chapter 19 is short, so we will be able to do it. And it dovetails beautifully into the Lord's Supper tonight as we see God validating this family, the priesthood, and the sacrifices. Here's something to keep in mind as we go through this: God's validating the priesthood of Aaron, and there is a New Testament principle in Hebrews, chapter 5, that elucidates this, and then speaks of Christ at the same time. Speaking of the high priesthood the writer of Hebrews says, "No one takes this honor unto himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was."

That's a verse out of Hebrews, chapter 5: "No one takes this honor to himself, but those who are called by God, as Aaron was." And because Aaron was, God is validating that Aaron was, and so was Jesus Christ our Great High Priest. The book of Hebrews belabors that point. Go back a few verses we were looking at last week and we got cut off. Verse 21 of Numbers 18, "Behold, behold I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear their sin and die."

"But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance." Now I'm going to set the scene where we left off last time, and I want your minds to go back a few books to the very first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. In chapter 34 there was a strange incident involving the tribe of Levi, an iniquity that they created for themselves that they would have to bear throughout their generations, hence they would get no land allotment.

Yes, they would get the priesthood, but they would have no land allotment, and they would become one of the smaller tribes in Israel. In chapter 34 is the story of one of Jacob's daughters. Her name is Dinah. Do you remember Dinah? I know you're thinking of "Dinah, won't you blow your horn," but it's a different Dinah. [laughter] When Jacob and his sons were encamped at the town of Shechem, Hamor the Hivite had a son named Shechem, and Shechem saw that Dinah was beautiful. He was sort of taken with her.

And instead of following protocol, he usurped all authority and he violated her. He raped her, essentially. But after he raped her and she was in disgrace, something strange happened in his mind where he thought, "I love this girl. I violated her, but I love her, and I want to marry her." So he says, "Dad, would you arrange this for me?" So Hamor goes to Jacob and says, "Look, you know, you gotta get over it. And my son loves your daughter. And, you know, what do we have to do so that our people could take your daughters and granddaughters and bring them as our wives, and you could have our women as your wives?

So the sons of Jacob conspired, leading them along, saying, "Well, you know, it's not our practice to do what you're suggesting, but if you and all of your sons become circumcised, then you can have our daughters and you can take Dinah as Shechem's wife." So, it was a painful negotiation, but they went through with it. And all of the adult males, adults males became circumcised to honor the commitment. All of this was a set up because Levi and Simeon, two of the sons of Jacob, had a conspiracy going on to pay them back for violating their sister.

So the Bible says in Genesis 34, "On the third day, when they were in pain," the males were in pain recovering from the adult circumcision, you can just imagine. "That the men of the tribe of Levi and the tribe of Simeon came into the city of Shechem and killed not one, but "all of the males" in that city. That was their payback. It was such a disgrace that Jacob said to his sons, "You guys are a trouble to me." Now, it's going to--- the cats out of the bag. Everybody in Canaan's going to know what a violent people we are." So, this is where we left off last week.

On his deathbed the old man Jacob, over a hundred years of age, gets his twelve sons and he prophesies over them. Deathbeds are interesting. Our first words aren't as significant as we think. You know, we think when a child is--- "Oh, look it, he said 'dada' or 'mama.' "You know, all the--- who knows what they said. Most of our first words are the same, "Ga, ga, agh, ga," some derivative of that. [laughter] It's not, like, profound or anything. We make a big deal out of it, but it's gibberish. But a person's last words, now those are significant.

Because usually a person's last words, if they know they're on their deathbed, they will often unburden their heart and become very honest; as does Jacob on his deathbed to his sons, including Levi and Simeon. So in Genesis 49, I'm reading out of verse 5, 6, and 7, Jacob the old man on his deathbed says to these two sons of his who will become tribal leaders, "Simeon and Levi are brothers; instruments of cruelty are their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; let not my honor by united to their assembly; for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they hamstrung an ox."

"Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel." And subsequently the tribe of Simeon and the tribe of Levi became two of the smallest and least significant in terms of power of the entire nation. However, something happened to bring Levi back into favor, and he eventually did get the priesthood, though no land allotment. And that was after the whole golden calf incident. You remember, when Moses went up, came back with the Law, and the children of Israel were dancing around a golden calf in sort of a drunken orgy state.

And when Moses comes down and it's told what happened, Moses says, "Okay," sort of a drawing a line in the sand, "whoever is on the Lord's side, let him come over to me." Immediately the tribe of Levi came over to Moses' side. So now the tribe of Levi, though they have no land and they became a small tribe, yet God gives to them the representative role, the priesthood role. At that point they decided, "We need to be on the Lord's side." And it's as if the Lord saw that and he made them that priestly tribe as we see here, though they will "bear their iniquity" and they will "have no inheritance" as it says in verse 23.

Verse 24, "For the tithes," the tithes of Israel. This is a remuneration for the Levites. They would get the tithes, 10 percent of the offerings or of what Israel had. The tithe would be theirs. "For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.' "You need to know that the idea of the tithe, though it is an Old Testament concept, did not originate with the Law, it predated the Law.

Before there was Moses, before there was a Law of Moses, before there was the law of the tithe, tithing was very common. And you may recall back in the book of Genesis, chapter 14, when Abram fights the coalition of five kings---do you remember the story? Chedorlaomer and the five kings, and Moses takes 318 of his trained servants and fights them and wins. And Melchizedek was the king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, comes out to meet Abraham with bread and wine. And it says Abram gave a tithe of what he possessed to Melchizedek.

Now, why is that important? Because the book of Hebrews will say Jesus Christ has a higher priesthood than the priesthood of Aaron. His goes all the way back to the priesthood of Melchizedek to whom even father Abraham gave tithes. So the tithes predated the Law, then during the Law there was the law of the tithe. We're seeing part of it here. Verse 25, "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: "When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe."

"'"And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the Lord from your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord's heave offering from it to Aaron the priest." '" So the Levites themselves, though they were given the tithes, they themselves had to tithe. I believe it's the same today. If I as a minister or any of us on the staff of a church that is supported by the offerings of the people who come, if we don't tithe, something's wrong with that, something's amiss with that.

Something's askew with that, because we're saying to people, "You should tithe and you should trust the Lord with your finances," but we're not willing to trust the Lord with our finances. The idea of the tithe is that it all belongs to God, and you are recognizing that he is allowing you to keep 90 percent of what you make and give 10 percent to the Lord and do his work. And so even the Levites who received the tithes were to tithe themselves. It's always been a practice, Lenya and I started early in our marriage, the very first check that we will write will be our tithe.

Yes, I know that tithe is Old Testament and what about the New Testament? The New Testament makes it simple: "Let everyone give," Second Corinthians 9, "as he purposes in his heart, not out of constraint, but willingly; for God loves a cheerful giver." So do it with a hilarious heart. We talked about that last week. But we always made it our practice that we would give 10 percent to the church we fellowship at, this church, we write the first check. And then beyond that there are freewill offerings to missionaries that we know or worthwhile organizations that we want to support.

So even back then the Levites were called upon to trust the Lord, relinquish control of these finances. " ' "Of your gifts," ' " verse 29, " ' "you shall offer up every heave offering due to the Lord, from the best of them, the consecrated part of them." Therefore you shall say to them: "When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting. And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die." ' "

So they were able to eat the offerings that were brought. They were able to eat the firstfruits that were brought. They were able to eat the firstborn of the animals that were sanctioned by the Lord for them to eat. Thus they were remunerated for their work and they themselves also had to give a portion of it. Now, chapter 19 is an unusual chapter in that it is the law of the red heifer. And it's unusual because it's one of those laws that was not given during the period of the Exodus, it's not given in the book of Leviticus, it's singularly given while they're out in the wilderness wandering from point to point.

And it is a special formula, recipe of ashes placed in water that was used for ritualistic cleansing of people who would become defiled. "Defiled how?" you ask. Defiled by touching a dead body. "Why is that an issue?" Why is that an issue? It became not an issue, it became the singular issue during the period of these almost forty years. Why? Because God promised, "Your entire generation is going to kick the bucket in the desert." Remember the older generation, they were saying, "Oh, we're going to starve out here, and doesn't God care about our little kids?"

God says, "I care about your little kids so much, your little kids are going to get the land, you're going to die in the wilderness. I love your kids so much, they're the ones I'm going to bring into my Promised Land, but not you. You wouldn't go in when the spies said go in. You took the route of unbelief and you complain at every turn. You don't believe me for anything, so you're worried that you're going to die in the wilderness, you will. Enjoy the death experience of the wilderness; your kids, however, are going to go on to the land."

But because that younger generation is going to over the next thirty-eight years and ten months watch the older generation die off, if there's that much death, they've got to do something because there's going to be an enormous number of corpses that will create ritualistic defilement. So something has to be done to manage that. I just want to draw your attention back to chapter 17, the last couple of verses. "The children of Israel," verse 12, "spoke," this is chapter 17, "to Moses, saying, 'Surely we die, we perish, we all perish! Whoever even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord must die. Shall we all utterly die?' "

Well, they won't all utterly die, but the older generation will utterly die. If there were the 2 to 3-plus million people in the wilderness that we figure conservatively that left Egypt, if that generation that died was, let's say, 1.2 million people, it would mean that over the period of almost 40 years, 38 years and 10 months, there would be 85 funerals a day as an average, or 7 funerals every waking hour. That's just the average. That's how many will die over the next several years. Death will be everywhere. There will be a constant reminder of God's judgment upon that unbelieving generation.

So that's an enormous amount of death, and you have to deal with those corpses. Not only that, but there were episodes where God, like, plagued the people. We already saw 15,000 died in one setting. So because of that there's going to be ritual defilement and chapter 19 talks about what to do with that. Notice, "Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron," together now. Remember the Lord spoke to Moses, then last week we saw that he spoke individually to Aaron, now he's speaking to both. "This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come.' "

A red heifer--- you go, "What on earth is a red heifer?" Well, it's a female cow that's older than a calf. According to Jewish tradition it had to be between two and three years of age before it was suitable for sacrifice. It was female, which is interesting, because the sacrifices up to this point, the sin offering, the burnt offering were male animals. This is a female. It's red, which speaks of blood. And not only is it red, but according to rabbinical tradition the description of it has to be perfect in its redness. You go, "Well, what does that mean, 'perfect in its redness'?"

Now, listen to this: There has to be a red hue over the entire animal. If there was a few white hairs or black hairs, it was disqualified. Even the hoofs and the horns had to have a hue, a reddish hue to it. So a red heifer along with certain elements that will be burned by fire, and the ashes of that heifer will be used for ceremonial cleansing. "You shall give it," verse 3, "to Eleazar the priest that he may take it outside the camp, and it should be slaughtered before him." Now we don't have time to look at all of the ways the red heifer does speak of our perfect sacrificial One, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, but there is a corollary.

Jesus was also killed outside the camp, outside the city, outside the city of Jerusalem, outside of the Damascus gate, at that place of public execution and humiliation, Golgotha, Calvary. "Outside the camp, and shall be slaughtered before him; and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood seven times directly in front of tabernacle of meeting. Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight: its hide, its flesh, its blood, its offal," all of the innards, "shall be burned.

And the priest shall take cedar wood." Why cedar wood? Interesting, cedar is a wood that decays slower than many other woods. If you build a fence, best thing to use for wood is cedar fencing. It'll withstand the elemental changes, the temperature changes. It's a good, sturdy, nondecaying or slowly decaying wood. It was probably either Phoenician cedar wood, prevalent back then, known for its high quality, or brown, buried cedar wood, also known for its exceptional qualities withstanding temperatures, etcetera. So he takes cedar wood and hyssop.

If you remember, during the Passover back in Exodus, Moses told the leaders of the homes to take hyssop, this plant, and to dip it in blood, and take the blood and put it on the lintels and the doorposts of the homes. It was with the hyssop. Hyssop speaks of purgation, of cleansing. One of the Psalms, I think it's Psalm 51, "Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean." When Jesus was on the cross they gave him something dipped in hyssop, something to drink dipped in hyssop to quench his thirst. It's a common plant in the Middle East.

If you go to Israel, just maybe take this note so when you go on a tour to Israel, outside of almost any gate in Jerusalem you can buy this bread. The Arab sellers sell it in their little carts. It looks like a bagel on steroids. It's a megabagel. [laughter] And they'll sell you this bagel for like a buck, freshly baked, and then this little newspaper wad with spices in it. And it's this ground-up---they call it záatar. And záatar is a spice, it's hyssop. And they put a little salt in it and it's just really, really great. I know you're thinking of bagels with cream cheese, but in Israel it's bagels with hyssop.

It's just a killer combination. So keep that if your mind next time you're there. "Cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet." Scarlet speaks of blood, speaks of life. A female heifer, she's the bearer of life. It's a red heifer; blood is the substance of life. Hyssop is what is purged with blood. Cedar, this ongoing, stout wood that can last almost anything. And then, finally, the scarlet which also speaks of sacrifice, also speaks of blood. "And shall cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer. And the priest shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; and the priest shall be unclean until evening."

Now, according to tradition, again, according to the writings that we have, once they got this red heifer---and by the way, there has been lots of controversy as to where they could get another one today if they were to rebuild the temple. There's a guy in Oklahoma, there's a guy in Texas that have tried to breed these things. They have been successfully bred on a kibbutz, a farm in Israel. And they're examined by this group called the Temple Institute. According to tradition, when the very first red heifer was burned up and used in this ceremony that we're about to read, when the ashes were almost completely done, they would be, a small portion of them, would be saved.

And when they burned the second red heifer, they would put the ashes of the first red heifer into the ashes of the second red heifer. When the ashes were almost done, because of the rituals we're about to read, they would take those ashes and put it in the next, and put it in the next, and every single generation down. So that the idea was you always had some of the elements of the very first red heifer. This continues all the way through until the temple is built in Jerusalem. When the temple is built in Jerusalem---the temple is eventually destroyed by the Romans, you remember, in 70 AD.

According to the rabbinical writings, when a priest would come into the priesthood, the ashes of the red heifer put into this water of purification would inaugurate a priest into the priesthood. Well, this is one of the big problems right now with a group in Israel called the Temple Institute, which I mentioned last week and this week. The Temple Institute is a group of rabbis and Orthodox Jews that are sworn to and pray for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish temple. They have a yeshiva where they have trained priests.

As I mentioned, they have the red heifer, they have garments of the priests, they have the menorah. I've shown you pictures of it. They have several of the vessels ready to put in the temple. One of their problems is the red heifer. "Where are the ashes from the temple period in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed? Where are they, so we can take some of those first ashes and place them with the ashes of the new red heifer, otherwise we can't have a priesthood, we can't initiate and inaugurate a priesthood." There was a guy a few years ago---he died---in Texas, and he believed he knew where the ashes of the red heifer were.

No, they weren't in Texas, though you would think that's probably what he would say. And Texas is cool, but not that cool. He believed that the ashes of the red heifer from the second temple period, the temple period we're talking about during the time of Christ, was in cave number 3 in Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, the Copper Scroll was found. He believes that they were there. However, another noted archaeologist named Asher Kaufman, a Jewish Israeli archaeologist Asher Kaufman who's done extensive digs and articles on different things related to the temple says, according to the documentation that he has, ancient documents, he knows exactly where they are.

They're on the Mount of Olives where the red heifer during the temple period was burned. It's called the Mount of Anointment. And the priests after burning it would sprinkle the blood seven times toward the west where they---from the Mount of Olives toward the west where the temple is. And he says that there is a cistern on the Mount of Olives, according to the documentation, that has the ashes of the red heifer, and they're there today. The problem is there's a Greek Orthodox Church built on top of that cistern, and the bishop of that church and the leaders won't let anyone go down into it to do any kind of excavation.

But according to Kaufman, get down to that cistern, and those ashes are there, and the priesthood can then be reinitiated. Well, it's all fascinating, but time is running out, so let's mosey through this. Verse 7, "The priest shall wash his clothes, bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening." He's dealt with death. "And one who burns it shall wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and be unclean till evening." Same thing, he's dealt with death.

"Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin. And one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the children of Israel and to the stranger who dwells among them. He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; he will be clean."

"But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean." If you don't go the way that God has prescribed, you won't be clean. See, there's an important principle there. "Well, you know, I've always believed that God is sort of like this or that," and "My idea of God . . ." and, "I think God would be okay if I worshiped him here or in whatever I decide is really cool for me." Well, God has given a prescription of how he wants to be approached, and who is clean and who is not clean. You don't get clean this way, you ain't clean.

Even if some little Jewish guy out in the desert is scratching his head and going, "I don't understand how this could even work--- ashes of a dead cow and water? How cool and clean is that?" God said if you do it, you'll be clean. It's a ceremony that speaks of dealing with the problem that is all around you. "Whoever touches," verse 13, "the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because of the water of purification not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him."

"For this is the law"--- before we get into that, let's make an application, because this is Old Testament. This is if you get defiled because of death, then these ashes along with the water sprinkled on you ceremonially will make you clean. A female, the bearer of life, the symbolic things placed into it that speak of life being perpetuated, that out of death comes life, life will continue, life must be sacrificed for life to continue--- all of this symbolism is in here. How would that apply to a New Testament believer?

Well, follow me here. This isn't the sin offering, this isn't the trespass offerings, this is a special offering, a special cleansing for a certain kind of defilement, death. So how does it apply to us? Because Jesus Christ died "once for all." When he hung on the cross he said, "It is finished." You can't add to that. You can't do anything beyond what Jesus did. It's done. It's enough. God the Father looked upon that sacrifice and said, "What my Son has done is enough---one sacrifice for all time."

However, though we have been cleansed once for all by the blood of Jesus Christ, we walk through this world. And as we walk through this world we touch dead things, and people who are dead in trespasses and sins, and values, and movies, and songs, and language, and stories, and lifestyles that are filled with death, and we need to be cleansed from that--- lest we become defiled. So as we walk through this world we become defiled. It's similar to when Jesus at Passover started washing his disciples' feet and Peter said, "Well, you're not going to wash my feet!"

And then Jesus, like as if to bypass him, said, "If I don't wash your feet, you will have no part with me." And Peter says, "Well, then give me a shower, cleanse all of me, Lord! Not just my feet, but my head, and everything!" And it's like, uh, okay, that was overkill, Peter, a little overreaction there. Jesus said to him, "He that is cleansed needs only for his feet to be washed." You see, we walk through this world and we get dirty feet. We're cleansed by the blood of Christ once for all, but as you and I walk daily we get dirty feet.

And the imagery that Jesus used in the ancient times was like a bathhouse. You go and you go to a mikveh, you immerse yourself in ritual baptism, and you towel dry, and you go home. But the walk from the ritual bath to your home, you've walked in dirty streets, dusty streets with sandals, by the time you get home you've got dirty feet. So, as soon as you get home sandals are off and either you or the servant washes your feet. And Jesus took on the role of a servant and says, "You're cleansed, you're clean, not all of you," Judas isn't. But, "You're cleansed, but you need to get your feet washed."

So we walk and we contract dead things and people dead in trespasses and sins, and we too need this kind of cleansing on a daily basis. "Lord, I've been exposed to this today, I've got involved in that today, just cleanse me." It's not like you have to get born again, again, get saved again. "I've--- Pastor, I've come down fifteen times, last time you gave an altar call, all fifteen times I've given my life to Christ." You don't need to do that. Once is enough. "I've been baptized," once is enough. "Well, I better get rebaptized, I don't know if the first one took." [laughter] The only baptism that saves is a dry one, not a wet one.

You have to be baptized in Christ, immersed in Christ, that's the one that saves. So there is a corollary even for us New Testament believers. Verse 14, and we'll finish out the chapter and take the Lord's Supper. "This is the law when a man dies in a tent: All who come into the tent and all who are in the tent shall be unclean seven days." So you walk into your tent and somebody just has passed out dead. Shlomo in his tent, maybe one of his relatives fell over dead. So all these tents with death in them, that's intense. [laughter] A grave situation to be sure. [laughter]

"He'll be unclean for seven days; and every open vessel which has no cover fastened on it, is unclean," so an open jug of water. It's God's open container laws in the Old Testament. If you have water in your tent that you use for whatever rituals or for drinking, if it's open, there's no lid on it, somebody dies, that liquid is also defiled. "Whoever is in the open field touches one who is slain by the sword or who has died, or the bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean for seven days. And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel."

"A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, the vessels and the persons who were there or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave. The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on third day and on the seventh day; and on seventh day he shall purify himself, wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean. But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean."

So, I suppose knowing as the younger generation the older generation is dying off, before I leave my tent, just in case, I want to cover up all the food, all the pots of water, etcetera. So there may be a principle here. An open container is defiled; a closed one is protected. I meet people all the time when it comes to spiritual things, they go, "You know what? I don't want to be so closed-minded. I'd rather be open-minded. I want to be open to all sorts of different ideas, ideologies, philosophies, religious orientations. I never want to be closed-minded. I always want to maintain an open mind.

You know what the Bible says, that we are vessels, clay pots. But if you as a vessel are too open-minded in this world, you will become defiled by the death and all of the messages of death, antichrist messages that are around us constantly. So, I'm proud---in a good sense, not an evil, prideful sense. I'm honored to say that I do not have an open mind. I have a closed mind. I had an open mind, and my mind was so open I think most of my brains leaked out. [laughter] But something changed in my life, I met "the way, the truth, the life." He not only changed my mind, having found truth, he closed my mind.

So now before I was confused I was open to anything and everything and confused about it all, but now there's clarity, there's definition. Sure, I'm accused of being closed-minded, but I can always say, "You're right, I am. I'm honored to be so. I met Jesus Christ and he's the one that close my mind. It's sealed, it's set, my gate is fast," and you march forward. So be careful about being too open-minded, because pretty soon you can just collect defilement. Make sure that you are open to truth and closed to that which is not truth.

"The man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly," verse 20. We don't know if this means that he was killed or that he was excommunicated, either way it's a tragedy, a travesty. "He has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord." Verse 21, "It shall be a perpetual statute for them. He who sprinkles the water of purification shall wash his clothes; he who touches the water of purification shall be unclean until evening. Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the person who touches it shall be unclean until evening."

So the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron. Moses, the mediator of the covenant, and he was a good mediator, right? I mean, the people complained and God said, "Moses, move out of the way, I'm gonna get rid of them all and start something new with you." And Moses said, "No, Lord! No, please!" And he stood in the gap and he interceded for them. He was a great mediator, but he wasn't good enough. He wasn't good enough. They needed a better mediator than Moses. Moses couldn't bring them into the Promised Land. Moses himself never saw, never entered into the Promised Land. They needed a better mediator than even Moses was.

And Aaron? Great priest, validated by God, chosen by God; he and his family. But even Aaron with all the sacrifices he made for the people could not take away their sins, could only temporarily cover their sins, just cover them up. They needed a better priest, they needed a better mediator, based upon a better covenant with better sacrifices. The writer of the book of Hebrews says as much. I'm reading out of Hebrews, chapter 9, listen: "But Christ came as the High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation."

"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood he entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason he [Jesus] is the mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant [the Old Testament], that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."

All of those sacrifices in the Old Testament cast their shadow toward the cross. They were all pointing toward the cross of Jesus Christ. Blood was needed, animals were killed, blood sprinkled---how many times? How many wounds were on Jesus? Seven: two hands, two feet, crown of thorns, spear in his side, back opened up with a whip--- seven wounds. Seven times the priests all speaking, says the writer of Hebrews, of a better covenant with a better mediator, a better priest, based upon his own blood. Now I gotta tell you as we take the Lord's Supper, these elements, which speaks of his broken body and his shed blood, this bothers a lot of people.

They look at Christianity as a bloody religion. One feminist theologian Delores Williams said, "We don't need any theory of atonement at all. Folks hanging on crosses with blood dripping down and all that weird stuff," her words, "we don't need." Why would she say something like that? Because this lady has no clue of the reality of her own sin. And a person who thinks he or she is relatively good sees no need to have their sin expiated, atoned for, because they compare themselves with somebody else: "I'm better than that person. Maybe not as good as that person, but better than most people."

And so we self-justify with our good works. God said, Yahweh said in the Old Testament, "Your works are like filthy rags in my sight." So God took care of the problem that you and I can never take care of in sending his perfect, sinless Son to get killed once for all. Never has to be repeated. Done. Finished. What do we have to do? Believe that what he did for us was good enough, place our faith in him. That's pretty easy. He did all the heavy lifting. We believe, we're saved. You want to know what God's love toward you is like? Look at the nail prints.

Look at the point of the crown of thorns piercing his forehead. Look at his back beaten like hamburger meat for you and for me. That's what our sin did to him, but that's how much he loved us. Pilate looked at Jesus after the flogging and said, "Behold the man!" shocked. "Behold the man!" John years later said, "Behold what love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!" [applause] Behold the love. Tonight we behold the man and we behold the love of God toward us in Christ, the perfect mediator, the perfect priest, the perfect sacrifice--- once for all.

Now, we're going to take the Lord's Supper. If you do not know the Lord personally, if there's not a real relationship with him, do not take these elements. All you are is preaching a sermon of condemnation to yourself. If you're a believer, you trust in Jesus, you believe in Christ, and some of you right now are going, "Ah, I wish he wouldn't have said that, because I wasn't perfect today." I did not say that. I didn't say you have to be a perfect person. God made you, he declared you perfect. He made a declaration, "You're clean, you're as spotless as my Son." That's God's declaration toward you.

So whether you've had a successful Christian day or a nonsuccessful, you're a believer in Christ, you just get right with God, but you take these elements. If you are not a believer, don't take them, or, or, or you pray right now and you ask Jesus to be your Savior. Simple prayer: Lord, I invite you into my life, into my heart. I want to know you. I believe in you. I trust in you. I'm turning from my sin and turning to you." And then after this service come see us up front or in this prayer room right up here to my left. Just walk through those doors and say, "I said that little prayer tonight. I prayed in my heart.

We'd like to help you take it from there and walk with the Lord. Now, you have and I have a handy little pack. The bread is on the top, you peel the first transparent layer off and you get to that little wafer of bread. You peel the second not translucent or transparent, but opaque scarlet-purple wrapping off, and you get to the juice underneath. So it's convenient, you already have it. I'm going to ask a couple of my pastors, Pastor Kerry Rose is going to pray for the bread, and then Jarrett Petero is going to come up and pray for the juice.

Kerry Rose: Father, we love you. And we love what your Son did for us. You know, we can't even imagine the pain, just the horror of what you went through for us. But as our pastor said tonight, I pray we might take a minute and just think about the things we've done that gave you cause to get on the cross for each of us. And then quietly we just ask your forgiveness, and at the same time thank you so much for the pain you bore for me, for us, so that we might be here tonight celebrating, remembering what you've done for us, in your Son's name, amen.

Jarrett Petero: Father, thank you for making a way through your Son. Thank you for the great sacrifice of him dying upon that cross, shedding his blood for us. Lord, as we hold this cup in our hands, we receive that transformed life of Jesus, Lord, the cleansing power of your blood upon us to live the Christian life. Father, we pray that you would fill us with your Holy Spirit to walk in obedience, Lord, to live in that continual place of just receiving your love, Lord, to be able to receive and absorb your love. As we take this, Lord, as a symbol of your blood, your precious blood, may we just remember the sacrifice given for us. We pray this in Jesus' name, amen.




Additional Messages in this Series

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10/23/2013
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Numbers 1
Numbers 1
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The book of Numbers describes the wanderings of the nation of Israel in the wilderness. Because of their disobedience, what could've been an 11-day journey to the Promised Land turned into a 40-year trial. In this study, we see the reason for the book's title: the censuses in chapters 1 and 26. As we examine the list in chapter one, we learn about God's personal and caring nature.
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10/30/2013
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Numbers 2-3
Numbers 2-3
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In Numbers 2 and 3, we are able to picture how the nation of Israel camped in the wilderness, and we look into the role of the Levitical priests. In this study, important principles about ministry become apparent, and we are reminded that God takes worship seriously.
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11/13/2013
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Numbers 4-5
Numbers 4-5
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In Numbers 4-5, God continues to give instructions to Moses and Aaron for the nation of Israel, and another census is taken. As we study this text, we are given insight into God's view of service and what our relationship with Him should look like.
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11/20/2013
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Numbers 6-7
Numbers 6-7
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As we study Numbers 6-7, we see some of the ways that God's chosen people separated themselves to the Lord and worshiped Him. As the body of Christ, we must also remember that the Lord should be the center of our lives and that our worship to Him is about giving rather than getting.
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1/8/2014
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Numbers 8-9
Numbers 8-9
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As we consider Numbers 8-9, we uncover important correlations between the Levitical priesthood and Jesus Christ, our High Priest and Sacrifice, and discover the beautiful portrait of Jesus provided in the Passover. We also learn how believers are like the Levites: redeemed, cleansed, and set apart to serve the Lord. We have a reason to celebrate!
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1/15/2014
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Numbers 10-11
Numbers 10-11
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In Numbers 10-11, the nation of Israel leaves Mount Sinai and continues their journey to the Promised Land. As we study these chapters, we see the beginning of Israel's disobedience and learn how God's Word is like the manna the Lord provided.
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1/22/2014
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Numbers 12:1-13:16
Numbers 12:1-13:16
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As we consider this passage, we see Israel's continued disobedience as even Moses' own siblings spoke out against him. But rather than retaliate, Moses responded with humility and faithfulness. We learn that it's important to cultivate this attitude whenever we face difficulty.
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1/29/2014
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Numbers 13:17-14:45
Numbers 13:17-14:45
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In Numbers 13, the nation of Israel finally reached the Promised Land, and they had to make a big decision. Their lack of trust in the Lord led them to make the wrong choice, resulting in harsh consequences. In this study of Numbers 13-14, we are presented with a similar decision: do we limit ourselves with unbelief or trust God to carry out His best plans for us?
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2/5/2014
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Numbers 15
Numbers 15
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After learning about some of Israel's failures in Numbers 13-14, we now consider Numbers 15, where God gives His people a fresh start. He makes a new promise to a new generation and gives a new set of laws. As we examine these laws, we learn how they can be applied to our lives. We also remember the good and perfect work of the cross as we partake in Communion.
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2/12/2014
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Numbers 16
Numbers 16
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In Numbers 16, the children of Israel once again begin to complain as one of the leaders stirs up a rebellion against Moses. As the Lord's chosen leader, Moses challenges the opposition and pleads with the Lord to spare the people from destruction. As we study these events, we are challenged to search our own hearts and discover where the Lord has called us to serve Him.
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2/26/2014
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Numbers 17:1-18:23
Numbers 17:1-18:23
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Before diving into this text, we learn why it's important to study the book of Numbers. Then looking closely at Numbers 17-18, we continue to see God reveal Himself to the children of Israel in response to their complaints and disobedience. His mercy becomes apparent as we discover that our service to Him is actually His gift to us.
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3/12/2014
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Numbers 20
Numbers 20
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Numbers chapter 20 picks up thirty-seven years after the events in chapter 19, and the new generation of God's chosen people have started falling into old patterns of sin. In this study, Pastor Skip unveils a typology of Christ and shares insight into how we can deal with anger and grief.
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3/19/2014
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Numbers 21:1-22:13
Numbers 21:1-22:13
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The deaths of Miriam and Aaron marked the end of Israel's wandering as they prepared to march to the Promised Land. Still, the people became discouraged and complained against God and Moses again. We learn about facing discouragement and are introduced to a man who will be prominent in the coming chapters.
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4/2/2014
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Numbers 22:10-23:30
Numbers 22:10-23:30
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In Numbers 22, we are introduced to a new character in the Bible, Balaam, who was considered a false prophet. Balak, the king of Moab, summoned Balaam to curse the nation of Israel so they would stop their advancement into Moab. As we study these events, we learn a lesson about dealing with enemies and are challenged to examine ourselves for self-righteousness.
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4/23/2014
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Numbers 24-25
Numbers 24-25
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The Lord used the false prophet Balaam to bless the nation of Israel, and through Balaam's final prophecy in Numbers 24, God sealed the fate of Israel and its surrounding nations. But even though the Lord blessed His people, they still sinned, worshiping the gods of other nations. When God poured out His wrath on their sin in Numbers 25, we actually see the depth of His mercy and patience.
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4/30/2014
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Numbers 26-27
Numbers 26-27
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Numbers 26-27 covers the second census of Israel, addresses inheritance issues, and introduces the next leader of God's chosen people. As we study these chapters, we see again how God is deeply involved with His children, and we are challenged to grow by actively seeking the Lord.
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5/7/2014
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Numbers 28-29
Numbers 28-29
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As we study Numbers 28-29, we learn about ten sacrifices and feasts the children of Israel carried out as worship to the Lord. We can think about the enormity of their sacrifices—they sacrificed over a thousand animals every year—but God was the one who initially provided the animals for them. We should focus on the enormity of sacrifice God Himself gave—even the life of His Son.
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5/14/2014
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Numbers 30-31
Numbers 30-31
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Numbers 30-31 can be summed up in three words: vows, vengeance, and victory. In these chapters, God gives the children of Israel a set of regulations for vows, they war against the Midianites, and the Lord gives them victory. As we apply the text to our lives, we learn that our word is sacred, vengeance is the Lord's business, and God gives victory to those who are obedient.
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5/21/2014
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Numbers 32-34
Numbers 32-34
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In Numbers 32-34, two and a half tribes refuse to enter Canaan, but in exchange for their help in the battle for the Promised Land, God gives them the land of Gilead. Then when the boundaries of the Promised Land are drawn, we find out Israel only occupied one-tenth of what God promised Abraham. In this study, we are challenged to ask ourselves: Do we sit on the sidelines while our brothers and sisters go to battle for the Lord? And are we content to forfeit the inheritance God has for us?
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5/28/2014
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Numbers 35-36
Numbers 35-36
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In the last two chapters of Numbers, God assigned cities for the tribe of Levi to dwell in, gave instructions for the cities of refuge, and enacted a new law concerning the marriage of female heirs. This book ends similar to how it began: with God at the center of His children's lives. As we wrap up the book of Numbers, we see God's overwhelming mercy, a prophetic picture of our High Priest and Redeemer, and God's view of the sanctity of life. Even though generations have died in the wilderness, God's plan, purpose, and work in the lives of His people are very much alive.
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There are 20 additional messages in this series.