Planning Ahead

Planning Ahead

Scripture: Numbers 15:1-41, Ezekiel 20:18-19, 1 Kings 8:41-43
Date: 11/07/2009  Lesson: 6
Despite their rebellion in previous chapters, God still guides them through the wilderness and creates and executes laws for them so they may remain safe and consecrated.

Heroes of Faith by Doug Batchelor

Heroes of Faith by Doug Batchelor
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to our study this morning at Sacramento Seventh-day Adventist Church in bright and sunny Sacramento, California. A very special welcome. We do have some visitors joining us this morning in our sanctuary. A welcome to our regular members.

And a very special welcome to you that join us every week from across the country and around the world, either live streaming on the internet, through radio, television, however you're joining us, welcome. And we truly do believe that you will gain a blessing by worshipping with us. Our first hymn that we're gonna sing this morning is hymn number 8, at the very beginning of the hymnal, "we gather together." And we're gonna sing all three verses. This comes as a request from vaughn in antigua barbuda, landon in the bahamas, alii in the british virgin islands, Christopher, donnice and anique in england, emmanuel in ghana and claudette in New Jersey. "We gather together," hymn number 8.

[Music] It is that time of year again for our Christmas requests. So if you have a special Christmas hymn that you would like to sing with us out of our hymnal on a coming Sabbath during the Christmas season, I invite you to go to our website at www.saccentral.org. And there you can click on the "contact us" link and request any of those Christmas hymns that are in there. And we'd love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn we're gonna sing is hymn number 108, "amazing grace.

" There were so many requests for this song, we're gonna sing it today and we're gonna sing it a couple months from now. Forty-five countries were represented in wanting to sing "amazing grace" with us. And a lot of names, so I'm gonna read about half of 'em today. If I don't get to your name today, you know who you are. And we'll get to you later.

This is from lee in Alaska, Daniel, jose, and maria in argentina, charles, glenn, kara, mcminn and stewart in australia, birdie and ralph in the bahamas, glaucio, Moses, percela and sergio in brazil, patsy and rollie in California, nijibagha in cameroon, janice, walter, helen in Canada, jennette in the cayman islands, nadica in croatia, kaylia and paige in england, jonathan in florida, miriam in Georgia, michelle in grenada, lisa in Idaho, Joseph, satish and varun in india, marcia in jamaica, tabitha in japan, Dallas in Kansas, spase in macedonia, brandon in Maryland, and katie in Massachusetts. So I made it to the ms. So "amazing grace," hymn number 108. We're gonna sing the first, the second, the fourth and the last verse. [Music] Let's pray.

Our precious Heavenly Father, how amazing, amazing is your grace. We're grateful this morning for everything that you do for us. We're grateful for your mercy and the power that you give us to live lives in accordance with Your Word. We ask you to be with us now as we listen to Pastor Doug bring us Your Words, Lord. Please just fill our hearts with your spirit.

Help us to remember and to live with the hope that you have given us grace that is sufficient for us now, and that you will take us through to the end. We're looking forward to living with you forever, Jesus. And we just thank you for what you did for us. We pray these things in your precious name. Amen.

Our study will be brought to us this morning by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Morning friends. Happy Sabbath. Good to see each of you here at Sacramento central. I want to thank our musicians and our singers.

And it's always exciting to hear about these reports that come from people who are sending in their song requests from all over the world. And I want to greet our friends who sent in that last song from australia. I saw several names there from australia. I'll be there this week and doing some evangelistic programs in australia for the next few weeks. I want to greet our friends there.

Come to sydney if you can and join us at our meetings. Also we had some friends we saw that wrote in from great britain. I want to tell you that we're going to be in great britain. I haven't been there in, oh, probably 25 years. Going to be in great britain doing some meetings with 3abn December 2-5, a revival that will be broadcast around the world, on the internet and on television and on lifestyle television.

And so they also carry our Sabbath school class. Want to greet our friends there. Look forward to seeing you. Tune in for the "streams of light" revival December 2-5. You know, we have so many class members around the world.

I always want to let 'em know if we're actually going to be in their country so we get a chance to visit them face-to-face. Going to get to our lesson in just a minute. As always we have a free offer. The offer today is one we've shared before. It's a great book.

It's called, "down from his glory," written by Joe Crews, the founder of Amazing Facts. "Down from his glory." And we'll send it to you for free. Just ask for offer number 154. And call this toll-free number. It's 866-788-3966.

Or if you can remember the acronym for later, it's 866-study-more. Amen? Alright, and we're gonna go to our study guide dealing with the book of Numbers. And some of you maybe have thought, you know: how interesting could be Numbers? But it's a lot of stories in the Bible that are very interesting. Today we're dealing with lesson number 6, "planning ahead," lesson 6, "planning ahead." And we have a memory verse that is from Ezekiel 20:18-19. I always appreciate if our central corral will say the memory verse here with me.

You can also say it out loud who are watching on tv or listening on the radio or on the internet. Here we go, Ezekiel 20:18-19, "but I say unto their children in the wilderness, 'walk ye not in the statutes of your father, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God: walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them." And so here God is saying, "I told the children of Israel in the wilderness how to follow me and how to serve me, but they did their own thing and they got into trouble. And that probably opens the way for me to give a little review. You kind of have to have a little review of our last two chapters to understand chapter 15.

The study today is Numbers 15. We're gonna go through the whole chapter. You remember the children of Israel left Egypt. And they didn't go right to the promised land. That was their destination.

God, instead of taking them north, he took them south. Gave them his law from Mount Sinai, gave them instructions. Before they entered the promised land they were to build this portable edifice that was going to teach them about the Gospel, the plan of salvation, better known as the tabernacle, the sanctuary. Then after they did that, they began their journey to the borders of the promised land with the idea that they were going to cross over, that that generation would inherit the promised land. Now it's been about a year, but they wandered for 40 years.

What happened? Numbers chapter 13 and 14 tells you what went wrong. They sent the spies, twelve spies that were picked, one spy from each of the tribes, spent 40 days surveying the promised land. Two of the spies had faith they could enter in, ten of the spies did not have faith. And whenever they saw the walls of Jericho, or they saw how big the people were, the amalekites and the mountains of hebron, they became discouraged. And they started looking at all the negatives.

As I've told you before that you've got those people in every group. You've got the ones that just look at all the blessings and the promises. And you've got the ones that look at all the negative and the problems, and cup half full, cup half empty. And most of us here, are you optimistic and positive or are you pessimistic and negative? Some of us are a little mix of both, you know. We got our highs and lows.

But ten of the spies brought back an evil report. And even though God called it the promised land, they doubted the promise of God that they could enter in. And they said the people are strong. And it's a land that devours the inhabitants of it. Well, Joshua and caleb said it's a land flowing with milk and honey.

And here's the fruit of it. And you can see the difference in the report. Evidently, Joshua and caleb--by the way, you remember they went to the mountains of Carmel. And they cut down a cluster of grapes at eshkol. And that one cluster of grapes was so big that it took two of them to carry it.

Who do you think the two were that carried the cluster of grapes? I'd like to make an educated guess that it was--i mean if you don't think you're ever gonna get there, you probably wouldn't have gone to the trouble of carrying this mammoth cluster of grapes. And when you think about this cluster of grapes, not only was it a lot of grapes in one cluster, I think they were big. I mean picture a cluster of grapes where the grapes are each as big as your fist. I mean it was just incredible. They'd never seen anything like it.

I mean if the grapes had not been big, when they got there they would have been raisins after coming back. They had to be pretty big. And so finally they get back and it says the first report-- you read in there in Numbers 13. It says, "we've gone to the land where you sent us. And we spied it out.

And it's a land that flows with milk and honey. And here is the fruit of it." Evidently, even though their pockets were bulging with fruit from the promised land, Joshua and caleb outran the other ten spies, 'cause they're excited. And you know, usually people who are excited with a burden go faster than people who may not have a burden, that aren't enthusiastic. And so and in Christian life you have a cross to carry, but you're excited. And so they get there and they say, "this is the fruit of it.

" And I can just see 'em tossing the grapes and the pomelos-- and the--i had pomegranate this morning. They're really good, but boy, that's messy food, isn't it? And they're tossing their pomegranates to everybody. And people are oohing and ahing. But then the other ten spies came with their negative report: "the land through which you send us, it's a land that devours the inhabitants of it." And they give a negative report. "And it's the amalekites and the canaanites and the jebusites and the perizzites.

And they dwell on their-- they're giants in the walls." And then the people began to get discouraged. And caleb and Joshua said, "we are able. Let's go up at once." They had the opportunity to go if they believed. But the other ten spies said, "we are not able." And so Israel represents God's church. You've got two reports.

One report says we are able. The other report says we're not able. Do we still have those two reports in the church today? Can we defeat the giants? Can we? I mean when David went against Goliath, he said, "I can through the Lord." He said, you know, "you're coming against me, sure you're bigger than me and you've got more armor than I've got." David didn't even take Saul's armor. But he said, "I'm coming against you with the Lord." And that's what Joshua's saying. "If God is with us, we can do it.

" Do you think you can be a victorious Christian? Can we be overcomers? Can we live holy lives? Has God asked us to? Is Christ our example? But you know, more and more you're hearing people, and even some pastors in the church, not only other denominations, but even in our church that are saying, "God's not expecting us to be holy. All we do is wear a label by faith that we're now Christians. We get credit for Christ's righteousness. And you're not expected to really change. Just be a little nicer than other people.

I mean that's kind of the way the theology plays out. "No, you're not expected to have victory over your sins." They say, "you're not able." And God says, "you are able." And that's why Jude says, "he is able to keep you from falling." And so the question is, "is your God bigger than your devil?" You know the devil can tempt you to sin. Can God keep you from sin? Do you think that the devil is better at making you fall than Jesus is able to keep you from falling? That's what it boils down to, friends. Isn't that right? And so this is the battle that was happening there at the borders. And finally God said, "okay, I've borne with you.

" And you get to chapter 14. The people said, "let's pick another leader and go back to Egypt. Would God that we had died in Egypt. Would God that we had died in the wilderness." Be careful what you pray for. Finally God said, "okay, I'm answering that prayer.

You want to die in the wilderness, you're gonna get your prayer." And it broke their hearts. This leads into our study today, and so you gotta understand the backdrop. First of all, the ones who did not believe that gave an evil report, the ten spies, they died from a plague. Something happened. God was so upset with them.

And that's why if you are a messenger for God, give a message of faith. And people already know how to not believe. Give 'em hope. Give 'em faith. And so they were especially accountable, because they gave a discouraging message.

God said, "everybody that had been in the census--" you remember earlier in Numbers they did a census of 20-years-old and upward? Everybody that had been part of that census, that had come out of Egypt, after their 20th birthday, did not make it to the promised land, he says, "you're going to wander in the wilderness. For every day the spies went through the promised land, you're gonna wander a year." This is one of the first places you find the day-for-a-year principle. You also find that mentioned again in Ezekiel as well. And Jesus mentions the day-for-the-year principle too. I'll tell you about that another time.

But they had to wander now a year for every day that they'd examined it. Only two people that were over when they left Egypt survived the wilderness wanderings. And you know they all died including Moses, aaron and miriam. Who were the two people that survived? Joshua and caleb. Why? They believed they could, and they did.

And not only did they survive, caleb testifies when you get to the book of Joshua 14. He says, "I'm 85 years old now. And I am as strong now--" he must have been 40 when he left. He said, "I'm as strong now as I was when I left the land of Egypt for war." That's quite a testimony. Not only will you last longer if you have faith, you'll feel better too.

And God will preserve you. And so now God says, "turn back into the wilderness." Now the people, when they realized the curse that had fallen on the ten unfaithful spies and what God pronounced, now you know what the people say? "Oh, we were just kidding. We want to go up. We're gonna go up. Matter of fact, we're gonna go right now.

We're gonna go fight them. We're not afraid anymore." And God said, "no, you're making 'em--now you're disobeying me. I told you no." "Oh, no, no. We believe now. We know you're just kidding.

You really don't want us to wander 40--we're gonna go." And God said, "don't do it." Moses said, "don't do it." The ark and the priests didn't go with them. And the people decided on their own to go fight a battle-- this is the end of Numbers 14-- and they're defeated. They're chased a long way by their enemies. And so at that point then now they've got to turn back. They finally have adjusted to-- can you imagine how discouraging? You've gone through the whole Exodus experience.

And you've seen all these miracles of God's deliverance. You're right at the borders of the promised land. And God said, "I got bad news. You're never gonna see it, because you didn't believe." He says, "you've tested me these ten times." So can you imagine how discouraged you'd be if you found out no means no. And you're gonna now wander for 40 years.

And you're gonna die in the wilderness. They didn't know exactly when. Somewhere along that 40 years they were gonna die. And it could have been one of the--you know, they had several times they failed the Lord and some plague went out. Or it could have been just the old age or some natural causes, but they were now not going to see the promised land.

And so that's where we take up chapter 15. And all of the sudden God starts giving them laws about thank offerings, right after this curse that's pronounced in chapter 14, "you're gonna wander." And they've lost this battle. And they realized that they're now destined to wander as shepherds in this desert for 40 years. I should pause there. It wasn't quite the desert it is today.

There's a lot of archeological evidence and geological evidence that there was a lot more vegetation back there, 3,000 years ago, than there is now. The whole climate's changed. And by the way, the deforestation that happened around the middle east, actually changed the climate, because forests and trees on a coast draw more moisture in from the ocean and it actually invites, it seeds rain. And when you deforest it, it tends to evaporate when it goes over the land. And so do you know that in the promised land, flowing with milk and honey, you go look at Israel today and there's a lot of desert there.

It didn't used to be that way. And they had all kinds of species. They had hippopotamuses in saudi arabia. Can you imagine? That means there had to be rivers. They found the skeletons of crocodiles out there in the desert now.

So it's really changed. But still they were going to wander to be shepherds is what it said in chapter 14. So now they go back and God starts to tell 'em about the offerings of oil and bread. Why did he do that? By the way, I should probably read this to you here. If you go in your Bibles to Numbers, we can just look there together real quick.

Numbers 15, "and the Lord," I'm in verse 1, "and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'when you've come into the land you are to inhabit, that I'm giving to you, and you make an offering by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering of your appointed feasts, make a sweet aroma to the Lord, from the herd or for the flock, then he who presents the offering to the Lord shall bring a grain offering--" where's grain come from? Were they growing any grain in their wanderings? Is there any record in their years they did any farming? No. And it says that a "fourth of a hin of oil--" where's oil come from? Let's talk about olive oil. It comes from? No, not popeye's wife. It comes from olive trees. Did they have time--some of you finally got that--did they have time to plant and harvest olive trees when they were wandering? So what is God doing with them, telling them about the grain and the oil offerings? Well, they did have a little olive oil in the wilderness.

And they had maybe a little grain because there was some in the temple. But where do you think they got that? Most of their wanderings also were in the area of the trade routes of the ishmaelites. You remember they're the ones who carried Joseph in and sold him. They had a trucking contract. Their camels were like semis.

And the ishmaelites were traders. And they pretty much were at peace with everybody because they were the truckers. And you didn't harass them because they brought all of the valuables through the land of the middle east. And so you can be sure that they had some kind of trucking contract where they were bringing some oil. And they were bringing some grain from africa, from the middle east, maybe from parts of asia.

And they had this whole nation of a million. That was a pretty good sales contract. I know some adventists go to camp meeting, and all they've got is a few thousand. And they bring product and sell it. Wherever you've got a crowd of people, someone's gonna capitalize on that.

And so they did have traders that would come and go. You got that? So they were getting some oil. They were getting some grain. But they weren't harvesting their own. So when God is telling them about these offerings that all the people were to make, he's making them look ahead to hope.

You get that? Chapter 15, God is giving them hope about the future by telling them, "you will have oil. You will have flour. You will have fields. You will have orchards." I remember hearing a story one time about this school teacher who did some part time work in a hospital. And she'd go to the children's ward and she'd do homework with kids that were there for procedures and studies that were getting behind in their school.

That was their job to help 'em catch up on their homework. Well, she was assigned to this one room. And as she went she realized it was the burn ward. And she went into the boys room. She was supposed to help him get caught up on his nouns and adverbs.

She had the books and the curriculum and she went into this room. And she saw this boy was horribly burned. And he looked like he was in serious condition. And she at first thought, "oh boy, you know, he's kind of moaning in pain." She said, "I ought to just get out of here," but she thought, "now that's gonna look bad if I just turn and walk out." So she kind of awkwardly walked up and she sat down. She says, "I've been sent by your teacher to help you get caught up on your homework with your adverbs and your nouns.

" And so she kind of mumbled through the curriculum. And the boy listened. And she went out. And she just felt terrible. The next day, one of the nurses said, "what did you say to that boy in the burn ward?" She said, "oh, I'm so sorry.

I hope I didn't upset him." She said, "no, no! Whatever you did, it was wonderful." She said, "he was just dying and we couldn't get him to have any encouragement or any hope at all. He had given up. But after you left his room, he was encouraged." And so the teacher went back in to see him, and she said, "you know, I heard that you perked up a little bit. What's going on?" He said, "well, I figured I was dying." He said, "but when they sent someone to go over adverbs and nouns with me, I figured maybe I am gonna make it." "They wouldn't," she said-- he said, "they wouldn't send somebody to a dying boy to study adverbs and nouns." And so this is what God is doing. He's saying, "look, you're gonna make it to the promised land.

Your children will make it." And so he's giving them these laws to give them hope about the future. And so they start to talk about thank offerings. But there's also some spiritual lessons here as well. Now I've given out a couple of verses. Somebody look up for me Ephesians 5:2, always want to find it.

Who's got that? Hold your hand up. "And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor." You remember we just read there in Numbers 15, it talked about the offering that was to be a sweet smell. Now have you ever walked up the street and smelled a barbeque? How many of you that are vegetarians enjoy the smell of a barbeque? I do. See all those hands? Is it a sweet smell? It is. It's a sweet smell.

Do you know where that smell comes from? The fat. Who was supposed to get the fat? The priests, the people or the Lord? The fat was to be cut and burnt. You know, God doesn't eat fat. It's not that God likes a fat diet. The fat created a smell.

It represented a sacrifice. Also, you don't have fat on a sacrifice that's starving. It's a healthy sacrifice. Christ died in his prime. They were to have a lamb without blemish.

And so this was really to-- it represents the intercession of Christ that makes our prayers sweet before the Lord. Alright, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. We have that? I think we're ready. "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life.

And who is sufficient for these things?" Now not only does it tell us that Christ is that sweet-smelling aroma, it goes on and says that we are too in a sense. Romans 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, that is your reasonable service." I always like to read the second verse here. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you might prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Now we just read here a moment ago, it said that "we are a sweet-smelling sacrifice. To one group, it's of death leading to death. The other aroma of life to life.

" In the world for the lost, Christians are a rebuke. We're a reminder of their fate because of our hope. To the saved, or to those who are looking for Christ, it gives them life and hope. They're looking for some purpose. And so we go through life as a sacrifice.

The church is to be a sweet-smelling sacrifice. There was one church in the seven churches, was it the church of smyrna? That represented--it comes from myrrh, an offering, a sacrifice. And so it's also touching on that. Alright, then there's some other laws in Numbers 15 that deal with the stranger within their gates. Let me read this to you, Numbers 15:14-16, "and if a stranger dwells with you, or whoever is among you throughout your generations, and he would present an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord, just as you do, so shall he do.

One ordinance shall be for you for the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one custom shall be for you and the stranger who dwells with you." This was very unique among the Israelites. Talk about a nation that had laws of anti-discrimination. You know, there were a lot of countries in the world back then that they had one speeding-- one speed limit for the citizens and a different speed limit for the foreigners. They had one penalty for citizens and a different penalty for foreigners.

Now I'm not making a statement on immigration here. I think that everybody should be legal. If you're not a legal immigrant, you're an illegal immigrant. I mean, that speaks for itself. I'm not going there with this.

I'm talking about when someone is in the country, that it'd be treated fairly, assuming that they're not invaders, right? And so that's really remarkable when it says that in the Bible, that they were to treat the stranger fairly. And he gives the reason for that also. Let me read this to you. Isaiah 56:5-6, "also The Sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath." Some people say, "well, the Sabbath was just made for the jews. Have you heard that before? Here he says, "for the stranger, the foreigner.

" Those who keep the Sabbath, "and holds fast my covenant, even them I'll bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer. The burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for," jews only. Who was invited to the house of the Lord? It says all people were to come to it. Now there were some laws about strangers and aliens that came within the confines of the temple. They had a court called the court for the gentiles.

And they had another place where only levites could go. So once you were approaching God, only aaron could go in the holy of holies. Only the levites could serve in the courtyard. The Sons of aaron in the holy place. And the people could be in the courtyard.

And they had a gentile courtyard. And so there was an approaching to God that did seem to have some guidelines on it and limitations. And you might be thinking, "why did they have a law that the blind and the maim were not to come in?" Do you remember that one? That was talking about those who were priests. They were to be representatives. They were types of Christ.

And that's why God had that law about the priests. But with Christ now, what do we read? Galatians 3:26-27, "for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." We are all children of Israel. We are all sons of God through Christ. Why were they to be kind to the stranger? Alright, I said Exodus 23:9.

Why don't you read that for us now? "Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt." He says, "if anybody knows what it feels like to be a stranger, you do, because you were aliens in a foreign land. And one of the things that Christ is going to judge, the wicked and the righteous, when he separates the sheep from the goats, you know, he says, "I was hungry; you fed me. I was naked; you clothed me. I was in prison, and you visited me. I was thirsty; you gave me drink.

" He says, "I was a stranger, and you took me in." So one of the sixth things that Jesus mentions is caring for the stranger. Have you ever been in a strange place where you didn't know anybody and you felt very alone? I've traveled a lot of different countries. And I just ask 'em--you know, I told you I'm going to australia this week. And I double-checked with bonnie, and I said, "now when I get off the plane, will there be anyone to meet me?" Because I'll tell ya, it is a lonely feeling when you get into a foreign country by yourself. And you get off the plane, and you don't speak the language.

And you don't know nobody, and nobody's there. That is a lonely feeling. You are a stranger in a strange land. And so God says, "you know, we need to be sensitive to that. And love and care the stranger.

" And so the laws of sacrifices and offerings for the Israelites were the same laws for the stranger. There was a justice there. Amen? By the way, there's another verse says the same thing. Exodus 22:21, "you shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." How many of you have told your children, "don't talk to strangers." Well, you know, they do need to be careful. I think that, you know, as they get older, kids need to be also taught to be kind to strangers.

Little kids need to be taught to be cautious, especially when they're alone. But yeah, obviously parents want to model caring for strangers. And the gift of hospitality is one of the gifts of the church. Alright, then Colossians 3:11-12, "in Christ," it says, "there is neither jew, nor Greek, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all." And so in the church today, when we come to Christ, we are all one nation. Amen? You agree with that? Alright, let's move along here.

Numbers 15:19, "then it shall be, that when you eat of the food of the land, you shall lift up an offering to the Lord. Of the first of your dough, you shall lift up a cake as an offering, as the offering of the threshing floor, so you shall lift it up. From the first of your dough you shall give it to the Lord an offering throughout your generations." Alright, now here let's read Ezekiel 44:30, please. Okay, Ezekiel 44:30, "and the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest's: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that ye may cause the blessing to rest in thine house." Alright, here's a verse that has been greatly abused by some ministers. The first of all your dough should be the priest's.

You've never heard that before? And I've heard a lot of televangelists saying, "give me your dough. And here's the verse." I want your paycheck, first of your dough. But, what was God saying here? Well, first of all, the levites were supported by the offerings and the tithes of the people. And the levites didn't have time to work their farms because they were to be teaching the word and doing the work of the sanctuary throughout the land of Israel. And so that was God's system.

But beyond this, it was symbolizing that the first of all that we have really belongs to God. Now there's a story or two in the Bible that bears this out how this works. Notice what it just-- what we read there. It says that, "the blessing of God may rest in your house." When you get your paycheck, and you say, "well, I don't know if I've got anything for tithe and offering here. Let's see, I'll pay I'll my bills and, you know, and get what I need to get, and if there's anything left, then I'll bring something to church and just drop a tip in the plate when it comes by.

A tip for the Lord." Is that the attitude a Bible Christian should have? Can God bless that? When we do that, God says, in the book of Hosea, he says, "you're wondering why you're putting your money in a bag with holes." It just seems to run out the other side. Listen. Kings 17, 1 Kings 17:12, you remember the famine in the days of Elijah. And Elijah is sent to a widow, actually a gentile widow of zarephath. And he says during this terrible famine, everyone's starving, he says, "can you get me a drink of water?" She's on her way to get some water.

And there may still be some water in the well, but there's no rain. And so the crops are all-- it's just dusty fields. Everyone's starving. And then he says, and while she's going to get the drink of water--you couldn't say, "no," if someone asks for a drink of water--he says--and by the way, didn't Jesus ask for water from a well from a woman? He's a type of Christ there. He says, "and bring me a loaf of bread.

Bring me a chapati." And she said, "haven't you heard? There's a famine. Everyone's starving." And this is what she says. Listen. She said, "as the Lord God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in a bowl, and a little oil in a jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we might eat it, and die." Having our last meal. And listen to the audacity of Elijah, what he says to her.

And I know I've read this to you before, but it fits here. "Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first." He's not only asking for something from this widow and her son, he says, "I want mine first." I mean he's been eating--ravens have been feeding him for oh about a year and a half now. How dare him ask for the first. He says, "oh, but there'll be a miracle. Don't worry.

" "Well, that's easy for you to say. You'll eat yours first and then there won't be anything left for me. How do we know? You say there's a miracle, and then you eat yours and say, 'oh I guess the miracle didn't work. Sorry. Thanks for that food.

'" Wow, that takes a lot of faith. "And bring it to me; and afterward make one for yourself and your son." Why did God tell her to do that? Was he getting ready to do a miracle for her? But he said, "God's not gonna do the miracle for you if God becomes second in your life." What place does God require in our life? First place. And that offering of dough, it's not really about money, but it does include that. It's talking about your whole life, that God needs first place. God doesn't take second place.

It's like that man that finds a treasure in a field. He goes and he sells all that he has first. Then he gets the field. It's gotta be worth everything. Or that pearl of great price; God needs first place in our lives.

I got another story. If you didn't like my Elijah story, I got a Jesus story. Matthew 14:17, "and they said unto him, 'we only have five loaves and two fish.'" You know this story? "And Jesus said, 'bring them hither to me.'" "Wait. Why don't we first distribute it to the people. Let's see how far it goes.

" He said, "no, no, no. If you want to see a miracle, first bring it to me." Isn't that what he said? And so this whole principle of making God first in our offerings, in our time, in our lives, that's the principle to everything else being blessed. If God has first place in your giving, if he has first place in your time--Sabbath is a sign every week that God has first place in our time. I know Sabbath's the last day of the week, but in another sense, it's the first of a new week, isn't it? We launch our new week by keeping Sabbath. And same, we're giving God our time.

Alright, so that principle there is in chapter 15. Then it had the difference between the offerings of presumption--I'm sorry, the sins of presumption and the sins of ignorance. Is all sin deadly? Did they have a different offering for sins of ignorance? They did. Matter of fact, I don't know if they ever said, "and for the sin of presumption, here's the offering." Now presumptuous, high-handed, rebellious sin, is there forgiveness for presumptuous, high-handed, rebellious sin? Oh, we better figure this one out. Is there forgiveness for rebellious, presumptuous, high-handed sin? Not while you're doing it.

Who would dare to say they are guilty of rebellious, presumptuous, high-handed sin? I am. I sure hope there's forgiveness. I have done things before where I knew it was wrong. I knew God didn't want me to do it, and I did it. And I thought maybe I'll live through it, and I can ask him for forgiveness.

Come on now, fess up. If there's no forgiveness for this, we're all in trouble. If it's only sins of ignorance we're forgiven for--what about when you first come to Jesus and you spent most of your life--those that wander away like the prodigal son, he didn't know what he was doing? Sure he did. He was raised in the church. But if you're living in open rebellion, you're living in a lost state.

And there is no forgiveness for that. You can't bring your offering while you're living in rebellion. While you're living in presumptuous sin, don't bother bringing your offering. That's why Jesus said, "leave your gift at the altar. You better go back and be reconciled with your brother.

" When you've repented of your sin--and what does repentance mean? It doesn't mean just making an offering. It means sorrow for and turning away from. If there is no forgiveness for high-handed sin, you don't think David knew what he did with bathsheba was rebellious? Why was he trying to cover it up if it was okay? Why was he--i mean he murdered a friend to cover it up. He knew it was wrong. And so there has to be forgiveness for that.

So what is he talking about when he says "sins of ignorance?" I was looking in the commentaries, I found a good answer here in kyle and dalich. They've got a great old testament commentary that helped summarize it. "The illusion here is not the sins of commission, but sins of omission." Now do you realize there's a difference between sins of commission and omission? I remember the first time I heard that it hit me like a bolt of lightning. I thought, "oh yeah." There's really two kinds of sin. Sometimes you commit a sin.

That's a sin of commission. You do something actively wrong. You're proactive about sin. You kill someone; you steal something; you commit adultery. Those are sins of commission.

You commit a sin. Then there are things where you sin by not doing anything. Sins of neglect. You neglect to make an offering. You neglect to give the tithe or make the sacrifice or to fulfill some ritual.

It's not that you're doing anything wrong, it's a sin of omission. And so if--now let me finish reading what it says here. It's defined as "acting unconsciously in opposition to the law through having been led astray by some common errors, or by allowing the evil example of Godless rulers to seduce them to neglect of their religious duties. I thought that's a good definition. And so this is really what's being addressed.

And the other commentators pretty much agreed with that, that it's talking about if--when they go into the promised land, they get a king over them that starts to neglect the sacrificial system or a high priest. Were they having problems with the sacrificial system during the time of eli and his sons? Yeah, they were abusing things. And the people tended often to follow the leaders. Well then they had an offering for these times where they were guilty of the sins of omission. Acts 17:30, someone read that.

I gave that out to somebody. "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." Thank you very much. Are there times of ignorance that God overlooks? I always like to just think about David for a minute or Solomon, who I hope to see in heaven, that lived during an age where the Kings having multiple wives was pretty common. And a lot of the patriarchs had slaves. Will God wink at that today, or do we know better? You know what I'm saying? He winks at the times of ignorance.

God considers sometimes the customs that had things that were unbiblical. Jesus said because of the hardness of your hearts, God made laws about divorce. But that was not his will. He winks at the times of ignorance. Alright, and Numbers 15:27, I'm gonna read here, "if a person sins unintentionally, then he'll bring a female goat in its first year as a sin offering.

So the priest will make an atonement for the person who sins unintentionally, when he sins unintentionally before the Lord, to make atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. And you shall have one law for him who sins unintentionally, for him who is native-born and the children of Israel and the stranger who dwells among them." Again, reiterating it's the same law, one in the same. Sins of defiance: Numbers 15:30, "but the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native-born or an alien, one that is blaspheming the Lord, and that person shall be cut off among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord, and has broken the commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; and his guilt will be on him." How many times--i think it's like 25 times it says something to the extent of cut-off. What does it mean cut off among the people? I was studying that.

I don't believe it means executed. Because when they said executed, they said executed. When they said this person will be stoned for this sin, they said stoned. When the person is found--we'll get to that in a minute--they're gathering sticks on the Sabbath. And what do we do? Execute him.

But then there were other sins where it said, "they'll be cut off from among the people." What did Paul say when, in 1 Corinthians, someone was living in open, high-handed rebellion. He said this person was to be cut off. That means ex-communicated. Dropped--that's another catholic term--dropped from fellowship. He could not enjoy the privileges of being a person-- an Israelite and approaching God through the temple.

And it was a lost condition. Until they repented of that and humbled themselves, then they could be part of God's people. Didn't Paul say that even that young man, he was actually sleeping with his stepmother in 1 Corinthians said, when he cut him off, when he repents and comes to the Lord, there can be redemption again. So this is basically what it's saying here. They would be cut off from among the people.

They were outside. They would actually be expelled. You know some countries execute and some countries banish. So they were to be banished from the people. And that meant they could not be saved.

They could not approach the Lord. Alright and then Numbers 15:32, "now while The Sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and aaron, and to all the congregation. And they put him in custody, because it had not been declared what should be done to him. Then the Lord said to Moses, 'the man shall surely be put to death; and all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.

' So, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the Lord commanded." What are the wages of sin? Death. Now when--do we do that today if somebody breaks the Sabbath? Why? Why does the church not do that? One reason is we're not operating under a theocracy. But even once they got to the promised land, there's no record that anybody--once they got a king--was David stoned for adultery? When they were in the wilderness, were they supposed to be stoned for adultery? That's what it said. Did they want to stone mary magdalene for adultery when she was caught in--assuming she was the woman that was caught in adultery? They had kind of adjusted the laws by that time. Some of it depended on the government.

Keep the context. God is in their presence. Can they see a visible evidence of God in the pillar of fire? Can they see in the morning when they go out the evidence of God in the manna on the ground? And when they're at Mount Sinai and the smoke of God on the mountain. I mean they're surrounded. The water coming out of the rock.

They're surrounded with miracles and evidence of God. To sin like that in the presence of God, "to whom much is given, much is required." And how many of you want better behavior from your kids in public than you do at home? Come on, fess up. If they cut up at home and they have a tantrum, you're upset with them. But if they have that tantrum in public are you more upset with them? Come on! So location makes a difference. And the presence of God right there in their camp, they knew better.

What about Exodus 35:3? I think I gave that to somebody. Exodus 35:3, "you shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day." I wanted to make sure and include this in our lesson time. Is that still a law today? What about believers that live up in arctic regions? Are they supposed to shiver under buffalo hides all through the Sabbath, or freeze to death? Pack seal blubber in their boots as they March off to church to keep their toes from freezing because they have no heat in the house? No. God was telling them first of all, they did not need a fire for warmth there in the wilderness. It was a very temperate climate.

They did not need it to cook, because he told them to "bake what they're gonna bake and seethe what you're gonna seethe on Friday for the Sabbath." And the other thing is the word "kindle" itself means do not make or create the fire. They may have had some hot coals, and they may have kept 'em going. We live up in the hills here and we have a fire on the Sabbath. We freeze to death up in covelo in the wintertime. There's snow on the roof.

We gather our wood ahead of time. We don't gather it on Sabbath. We start the fire--i didn't know how cold it was gonna be last night. We got a little fireplace in our house here in Sacramento. And it turns out we didn't do it, but Karen said, "did you get the fire ready?" We get it all ready.

We got one of those little starter logs. We just use a little one, because you know, we don't need much on the mountain there. And put the wood and the paper on it. And all we gotta do is we got this little gas thing, we go click. And it's going.

If it's cold in the winter, we start it before the sun even goes down. But the idea behind it was you get all the work done. What did you have to do in Bible times to start a fire? Well, you had to rub two sticks together, take a flint. I mean it was work. So I have heard people say, "you know, you Sabbath Christians, every time you come to church and you've got your spark plug firing in your engine, you're kindling a fire on the Sabbath day; you're breaking the Sabbath.

" I actually heard jimmy swaggart say that once years ago. And I thought, "they don't know the Bible very well." 'Cause there's nothing that tells once they went into the promised land in Jerusalem, did they have fires? Climate in Jerusalem was like northern California. It even snows. And so of course God let them have heat in their dwellings on that day. It's talking about a principle of work and rest.

And they were rebelling and gathering sticks. Anything you can do the day before, you shouldn't be doing. Does that make sense? Alright, tassels of blue. It says here in Numbers 15, "speak unto The Sons of Israel and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations. And they shall put the tassels on each corner of the cord of blue.

And it'll be a tassel for you to look and to remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you have played the harlot, in order that you might remember to do all my commandments and be holy to the Lord." How many of you--have you ever written something on your hand or tied a string. You know, they used to tie a string around a finger. You'd say, "what's that for? Oh yeah." And so you remember something. They were to have tassels of blue. Any of you seen the Jewish priests still have those today on the borders of their garments, so they remember, "you belong to the Lord.

" Whenever they'd reach out to do something, whenever they take a step, on their fringe, so by their head, by their hands, by their feet, obedience to the Lord. They were to be reminded. Do we need to be reminded? Why? We are naturally prone to disobey. Otherwise God would not have to say to us, "thou shalt not." It's our naturally inclined. And so we need to be reminded by his grace to ask for his help to do his will.

We've run out of time. I want to remind our friends about the free offer. It's number 154, it's called, "down from his glory." And you just call that number, -788-3966. And we'll send you a free copy. God bless you, friends.

And Lord willing we'll be back next Sabbath to study again with you. A website whose roots date back to the beginning of time, Sabbathtruth.com is the definitive resource for Bible light on the Lord's day. Clear Bible answers for every question you've ever had about the Sabbath. Seven key topic headings guide you through the "purpose of the Sabbath," "which day is the Lord's day," the "Sabbath in prophecy," "questions about the Sabbath," "how to keep it holy," the "Sabbath in history," and many "Sabbath resources." Visit Sabbathtruth.com today. And share your newfound treasure with a friend.

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