The Israelites were in the midst of their 40 year journey through the wilderness, at this point in the bible. They had sinned against God and were experiences the consequences of being unfaithful and wanting to turn back to their past life in Egypt. Those who rebelled and attempted to leave the camp to claim the land of promise, had been destroyed. The Israelites remaining needed to repent for what they had done. This chapter begins:
1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you,
3 And will make an offering by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the Lord, of the herd, or of the flock:
4 Then shall he that offereth his offering unto the Lord bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of oil.
5 And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb.
6 Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil.
7 And for a drink offering thou shalt offer the third part of an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the Lord.
8 And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the Lord:
9 Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering of three tenth deals of flour mingled with half an hin of oil.
10 And thou shalt bring for a drink offering half an hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.
11 Thus shall it be done for one bullock, or for one ram, or for a lamb, or a kid.
12 According to the number that ye shall prepare, so shall ye do to every one according to their number.
13 All that are born of the country shall do these things after this manner, in offering an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.
14 And if a stranger sojourn with you, or whosoever be among you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord; as ye do, so he shall do.
15 One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord.
16 One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.
The Lord told the Israelites about the sacrifices they would need to make, and how much flour and wine they were to include with the meat offerings. Any visitor who stayed among them, was also to give an offering. The stranger was to perform ordinances just as the Israelites, and have the same law and doctrines of the gospel. This to me, is an example of the Lord being no respecter of persons. The Israelites were not above others, but had been blessed to have the Lord with them because of the covenants they had made with God. In the Savior’s time, the jewish people has separated themselves from the strangers, and seemed highly offended that the gospel was to go to the gentile nations. This ancient portion of the law of Moses, taught that when with those who were covenant people, anyone was to have the same gospel and ordinances available to them. Today, we know the gospel is for all people in every land of the world and no one is to be denied the blessings if they want to be a part of it. I look forward to the time, when all the leaders of the nations are willing to allow the gospel into their borders, so that all people may be able to hear it and choose if they will accept it for themselves.
17 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
18 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land whither I bring you,
19 Then it shall be, that, when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave offering unto the Lord.
20 Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it.
21 Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the Lord an heave offering in your generations.
They were to offer the first portion of their dough as a heave offering, raised to the Lord. This was to continue through their generations, when they received the promised land. I love this idea of giving of the first of all things to the Lord. Today, we are asked to give a tenth of our increase, but I think that if we remember that the Lord asked for the first fruits, we will think to give the first portion of our increase to the Lord today. When we are willing to give to the Lord first, greater blessings come then if we put it off until we given to other things. This can be physical evidence to us and to the Lord, that we will put Him first in our lives.
22 And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses,
23 Even all that the Lord hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations;
24 Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the Lord, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering.
25 And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord, for their ignorance:
26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them; seeing all the people were in ignorance.
The congregation of Israel was to give an offering and have an atonement made for the people. It had already been taught, that these sacrifices would be necessary for their forgiveness. The Lord was reminding them of how they could repent of their ignorant sins. There are countless things that we do wrong without even realizing we are doing it. If we are old enough to be held accountable for our actions, than our obedience to the law of sacrifice is what will bring forgiveness for those things. When we give of ourselves, and do our duty to God, He will allow those things to be cleaned through the blood of Christ.
27 And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.
28 And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the Lord, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.
29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.
They were to individually repent through the giving of an offering, when they had erred ignorantly as individuals. The same law applied to visitors as well.
30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
31 Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.
Anyone who willfully rebelled against the commandments or sinned against the Lord, treating the words of the Lord as if they meant nothing, was to be cut off from the people and bear his own sin. There is an age of accountability, which we know to be eight for those who are of sound mind. If we are old enough to understand, have been taught the laws of God, and still choose to disobey or treat them like they don’t mean anything, we are then willfully against the commandments and will be held accountable until we repent of our sins. When we choose not to repent, we cut ourselves off from the spirit of God and in some cases we too can be cut off from the people of God, through excommunication.
32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
35 And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.
There was a man who gathered sticks on the sabbath, which was against the law of Moses. In Exodus 31:14 we read, “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” Also in Exodus 35 we read the following:
2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.
The man was probably gathering sticks for a fire, and this was forbidden on the Sabbath. Those who witnessed it, brought the man to Moses and Aaron. He was judged in front of the people, but they locked him up because they did not know what to do with him. Moses took the issue to the Lord and was told that the man was to be stoned by the people. The people did as the Lord commanded, because he had sinned against God. The Sabbath is still God’s holy day, with a commandment to refrain from normal work of life, and we should show the same respect by honoring it.
37 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
41 I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.
The Israelites were then commanded to place fringes in their clothing, as a reminder of the commandments they had promised to follow. They were to remind them that they were not to seek after the desires of their hearts, but do the will of God. I am sure that this was commanded in order to prepare them for the temptations that were going to come to them. It is so important for us to have these types of reminders today as well. Life happens. The day-to-day activities pull along one way or another and we can easily lose sight of the goal and the path to get there. This is why we are commanded to gather together often as disciples of Christ. Coming together to church each week is one of the ways that God has instituted for us to remember His commandments. Placing other things in our life that will stand as a reminder every day, is a great way to remain true to the will of God. Things we wear, hangings on our walls, messages we read and such, will help us remain faithful and true. I am glad for the reminders in my life which touch the memories in my mind of those things that the spirit has taught me to be true.