Dr. Ted Hildebrandt
OT History, Lit., and Theology, Lecture 14
© 2012, Dr. Ted Hildebrandt
This is Dr. Ted Hildebrandt and his Old Testament History, Literature, and Theology course: Lecture number 14 on the sacrifices and feasts of Leviticus and the beginning discussion on the book of Numbers.
Let’s begin with a word of prayer and then we’ll get down into class for today: Father, we thank you for this day. We thank you for a beautiful fall day in New England, and we realize that the heavens declare the glory of God. Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. You’ve given us eyes to see, ears to hear, tongues to taste, and hands to handle your creation. We just thank you for your goodness and your greatness. Thank you for Jesus Christ and for the great sacrifice that he made and for all the sacrifices in the Old Testament that were harbingers pointing to Christ, the great sacrifice for all time. So we thank you that you loved us enough to send your Son. We pray that you might help us even this day to walk in his footsteps. In his precious name we pray, Amen.
Let’s jump back into where we were last time. We’re going to finish Leviticus today and get into the book of Numbers, and so we’ve got quite a bit of details to work on in Leviticus. We’re going to be doing two things today in Leviticus. One will be the sacrifices. So we’ll learn, basically I’ll teach you guys how to be priests, and how to perform priestly sacrifices. Then the other thing is after doing the really kind of heavy priestly material, we’ll talk about the feasts of Israel. The feasts of Israel were times of celebration. So, let’s start up with the sacrifices.
One of the questions that comes up as you approach the book of Leviticus, is that there’s all these sacrifices. You wonder, “Why are there so many different types of sacrifices?” So I want to explain the different types of sacrifices, embedding it in a context of the different aspects of sin. So I want to run through – these are different aspects of sin that come up. Normally when people think of sin, they think it is kind of a unitary concept. In other words, sin is sin, and it’s just you did something wrong and that’s it. But actually sin is a complex of things, and so we want to look at that.
Different Aspects of sin: Anger/propitiation
The first thing that sin does, and we see this in the book of Numbers, which we’ll be looking at later, is that when people sin, does God respond with anger? In the book of Numbers, you remember, when they’re wandering in the wilderness, God gets angry as a response to sin. How do you handle anger? There’s propitiation. What is propitiation? Some of you know what propitiation is. In my case, I did something that I knew my dad was going to be very angry about, so did I voluntarily, all by myself, cut the lawn without him asking so that when he got home, he saw that the lawn was cut and he’d be favorably disposed. I come home, my wife’s mad at me for something, and so I did something that was wrong, will you buy flowers? Do flowers kind of cover it over? Sometimes, yes. Can flowers backfire? If the flowers are patronizing, then flowers don’t work. So you have got to be careful with flowers – they can go either way. What I’m saying is you do something nice to try to appease their anger. So propitiation will be God’s anger that needs to be propitiated, calmed down. Again, we’ll be talking more about anger – our culture doesn’t do well handling anger at all.
Aspects of sin: pollution/purification
Sin causes pollution. There’s a defiling nature of sin that causes pollution. Have any of you ever been in an environment that is so sinful that you actually physically felt dirty? I’ve been in such environments occasionally where you actually feel dirty. This is idea of pollution – you feel the pollution, the filthiness of sin. So there’s need for purification. A lot of times purification in Scripture will be done with what substance?--water. They’ll use water for purification. So from the pollution of sin there’s need for purification.
Aspects of sin: guilt/shame/atonement
Now there is guilt and shame. Have any of you ever done something wrong and we used to have this tradition where, basically, you run into your bedroom, you dive into your bed, you pull the blanket and the pillow over your head and hope you don’t get caught. This idea of needing a covering for shame and for guilt. By the way, do we live in a no-shame culture? There’s nothing that shames us, but in those days, shame was a really big thing. What do you do to shame? You make atonement for it. What does “atonement” mean? “Atonement” means you provide a covering for shame. And so, Adam and Eve in the garden. They sin in the garden. Do they feel shame? So what do they do with themselves? They cover themselves. They hide in the bushes. And so, basically, there’s a need for covering. This covering is called “atonement.” There is a need for covering for shame and guilt.
Aspects of Sin: damage/reparation
Does sin actually do damage on other people? Somebody steals something, does it actually damage someone else? Stealing something, actually damages someone else. So reparation – you steal something, and you get caught. Do you have to pay it back? You have to pay it back in multiples of four. You’ve got to pay back four times what you took. So that’s reparation. By the way, does our culture deal with reparation very well? A person does a crime; do they have to make reparation or do we just throw them in jail? We throw them in jail. A person violates and damages another person. Do they ever have to make reparation to that person? Mostly, not, in our culture. There the person is faced with the person that they victimized, they have to make reparation. In our culture, we just lock them away, and the victim ends up having to fend for themselves. So, this is the idea of reparation. The damage is done. Sin does damage on a person. Reparation is that you have got to actually try to fix what you did.
So, for example, somebody does something wrong in our culture. Have any of you guys ever seen where they have to do so many hours of community service. In other words, they violated the community so the judge says “You need to do 40 hours of community service.” Is there something good about that? The person can actually work to repay the damage that they’ve done. So that’s the notion of reparation. I wish our culture had more of this notion of reparation. I think it would actually help a lot of the people who have violated others, if they actually had to repay.
[Student question] Propitiation is a response to anger and trying to appease the anger of God. So propitiation is an appeasement kind of thing. In my case it would be, I buy flowers for my wife and I ask her to go out to dinner. I try to make it up to her for something I did wrong. So I’m trying to appease her anger that I’m expecting. Reparation would be she has this very special thing, and I just busted it. Reparation would be what? Yes. I’d get her a new one and hope that she maybe wouldn’t even find out. I’d get her a new one before she gets home. But you know what I’m saying, the reparation would be I busted it – appeasement would be what? I busted it, she’s going to be angry, and I try to appease her anger. Reparation is “Hey, I’ll get you a new one.” So that would be the difference between the two. Good point.
Aspects of sin: communion broken/confession
Communion is broken. Sin breaks communion between people. A person that lies about another person, gossips about another person, it breaks communion with people. So the community is damaged with sin. How do you restore community? It’s done through confession. And by the way, do you remember in the New Testament, it says that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”? The sins are to be confessed in the community. Then there’s restoration. Have any of you guys been in a place, in a church where there’s been some real bad sin in the church, and the church gets together, the person confesses their sin, and the church gathers around this person, and restores them? This is the process of restoration. Those are really important processes: confession of sin and restoration.
So is basically these are all aspects of sin. Now, will there be different aspects of the sacrifices that dealt with these things? So the sacrifices will be set up to work with some of these concepts here. This is how we do our sacrifices--first of all is the importance of blood. Hebrews 9:22 says, “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.” Ultimately, whose blood would be shed for the remission of sin? Jesus’ blood. So Jesus dies. Is Christianity, in a sense, a bloody religion? It very much is. It’s through the blood of Christ that we’re made whole. We’re cleansed. By the way, do you get the irony there? By Christ’s blood we are cleansed. Is blood usually a cleansing agent? Usually it is the staining of blood, but here blood is for cleansing. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” in the New Testament. In the Old Testament the Jews were not allowed to drink blood. They had to drain the blood out of the animal before they would eat the meat. So blood was specially sanctioned in the Old Testament, in the book of Leviticus here, they’re not allowed to eat blood.
Five Types of Sacrifices: Whole Burnt Offerings
Now, what did the sacrifices look like? I want to go through, basically, about five of these sacrifices, which are the major themes. Five different types of sacrifices, and this is from the early chapters in the book of Leviticus. Our first sacrifice is the whole burnt offering, and this one’s really complex. What gets burnt up in the whole burnt offering? The whole thing gets burned up. So, the whole thing gets burned up, and that’s why it’s called the “whole burnt offering.” Is this going to be the most expensive sacrifice?--yes. When was the sacrifice given? It was given in the evening and in the morning. So it’d be in the morning, they’d do a whole burnt offering and in the evening, they’d do a whole burnt offering. The whole animal would be burned up. This is the most expensive of the sacrifices. The thing is totally dedicated to God. The whole animal is burned up--totally dedicated to God.
Now, another type of offering that occurs in Leviticus, chapter 4, is what’s called the “sin” or “purification offering.” Your different translations of your Bibles will translate these offerings differently, but they’re really the same thing the sin and the purification offering. In this offering, the status of the person counts for something. So if you’re a priest, you have to offer a bullock or some big animal. If you’re a community or a leader, you offer something more. If you’re a regular person, you offer up like a sheep or goat. So if you’re a priest, you have to offer up much more. If you’re a commoner, you offer up simply a sheep or a goat for yourself. What’s very interesting with this sacrifice is, if you’re poor, you can offer up two turtle doves. Now, this brings me over to the New Testament. Think about the book of Leviticus. Mary has Jesus as a son. She gives birth to Jesus. Is Mary unclean? Is a woman after childbirth unclean?--33 or 66 days. After her period of uncleanness is over, does she have to come and offer up a purification offering?--yes. When Joseph and Mary come for purification, what does Mary offer up in the New Testament? Does anybody remember that?--two turtle doves. What does that tell us about their status in that culture? Was Jesus reared in a middle class family or was Jesus reared in a poor family? Two turtle doves tells us Jesus was not rich. You say, “Well, carpenters make good union wages!” That’s just down in Boston. In the real world though, outside, Jesus was raised in a poor family. Mary offers up two turtle doves. That tells us they were not people of high status at all and probably more the reverse of that. Whenever purification is needed, they offer up this type of sacrifices.
The other thing that’s important about this one is the priest got to eat some of this. They would wave certain parts of the animal before the Lord and they themselves would get to eat some of this. By the way, in these sacrifices, was God providing for his priesthood? Did the priesthood actually get food out of these sacrifices? Yes. So, God’s taking care of the priesthood because the priests are not going to have a lot of land. The priests didn’t have farms and land inheritance. They got Levitical cities. They didn’t do a lot of the farming type things like the other people. So when they brought the sacrifices, the priests would get to eat part of the sacrifices.
Now, the next sacrifice is translated many different ways in different translations: the reparation offering. This is called the reparation offering. I like this best, calling it the reparation offering, but almost no translation translates it like that. When you see reparation offering, what is the purpose of this offering? Reparation. Before you offer this one, suppose you stole somebody’s sheep or goat. Before you offer this one up, you have to pay that person back four times what you stole. So you have to make reparation before you offer this one up for some violation. It’s also translated the “trespass offering” or the “guilt offering.” So these are three names – usually it’s translated by one of these. I like “reparation” because it actually tells more what the actual function of this offering is. So it’s for reparation, for paying back.
These two [reparation and purification] are done almost exactly the same way. In other words, part of the animal is burned up, and the other part the priest gets to eat. So both of these, part of the animal is burned, waved before the Lord, and the other part the priest gets to eat.
Now, let’s suppose you’re a priest and you see somebody coming with a sheep or goat, which one do you want? Do you want the whole burnt offering or do you want one of these? The whole burnt offering, do you get to eat any of that? No. Question: With one of these, do you get to eat some? Yes. Would this be a problem for the priests that laid around as people start coming, their mouth starts watering when they see the sacrifices come. And actually, we’re going to see this guy named Eli and Samuel. You’re going to see Eli’s kids ripping off the meat of the sacrifices. Now, by the way, is that really pretty bad, when you rip off God’s sacrifice? So for Eli’s kids, it’s not going to go over too well for them. But anyways, do you see the problem? These kind of sacrifices, they got to eat some. The whole burnt offering they did not, so they start hoping for a reparation or purification offering.
Fellowship offering: Freewill, Vow and Thanksgiving
Now, another one, and this is the fellowship offering or it’s called the “shalom,” the peace offering. Peace is “shalom” in Hebrew. So the fellowship offering or peace offering. There are three different ways that this one is executed. It can be just done for free will. In other words, you can just bring an offering to God because you just want to bring an offering to God. By the way, have any of you heard of a free will offering? This is the background for this: it’s just done, not out of obligation or responsibility, it’s just you choose and you bring and you offer up a free will offering to the Lord. This one is also used for a vow, for completion of a vow. We’re going to look at the Nazarite vow today. When you complete a vow, you do this fellowship, or this peace offering, and that’s how you finish the vow. You make a sacrifice to the Lord. Sometimes you can do it as a todah as a thanksgiving, just to “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever” kind of thing. His hesed endures forever--a thanksgiving offering. So this peace offering is done for these three reasons.
But what’s really neat with this one is guess who gets to eat this one? It’s called “the fellowship offering.” That means the people that bring the animal, they get to eat some of this too. So the people themselves get to eat this one. So this one you would eat with your family and the priests together. This would be a communal meal together, that’s why they call it a “fellowship offering” because everyone gets to eat part of it.
So these are the major offerings in Israel with the animals, and then there’s one more. I don’t like calling this one a “cereal offering” because when I say “cereal offering,” what goes through your head? All of a sudden you’ve got Cheerios going through your head or your Post Toasties or whatever. Actually “cereals” are what? Grain. So it is called the “grain offering.” Does anyone remember the two types of grain that Israel had? Wheat would be one. Does anybody remember the other? Barley. Yes, that’s right. Wheat and barley are the two grains that were grown in Israel. So you’d offer up this wheat and barley. Was this one with blood? No. This was a wheat and barley offering. It could be done with oil and salt but no yeast. There seems to be something with yeast making the bread rise that’s unacceptable. No yeast, but it could have salt and it could have oil. When I say oil, we’re meaning what? Olive oil. So you could put olive oil in with the grain and mix it up and go up from there. So these are the different offerings.
Yes, there would be incense in the environment. And you could offer up – actually there’s an incense offering. God had special incense made. There’s different aspects of that. The priests had special incense that they burned on the incense altar. God specified the formula for that, so there was a particular odor or fragrance when you walked into the Tabernacle that was specified for the priests. But there was also an incense altar and you could burn incense in that area but it’s not like the rest of these that are more sacrificial kinds of things.
Feasts of Israel: 2 seasons
Let’s move on from the sacrifices. We’ve done all the sacrificing, and that’s the hard part. Now let’s look at the feasts. Do the Jewish people celebrate? Yes, they do. Do you realize that the one guy that was in prison for – they kidnapped, basically, a Jewish soldier who’s been in prison for five years – he’s set free today. So the Jewish people today will be celebrating his release. It’s a big deal in Israel even to this day.
So there is a philosophy basically of seasons. Let me just describe the seasons. In New England, do we get four seasons a year? Some people think really we only get summer and winter. But actually what you’re seeing right now is fall. Have some of you gone up to New Hampshire in the fall and seen the mountains covered with leave-changing trees and the beauty of that? If you ever get a chance in the fall, I’ve been told that the wind is blowing the leaves off the trees this year, but particularly New Hampshire is absolutely gorgeous to see the trees in fall colors. So we have fall, we have summer, we have winter. Are winters big in New England? Then we get spring. And spring is a time of the coming to life. So we get four seasons a year.
Now what I want you to conceive of – is anybody from California here? Yes. The weather in Israel is more like, I’m told – I’ve never lived in California – but I’m told it is more like California in that, basically, they get two seasons a year in Israel. For the summer, you get about four or five months of absolute dry. Every day is exactly the same. So when you go to the weather forecast, here’s the weather forecast in the summer in Israel: “the same,” “the same,” “the same.” It just goes on like that because every day you go out, it’s sunny. It starts out cool in the morning, it gets hot in the day, and then what happens in the evening? It gets cool again. It gets almost cold at night. And then the next day starts – cool in the morning, warm in the day. No clouds, every day is sunny. Four months absolutely dry. It’s the summer season. That’s one of their seasons.
What happens then, in the winter is that they get their rainy season. So they have what’s called the earlier rains and the later rains. The earlier rains will be in September, October, November – the early rains. And then they get the later rains in the spring. And so they have the early and later rains.
So they get the rainy season and the dry season. Does that affect things, that they only have two major seasons like that? So in the spring, they’re going to basically get their wheat and barley in the spring harvests. Can wheat and barley make it through the summer with four months of no rain? No, they can’t make it. So the wheat and barley, they come off the rainy season and your grasses grow.
Then, basically, you get this. If you ever go to Israel, try to go in the spring, if you have a choice. You go in the spring, because you’re coming off the rainy season, what will happen to the desert? You’ve got a desert that’s all brown and looks like a desert, and then all of a sudden, the rain will hit the desert and what will happen? All the grasses will grow and these little crocus flowers and the desert will be covered with flowers, and it will be absolutely gorgeous. You see the mountains covered with these flowers and green. What’s the problem? How long does that last? It lasts for a couple weeks and then what happens? The dry, warm, summer wind comes in, and what does it do to those grasses in a matter of days? Just turns them brown, and then all of a sudden the whole thing goes back to brown, and then you’re brown for the rest of the whole summer. But for about two weeks in the spring, it’s absolutely gorgeous. So in April often times, it’s beautiful to be over there. The desert blossoms like a rose, so to speak. Then all of a sudden – boom – everything just dies, withers and dies, and the summer comes.
So wheat and barley are grown in the spring. We’re going to go through the five big feasts of Israel, and these feasts are feasts of harvest. When do you celebrate? You celebrate after you’ve harvested the crops. So, in the spring will be the wheat and barley harvest. What is the date for Passover? You guys all know this. In Christianity, we celebrate what at Passover time? Easter, okay? That’s our Easter. When Christ died and rose again, that’s when they celebrate Passover. So we’re talking about the spring. Passover is celebrated – what do they do? They’ve got a lamb, a Passover lamb, they’ve got the bitter herbs, and what’s the other thing? Unleavened bread, okay? Crackers, unleavened bread. So those, basically, those three things at Passover, for the Passover dinner, the Pesach dinner, and then they go seven days eating unleavened bread. Seven days eating only unleavened bread. Unleavened bread remembering that they had to go out of Egypt quickly and they didn’t have time for it to rise. That’s Leviticus 23, it tells about the Passover and unleavened bread. Now, that’s in early spring. They start the harvest of the wheat in the early spring.
Feast of Weeks [Pentecost]
Now, seven sevens is what? Does anybody do math here? Seven squared… forty-nine. Plus one is… fifty. Seven sevens is the Feast of Weeks. You see why they call it the Feast of Weeks? It’s seven sevens. Seven sevens is seven weeks, okay? A week of weeks. Can you see that that’s a weeks of weeks? Seven weeks. Seven times seven – the Feast of Weeks. Seven sevens and one day added to that makes it fifty. Pentecost, when I say “penta,” what’s “penta”? Penta is five like pentagon. And so Pentecost is how many days after the Feast of Passover? Fifty days later. Okay, so you have Passover and then you do seven sevens plus one. The weeks of weeks. Seven sevens, and you end up plus one, you get fifty, and that becomes Pentecost. Pente – five – cost.
By the way what happens at Passover in the New Testament? Jesus dies, right? Okay, you’ve got the Lord’s Supper and then all that stuff Jesus goes through and he’s crucified and three days later rises from the dead. What happens at the Feast of Pentecost in the New Testament? Acts chapter 2. “The spirit comes down”, okay? And by the way, do we even have churches that are named after this? You have what used to be called the Pentecostal movement. Okay, Pentecostal churches, anybody gone to Pentecostal churches? Yeah, there’s Pentecostal churches – that’s where it comes. By the way, what’s a special passage for them? Acts chapter 2, with the spirit coming down, speaking in tongues and that kind of thing. So the Pentecostal churches are based on this in Acts chapter 2.
Now, so this is Passover and the Feast of Weeks. This’ll be what? Early – what do we say – April? And this one will be fifty days later – we’re into June. And then, usually something like in June the wheat and barley harvest comes to an end. What is gleaning? When you go out to harvest the wheat and barley, there will be some stocks, okay? Just like grass is with stocks, that have the heads on it. The head will have wheat and barley in the head. You take a sickle, you know what a sickle is – you know, the communist sign is the sickle – and basically, you grab a handful of these things and you chop it. Grab a handful, chop it. Chop it, chop it. And so you do it by hand. Is it much better to do it with a John Deere tractor? Anyways, but they didn’t have the John Deere tractor, so they’re going to chop it by hand. Now as they chop it by hand, is some of that grain going to fall on the ground? A lot of it won’t, but some of it will. Were they allowed to pick up the grain from the ground? No. They had to leave – if they chopped the grain, they chopped the stalks, and some of it fell on the ground, they had to leave it there because the poor followed the reapers. Did the poor have to work and pick up the extra stuff that was left behind? Okay.
They were also, when they pulled out their John Deere tractors and they’re doing their fields, they were to round the edges of the corners of their fields. In other words, they were not allowed to reap all the way into the corners. The corners of the fields were to be rounded. Who would harvest the rounded parts of the field? The poor. So, do you see, was this Israel’s way of helping to take care of the poor? By the way, did the poor have to get out and work for this stuff? It wasn’t like they just got it handed to them. They had to get out there with the reapers and follow the reapers and work. They had to go to the corners of the fields and they had to harvest those corners of the fields. So this is, this is called gleaning. When we get into the book of Ruth, we’re going to see that Ruth is a gleaning machine. Man, she’s a worker, and she goes out and she gleans the fields after the reapers. So this is in the spring. The spring harvests what? Wheat and barley. Those are your grasses kind of things growing up.
Now, it goes four months without any rain, with zero rain. When plants don’t have water, they do what? I tried to tell my wife this. Some people have a green thumb – she’s kind of, “I’ve got a brown thumb.” Every plant we have in our house is killed. You have to put water in them occasionally. Four months of no rain. Now you ask, “how do plants live?” What happens every morning, they get dew, okay? Because, why? You guys are the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Sea comes off of this warm, moist air. The land – because the land’s been all night, what happened to the temperature? The temperature at night drops. The land is cool, the warm moist air comes in off the ocean, the Mediterranean Sea. When the warm, moist air hits the cool land, what does it do? It condenses on the land and causes dew. I’ve been out on the roads and the dew has been so thick that I’ve seen the dew go into storm sewers. In other words, it collects; it’s just so thick and goes down. The dew, then, is how the plants survive, okay? It’s the little moisture they get.
Now, what types of plants did they raise for the fall then? Four months of nothing but sun. By the way, do grapes like sun? To be honest with you, what plant today does Israel grow that’s like the best in the world? What kind of fruit likes sun--likes a lot of sun? Solid sun four, five months straight? Oranges. You get oranges the size of grapefruit over there. And they are like the best ever. I swear, it’s worth the trip just to have some oranges from Jaffa oranges. But anyways, sorry. But their oranges are phenomenal because it’s been, you know, solid sun for five months. So, but here they do grapes. Grapes grow and they do a lot of horticulture with grapes, the tending of grapevines. By the way, will the grapes be referenced a lot in Scripture? Have we seen grapes produce what? Wine, grape juice, that kind of produce. We’ll see a lot of grapes in Scripture.
Figs will be on these palm trees. They’ll have this big clump of figs about that – that weigh, I don’t know, forty, fifty pounds – and there will be all these little figs coming off. Figs are really sweet, and what they’ll do to the figs is they’ll mash them up and turn it into fig jam. They’ll basically spread it on bread and things like that. So the figs are something that’s really sweet, and they’ll take it off these palm trees. They’ll have these huge number of figs, they’ll smash it up. They’ll put the fig tree – the sweetness of the thing – they’ll put it on babies’ gums and the baby’s mouth for sweets and things. So figs will be there.
They do a lot with olives. Do the people over there eat a lot of olives? I can’t stand olives, so I didn’t make it too well. Olive oil – I love food cooked with olive oil. They’ll do a lot. They’ll crush the olives, make oil out of it, and olive oil will be one of their major products over there. Whenever you see oil in Scripture, we are referring to olive oil. This is a big staple for them. They will send it all around the world. Figs, olives, and grapes those are what they harvest all fall. This is when they harvest in the fall – usually September, October-ish, that kind of thing.
Feast of Trumpets
In the fall, they’ll have the Feast of Trumpets. This is called “Rosh Hasanah.” Rosh means “head of the year,” so the beginning of the year begins in September. They have a couple different ways that they figure their years.
Now when I say trumpets, what’s the problem? You think of a trumpet, you think of what? A brass trumpet playing notes, da da da da, that kind of thing. When they say trumpets, it’s a shofar which is a ram’s horn. And so they’ll have this ram’s horn. It comes out like this, and it will kind of be a circular thing. They’re about this big. They cost about 125 bucks for a little one. You get the big ones with the double swirls; they’ll be about $250, I paid less for my Bach trumpet, when I was playing trumpet. By the way, on these ram’s horn, can you play a tune with a ram’s horn? Everything’s will be this “BRAAAHH” sound. It’s not like a trumpet like you guys play, some sort of ode or something on your trumpet. This will be just – they’ll be making this big “RAAAHH” sound coming out of this shofar. It will just be a blowing of this ram’s horn kind of thing. If you ever get to Israel, you want to get something cool a shofar is really good. I wish I had the money to get it, but they’re very expensive, but these ram’s horn, they still have them to this day. In the fall of the year, starting of the year, “BRAAHH” – the trumpet will go off and they call that the Feast of the Trumpets. This is the start of the New Year.
The Day of Atonement
This will be a 10 days later in this first month, I think it’s like ten days later – you’ll have Yom Kippur. Now “Yom,” you know because we studied Genesis 1. “Yom” is what? Genesis 1 “day.” Okay, so this is day. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. This is the most sacred of all the Jewish feasts. This is the most sacred, the most holy. This is the one that – how should I say? – quiet reflection on life. A very, very high holy day. Of all the feasts this is very somber where you’re reflecting on your sins. Now what actually happens on Yom Kippur?
This is Leviticus 16. Basically, they have two goats. They bring the two goats up, and do you remember that they cast lots for the goat? So one goat is set free, and the other goat is what? Sacrificed. They take the blood, so the blood from the one goat is then taken. Once a year, the blood goes in to the mercy seat. Remember we had the Ark of the Covenant? The Ark of the Covenant was a box like this. And then on top of the box was this mercy seat with the two cherubim with their wings touching over the top. Between the cherubim was called the mercy seat, and the blood – once a year, they would take the blood of this goat that was selected, and they would put the blood on the mercy seat.
Now, by the way, Josephus and some later guys tell us that the priests were scared because when you’re in there, if the blood wasn’t accepted, God could kill you on the spot. So what they did was they tied a rope around the priest so that when the priest went in to the Holy of Holies and God killed him all the other priests don’t have to go in and try to drag him out and they all get killed too. So they tied a rope around him with a bell on him, and then if the guy goes down, they just haul him out with the rope. Anyways, that’s later tradition. But this is the high and holy day when they take the blood and put it on the mercy seat.
By the way, what happens with the other goat? The other goat is set free. Do you see the imagery there? One goat dies and the blood is shed; the other goat goes free, and that goat is the scapegoat. Remember anything like scapegoat? So scapegoat gets set free, one dies for it. Can you see the idea of substitution there? That would actually play in with Jesus Christ that one person dies and the other person goes free. So this is a high and holy day.
By the way, if you’re going to attack the Jews, what’s the day that you want to attack them on? Has anybody ever heard of the Yom Kippur War? This is when they were attacked. Now, by the way, this is the most high and holy day. Would some Jews not fight even on this day? The problem is most Jews are secular – a lot of the Jews in Israel are secular. Question – will they fight? They will fight, and so what happened is that when they got attacked, they attacked back and they blew them away. So, but they were attacked on their Yom Kippur, and that, you know, just shows you something.
Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths [Sukkahs]
Now, the Feast of Tabernacles. What is that? The Feast of Tabernacles is when they have to go out and live in tents like they did for forty years in the wilderness wandering. So the Feast of Tabernacles remembers the wilderness wandering when they were in the wilderness with God and the hardships – the hardships of the desert when they were out tenting with God, moving from place to place. It’s called Sukkot. Sukkah is the name of these huts. They have to build these tents and they have to live in these tents.
When I was in Israel, Dr. Perry Phillips, Elaine Phillips’ husband, and I went down there because we wanted to go to Me’ah Shearim. Me’ah Shearim is where the real religious Jews live. Have you ever seen the real religious Jews with the black hats and the black curly q’s and they’re always walking around “Shema Israel” and they’re bouncing like that. And so we want to go down to see where the Orthodox Jews celebrated these Sukkahs, see how they built these tents. So we went down to Me’ah Shearim and we noticed that there were all these women hanging on the outside bars of this one place, and we heard this music. So we walked up – and, by the way, do the Jews separate men and women worship? Yeah. Okay, so the women were not allowed in, and there was a room, bigger than this room, and there’s this guy up there wailing on the clarinet. So he’s wailing this music, and there’s about, I don’t know, 200 guys in this room, bouncing around with their hands on their shoulders and bouncing around. So Perry and I think, “Hey, you know, we’re males, it’s okay. We’re not Jewish, but by the way, when you’re not Jewish – do you have to wear a kepah on your head then? So, obviously, you look at me, I’m not Jewish, so we get a kepah, put a kepah on our head, and so we go down into this room. Well, what they don’t tell you is, that this is like a football game with no rules. These guys start coming up, and they start bashing you in your ribs. You’re going there thinking this is like a community thing, you’re with them, and all of a sudden, BAM! You get hit, and then BAM! You get hit from the other side. Like I’m a pretty big boy, so you don’t start bashing me like that. So anyways, we’re getting whacked, but you have to get whacked to the music, see? So every time there’s a beat, you’re getting whacked. So we said, “Okay, I’m not going to whack anybody back,” but I start protecting myself because it was getting hurtful. And what I was really worried about was the hat on my head because question – what if that hat comes off is there going to be a problem? Yes. You could get stomped to death, and I’m dead serious about that. After we got whacked enough, I was, “It’s time to get out of here. We’ve had enough of this”. But it was just all dancing to music, but it was real physical. It was kind of like a male dance. It was like a bash kind of thing. It was – actually, it was really cool, but it just – I just didn’t feel appropriate whacking back, you know what I’m saying? Anyways, although I’ve been trained – I played football, so I could have done the flipper thing on them, but I just – I thought, Yeah, all I need to do is do that and then I’m going to have ten guys on me. This isn’t too good anymore. [Student question] Well, if your yarmulke falls off – you’re supposed to be wearing a yarmulke, showing respect – if it comes off, then it’s like you’re not showing respect. Yeah, these boys don’t care about accidents. They care that the yarmulke’s on your head. What we should have had, we should have had a hairpin to clip it on our heads. That’s how they keep it on, but I didn’t have a hairpin and so – I was just trying to balance it on my head while getting whacked. It wasn’t good.
But anyways, so we get out of there, we come down the stairs and we go out. I want to see these Sukkahs, right? They are going to build these tabernacles, so we go to see how they build their tabernacles. This is how they build their tabernacles: they use 4x8 sheets of plywood, and they build two sheets of plywood high, and they build two on one side, two on the other, two on the other, and basically they make themselves a little hut, and they put palm branches across the top. And so it’s just these 4x8 sheets of plywood.
So I thought, they were really going to do tents or something like that and it’s just this plywood. Well, see I was in electrical engineering, so I notice the electrical cord, and so I look, and I look at the house there and I said, “Man, that’s an electric cord coming out of there. It’s going into that sukkah.” I thought, What’s this electrical cord going into this sukkah for? They’re supposed to be roughing it out in the wilderness. So I go up to this guy’s sukkah, and I poke my head in there to see – I just wanted to see why there is an electric cord going into this sukkah. So I poke my head in there and here is this dude, sitting in a La-Z-Boy chair watching television in his sukkah! And I’m thinking, Yeah, Moses, you’re out in the wilderness roughing it, and this guy’s sitting in a La-Z-Boy chair watching television. It kind of took everything out of me. Anyways, okay, I’m not saying that everybody over there was watching television, okay? I’m sorry. The one guy that I looked at was watching television. I’m not saying they were all wired like that, they weren’t all wired, I should say that. There was one that was wired and that’s why I looked in there. But anyways, so there are the sukkahs. So that’s the Feast of Tabernacles, remembering the wandering in the wilderness. These are all in September-ish kinds of things.
New Testament Implications
Now, one thing I should say, the Feast of Trumpets – do many of these feasts have New Testament ramifications? The Feast of Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles. Somebody has once said that Jesus is going to come back on the Feast of Trumpets. This feast has never been “fulfilled.” We don’t know what it really means. It’s just they blow the trumpets. Remember when the trumpet sounds, Christ will descend? And so some people associate this Feast of Trumpets, saying Jesus will come back in – what was it? – 2010 when the trumpet sounds. Oh, 2010. This is 2011. Ah, I missed it. Anyways, what’s the problem with that? And actually, is it possible there is something with this Feast of Trumpets? Question – what did Jesus say? Does Jesus say explicitly, “No one knows--“, the what?” -- the day or the hour.” So what I’m saying is, I can’t say that this Feast of Trumpets is it. When somebody starts saying, “This is when Jesus is going to come back.”
We had that guy Camping what was it? In this spring 2012? Does anybody follow that? From the spring, there was this wacked out guy that was saying, “Christ is coming back”, and what was it? Just before graduation! Don’t take your finals! Why should you take your finals? Jesus is coming back, right? So anyways, this guy said that and then it didn’t work out as always. I mean, this has been going on since, I’ve been around since the sixties. I can remember this stuff. That’s not the eighteen, but the nineteen sixties. So anyways, you know what I’m saying – so be careful. When anybody starts saying Jesus is going to come back and they use the Feast of Trumpets, should you put a big question mark by that? Get away. This is goofy stuff, okay? So, but there may be something to it, I don’t know, but nobody knows. Jesus says, “No one knows the day or the hour.” So just keep that in mind.
But these are some of the fall feasts, okay? So spring feasts – wheat and barley harvest. Fall feast – grapes, figs, olives – these three feasts in the fall. Did we just go through Yom Kippur? Was Yom Kippur – what was it? Just three, four weeks ago? Does anybody remember Yom Kippur? It happened about three or four weeks ago, that we went through that period.
Sabbath and Sabbatical Year
Now, other special times in Israel. Israel had special times of the Sabbath, okay? Every once a week they celebrate the Sabbath--Friday night to Saturday night. Sun goes down on Friday night, basically Saturday is their off day, and they celebrate their Shabbat. Shabbat, shalom? And Shabbat on Saturday. Friday night to Saturday night. We’ve talked about that already.
They also have what’s called the Sabbatical year, and this is pretty neat. They basically had a Sabbatical year every seven years. They were to let the land rest. Every seventh year, they were to let the land rest. Would the land regenerate itself then? You know, plants decompose fertilizing the land. And so every seven years, they were supposed to let the land rest for a year, and then they could farm it for another six after that.
They were also supposed to release their servants. Their indentured servants were to be released on the seventh year. In that culture, a lot of the people that became servants, why was that? Okay, there’s a famine in the land, you can’t feed your family. There’s a rich guy. He’s got a big plot of land, and he is able to feed other people. Your family’s going to starve. Question – what should you do? Do you tell this guy, “Okay, I will work for you. I will become your servant because I can’t feed my family”? And so basically, as a result of debt and famine people would indenture themselves to richer people. And, by the way, were they supposed to be set free every seven years? And so every seven years, you’d be set free and be able to start all over again.
Now, one of the problems is, did the Jews ever practice the Sabbatical year? Did they let the land lay fallow for a year after six years, and then a year off? They never did this. So Leviticus chapter 25, the Jews never did it. Did God keep track of this? He sure did. God kept track of it, and when they go to Babylon, when they go – Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – when they get hauled off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, God says, “You’re in Babylon for seventy years.” Why seventy years? God says, “My land has not had its rest.” God kept track of those seven years, added them up and says, “You’re out of here. Now my land is going to get its rest. For seventy years, you’re off the land. You didn’t do this.” And so God kept track of it and the Babylonian captivity is seventy years based on this.
[Student question] Servants. Yes, servants would be released. Now there’s different ways you get servants, okay? The Jewish servants and stuff would be released. Is there another way you get servants? By going into war and capturing, those kind of people, and that’s something different. But the Jewish servants would be set free. But the ones captured in war, I think, would probably – continue on because they’re in a different environment.
Year of Jubilee
The Jubilee year is every seven sevens. Do you get that idea again, of seven sevens? Seven sevens plus one is every fifty years. So it’s got that seven seven thing again. Seven sevens plus one – fifty years, and this is in Leviticus 25. This is when – suppose you fell into poverty. You’re getting poor. Can you sell your land for money? Do people pay money for land? So you sell your land for money, but that’s your family inheritance. So what happened is, every fifty years you were supposed to get your family inheritance land back. Now, what’s the benefit of this? Every fifty years you get your family inheritance land back. In other words, every fifty years, does your family get to start over again? Would this have a tendency, then, to eliminate poverty because every fifty years you got it back to start over again? Would it also eliminate people getting really, really, really rich? Because every fifty years, what happens? They had to give it all back. So this was a way of modifying things. It’s an interesting way to structure things I think – avoiding the very, very wealthy and avoiding extreme poverty as well. And so every fifty years, the land, the inheritance, came back to the family on the year of Jubilee.
are a couple other feasts. The Feast of Purim is an interesting one from the
book of Esther. Does anybody remember – we haven’t read Esther yet, but let me
just give you a snapshot of Esther. In the book of Esther – it’s taking during
the Persian period. Xerxes is king of the Persians. This is after the
Babylonians. Who beat the Persians? Alexander the Great. So it goes
Babylonians, Persians, Greeks. That’s kind of the sequence. Who’s after the
Greeks? The Romans. Okay, so that’s the sequence – Babylonian, Persian, Greek,
Roman. So the Persians are taking over, and this one guy doesn’t like this Mordecai
who’s a Jew, and he says, “I’m going to kill all the Jews.” His name is Haman.
So Haman says because he was not given due respect he thought he should have,
he’s going to kill all the Jews. Meanwhile, Esther is the queen with the king,
Xerxes. So, she’s the queen and she’s Jewish. She finds out that this guy Haman
is trying to kill all the Jews. So she speaks up then and invites Haman to
dinner. She speaks up and ultimately Haman is hanged. Haman had a gallows built
that he was going to hang this Mordecai, her uncle, on, and basically what
happens is Haman is hanged on his own gallows, and the Jews are allowed to
fight back. So they avoided this holocaust, this genocide. By the way, in every
age, do people like to kill Jews? I mean, this goes back all the way to the
Persian period. So here, the Jews are spared this genocide largely because of
what Esther did. So they celebrate the book of Esther.
Now, here’s how they celebrate it. I’m sitting on a curb, studying my Hebrew, and around the corner, come a bunch of little kids all dressed up like cowboys and cowgirls and carrying these bags with candy, and they come up to me asking me for candy. I think I’m American you know, so I’m thinking what? This is – Holy cow! This is a Jewish what? Halloween! I said, “I didn’t know that Jews did Halloween!” So I think, there’s a Jewish Halloween! They don’t do Halloween. This is the Feast of Purim – celebrating Esther’s, sparing of the Jewish people under the hand of God. This is how they celebrate it. They go and they ask for candy and the kids all get candy. The kids all get these noise makers too. You ever see these things? They’re on the end of a stick and they’re like this, and the kids swing them like this, and they make noise? This like “zzzzzz!” And they also have these things, they blow out, that make noise and things. What happens is, when they go to the synagogue to celebrate the Feast of Purim, they will read the whole book of Esther. In public, the synagogue rabbi will read the book of Esther. Now, is that long? It’s not that long of a book. But the book of Esther says that the name of Haman is to be drowned out forever. Haman was the guy that was trying to kill the Jews. So Haman’s name was to be drowned out forever. Now all these kids are sitting there with these noise makers, so what happens? The rabbi gets up there and he tries to read, …Haman!” and he tries to get Haman’s name in before the kids can drown him out. So what happens is, he’ll read the story of Esther, and the kids will be ready, they’re ready to drown out Haman’s name. So the guy will try to slip it in before they can do it, see? By the way, is that a really cool thing for the kids? Yeah, the kids participate, and by the way, is it really cool – the kids get to drown out the rabbi? Can you imagine that? In the Baptist church I grew up in you just sit there with your hands folded, except when your parents can’t see you, you’re shooting spitballs off people’s heads, but other than that. Do you see how the kids participate? And they drowned out the name of Haman. This is the Feast of Purim. It usually occurs in the month of March, around then. It’s really kind of a cool feast for the feast of Esther. Now Esther is way after the Pentateuch and Moses.
Now here’s one that you probably know the name of real well--the feast of Hanukkah? If I said to you, “Happy Hanukkah”, when does Hanukkah happen? Usually around what feast for us? Around Christmas time. Hanukkah, usually in December, you know, around Christmas time, just before it’s Christmas time. Hanukkah is actually a celebration of what the Maccabees did about 165 BC. Is anybody familiar with book of Maccabees? It’s in the Apocrypha. It’s after the Old Testament was finished, these Maccabees – basically the same type of thing was happening. This guy named Antiochus Epiphanes was a really nasty fellow up in Syria. Syria was coming down into Israel trying to kill the Israelites and destroy them. They weren’t allowed to circumcise, they burned the Scriptures, they killed Jews and were trying to dominate the Jews. What happened is, these Maccabees rose up – their name actually means “hammer” – the Maccabees rose up and revolted against the Syrian ruler and they purified the temple. When they purified the temple, God multiplied the oil of the temple, and so the lampstand lasted for eight days instead of for seven. So they celebrate, then, the Feast of Hanukkah celebrating the Maccabean purification of the temple. By the way, did Jesus celebrate Hanukkah? John, chapter 10, verse 22 says flat out it was the Feast of Dedication and Jesus was going down there. So even Jesus – by the way, was Jesus pretty Jewish? Yeah, pretty Jewish. Jesus is Jewish and he celebrates the Jewish feast of Hanukkah. So John mentions the Feast of Dedication which is the Feast of Hanukkah from the period of the Maccabees. So these are feasts of Israel, and it’s kind of a neat thing. The Jews like to celebrate their feasts and so do we, right?
The Book of Numbers
So now, I want to jump over to the book of Numbers. A lot of people don’t like the book of Numbers. Too many genealogies, too many names and numbers and things, and so the book of Numbers is often passed over very lightly. I want to tell you that the book of Numbers, theologically, has shaped me as much as probably any book in the Bible. And you say, “Are you kidding me?” I’ll show you why. There’s some really interesting and dynamic stuff in the book of Numbers. It tells about the forty years wilderness wandering, when Israel wandered in the wilderness. When they wandered in the wilderness, they had no what? They had no food, no water, no leadership. They had, you know, problems. They were complaining about everything. So, the wilderness wanderings in the book of Numbers is usually considered a negative book, but I want to share some things out of that.
Nazirite Vow [Numbers 6]
In the book of Numbers, chapter 6, we get the story of this Nazirite and what’s called the Nazirite vow. And so this is from Numbers, chapter 6. There’s three rules. How do you become a Nazirite? Do you guys want to become a Nazirite? How do you become a Nazirite? There’s three rules, basically for dedicating yourself to the Lord in the way of this Nazirite vow. First thing, don’t touch dead bodies. Now you say, “Well, that’s pretty good. I don’t want to touch dead bodies anyway.” In our culture, other people touch dead bodies for us. In that culture, did they have like undertakers or did members of the family – did members of their family have to prepare the body for death? Yes. And so, if you’re a Nazirite, you’re not allowed to touch dead bodies, that kind of thing, so that was important.
No product of the grape. That means certainly no wine, no grape juice – you could not even eat grapes and you could not eat raisins either. Nothing from the grape was allowed, so no product of the grape at all.
Third – now soon as I put this third one up there, everybody’s going to think the same thought. When I put this one up there, who comes to your mind? You’re not allowed to cut your hair – Samson? Okay, Samson comes to everybody’s mind because Samson was not allowed to cut his hair. By the way, does Samson have some problems with some of these other ones though before he got to the hair? “Samson was a Nazirite.” He was a Nazarite from birth, so he never got to cut his hair from birth. Question – he wasn’t supposed to touch dead bodies, what’s the problem with that? Did Samson make dead bodies? Yes, okay, so you get the hair – the hair for Samson – the hair the last straw.
So anyways, these are three things then for a Nazirite vow, and a person would dedicate themselves specially to the Lord, they would take no grapes, no razor on their head, and no touching dead bodies – these three type of things.
Now what was the function of it? The person was separating themselves to the Lord. The person was separating themselves to Yahweh, they take a vow to separate themselves, especially to the Lord. It showed that God was over one’s food, God was over one’s family, and God was over even how one kept one’s own body. God was over one’s food, family, and own body, and so it was kind of an interesting thing here. It was a visible memorial.
If a person’s taken a Nazirite vow – by the way, did you have to take a Nazirite vow forever? You had to be born like Samson was a Nazirite from birth and he was a Nazirite all his life. Do you realize that many people took the Nazirite vow for just a year, for two years, or half a year, or something like that? You could take the vow for a shorter period of time. You didn’t have to do it for all your life. Now Samson did it for all his life, but normal people, you just do it for a select period of time. By the way, after – if you looked at Samson, would you know he’s a Nazirite? Because what? He never cut his hair tell me about the guy’s beard and his hair. Now my wife, we grew up kind of back when they had these people called “hippies.” So my wife had her hair down her back. Apparently, your hair stop growing when it gets a certain length. Now the guy’s beard, I’ve never grown my beard that long, but I think the same thing with the guy’s beard, but would Samson be a big head of hair? I mean, you know what I’m saying, no seriously, he never had his hair cut ever. Has anybody ever seen a picture of Keith Green? Actually, one of my heroes is this guy named Keith Green, and his that haircut reminds me of Samson actually. But anyways, sorry.
Giving up things for God – food, family, even the way one decorates one’s body. Giving up things for God. Now, how do you complete a Nazirite vow? When you’re finished your Nazarite vow, how do you finish it off? Well, first of all, you offer up a sacrifice to God. Doesn’t that just sound natural? You’re going to finish your dedication vow to God, you offer up a sacrifice. The second thing you do is you shave your head – has this got to be painful? You shave your head and burn the hair on the altar. So this would be then – all of a sudden the guy goes from a big head of hair to a shaved head and the hair is shaved. [Student question] Yes, Samson. When I say – how many of you say Sampson and put a “p” in your Samson? Does anybody put a “p” in their Samson? You guys are working from the Greek Septuagint, although you didn’t know it. Has Samson’s name have a “p” in it? No, it doesn’t. But everybody usually pronounces it Sampson based on the Septuagint, the Greek text of the Old Testament. They don’t even know why, but actually his name is Shimson. Shimson is actually his real name. Shimson is based on the word for “sun.” So Samson’s name really means “sunny.” So “Sunny” is Samson’s name. Samson – he was a Nazirite from birth. Samuel was also a Nazirite from birth. A lot of people don’t associate the Nazirite vow with Samuel, but he was also a Nazirite from birth.
Here’s one in the New Testament: Paul – the apostle Paul takes a vow at the end of his ministry, as he’s coming back to Jerusalem, trying to raise money for the poor people of Jerusalem. Paul takes a Nazarite vow. And, by the way, does that mean then that Paul needs to go to Jerusalem and burn his hair on the altar? Shave his head and burn his hair on the altar? Remember all these people were telling Paul, “Paul, don’t go up to Jerusalem. Paul, if you go up to Jerusalem, they’re going to capture you there and it’s going to be really bad for you.” Question – Paul’s a Nazirite vow. Does he need to go to Jerusalem to burn his hair on the altar? Yes, he does. And Paul carries through on that. Question – once he gets up there, do they put him in jail? Yes, they do. So, that’s the way Paul was. But anyways, he does a Nazirite vow for a period of, I don’t know, a year or two. The apostle Paul does that.
Now this raises another question then – Was Jesus a Nazirite? Was Jesus a Nazirite? You say, “No, because I’ve seen pictures of Jesus and he’s always well-shaved.” Was Jesus a Nazirite? When I was younger, I was taught that Jesus was a Nazirite, and therefore, Jesus did not drink wine. Therefore, because Jesus did not drink wine, you should not drink wine. Jesus was a Nazirite. What’s the problem with that argument? Yes, Jesus not only drank wine, he made wine, okay? But then you say, “Well, that was grape juice and it wasn’t really…” and you go off on all that, but Jesus was not a Nazarite. Jesus was a Nazarene. What’s that mean? A Nazarene means he’s from the town of Nazareth, that’s all that that means. Jesus was a Nazarene, means he was from the town of Nazareth in Galilee. It does not mean he was a Nazirite. Jesus was not a Nazirite. He was a Nazarene from the town of Nazareth. So and this just becomes – it’s significant what do you do with the alcohol thing? Does the Bible teach abstinence from alcohol? Jesus drank wine. In the Passover cup – we know what was in the Jewish Passover cup. It’s wine in the cup and things. You say, “Is it legitimate for–can I drink wine as a faculty member of Gordon College? As long as it’s not on campus. I think they’ve got a rule, the faculty can off campus. I’m a teetotaler like all the way around. Largely – by the way, isn’t it interesting to me, I don’t drink actually alcohol unless I’m in a cultural situation like I’m in a Jewish context and the guy hands me some wine and you’re doing a ceremony or something and you participate. I counseled with a woman for quite a while whose husband was an alcoholic. He would come home and beat up his kids and do all sorts of really bad stuff. My brother-in-law has had major problems with alcohol. I told you, we picked up everything the man owned, brought it to my house. Another friend of mine, Eric Zimmerman, a real good student friend of mine was killed dead one night when a drunk basically ran through a stop sign, killed Eric dead on the spot. My friend, he’s in the grave to this day because of that. So I kind of, after Eric died, I don’t drink.
What’s really interesting, I don’t drink. Do all my kids drink? Yes. My one son’s actually making it in these five gallon pails. He’s brewing this stuff. Anyways, and so it hasn’t worked really well in that sense, but I know what I’ve got to do is right for me.
The Bible, by the way, does not condemn alcohol. The Bible condemns drunkenness. Is the Bible explicit that drunkenness is a sin? The Bible is explicit about drunkenness is a sin. So drunkenness is the problem.
By the way, when you’re in Israel – I lived in Israel for a year! The people over there, they drink wine with their meals. I – to be honest with you, I never saw a drunk in Israel. By the way, if you’re Jewish and you get drunk over there, do you want to be drunk and walk into the Arab section? I just want to tell you, you get drunk over there, you could be dead, okay? And so the people don’t. They drink in moderation. So, you got to be careful. The Bible doesn’t say abstinence. I abstain for other reasons, but not because the Bible commands that. And so, anyways, you gotta work with that.
Now, by the way, this fellow in the last class hour, he’s from a church where the church takes a stand where they don’t do alcohol in the church. Should he go back into that church and say, “My professor says that Jesus drank wine.” Is that really ugly? When you’re in a context like that, again, I would not make a big deal out of it. If you’re in a community where they don’t drink and it’s a big deal for them, I guess what I’m saying is chill out. You don’t have to go in there as the big – you’re going to enlighten them on alcohol kind of thing.
I was in a church, the pastor of a church for a bit in the Tennessee area, where they split the church over alcohol. They blew the church up over alcohol. I come in, knowing that the church is split over this alcohol thing – I come in as a preacher, I walk out the first day – I’ll never forget it – the elder board is all lined up and I go to shake their hands – every one of those elders is either chewing or smoking or spitting. They’re all – guess what these guys did for a living? They raised tobacco. This is down south. They raised tobacco, and they’re all tobacco farmers. They just split the church on alcohol. Now I’m from the north. Question – did that boggle my mind? It was like, “You split the church over alcohol, which is okay, and yet you guys all raise tobacco, which is killing everybody.”
And so what I’m saying is did I get up there – my next sermon was on the evils of tobacco. Do you understand why they did the thing over alcohol? Because these guys were a bunch of moon shiners up there. They were making moon shine in radiators and they were getting lead poisoning from the stupid radiators! And so, you know what I’m saying. There was major problems in prohibition days. These guys went over on the other side.
So what I’m saying is, you got to fit in I guess what I’m saying, once again – major on the majors, minor on the minors. There’s some things that just aren’t important to fight over. So if I go into a church where everybody’s an abstainer type person, I just abstain. If I go into a church that everybody drinks, I just try to explain to them why I don’t drink, but if I’m in the context where it would be offensive to them, I’ll do. I’ll drink whatever I have to drink. So what I’m saying is, just think about fellowship and community is more important than what you drink. I guess that’s what I’m saying.
Numbers 6 and the priestly blessing
The oldest piece of Scripture – Numbers chapter 6. Let me just tell you the story. I think I’ve already told this. Do you remember the JEDP theory? Critics say that Moses didn’t write this, that this Pentateuch was written by a J writer who liked Jehovah’s name, the E writer who favored Elohim’s name, Deuteronomy was written kind of a separate thing by Josiah, around the time of Josiah, and then the P document was the most advanced, and it was the priestly document because all the complexity of the priestly stuff. And the priestly code was written – the P document was written about 550 BC to 450 BC after the exile to Babylon.
Now, let me just read to you the priestly blessing out of Numbers. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you, Aaron, as priest, are to bless the Israelites: Say to them, ‘The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’’’” How many of you have heard a pastor say, “The Lord bless you and keep you, make his face…” If you go to Park Street Church, Dr. Gordon Hugenburger will end with this priestly blessing at every church service. It’s a priestly blessing.
If you guys are Jerusalem, you guys are the Mount of Olives, there’s a valley that comes down here called the Kidron Valley, between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem. It goes down to the Dead Sea here. There’s another valley that goes down this way and cuts across here. They were building a hotel right here, and the digging machine, all of a sudden, hits something, and it was a tomb. This tomb had been collapsed – and I think I talked about this earlier – the tomb had been collapsed by an earthquake and so when they got there, all the stuff, including a woman with a silver amulet around her neck, was found there – the woman was still in place with an amulet around her neck. It took them – I was told it took three years to unroll that silver amulet. Actually the guy – when you’re talking tombs in Jerusalem, you’re talking one man, and that name is Gabriel Barkay. I got to study under this guy back in the seventies, that was that nineteen seventies, and Gaby Barkay was my teacher. One of the really neat things for me was this last semester, we had a Gordon student – by the way, you guys can study in Israel on Mount Zion at the Holy Land studies there, Jerusalem University College. One of our students came back and said, “You know, I took archeology of Jerusalem off Dr. Gaby Barkay” and I thought, No, he can’t still be alive. He was old when I was there in the seventies. This guy is so old. He still smokes a pack of cigarettes a day too. I don’t know how he does it. But anyways, but he’s the resident archeologist of Jerusalem. I’ve been with this guy – this guy can walk into a tomb, walk up to the wall of the tomb and touch the chisel marks there and tell you within a hundred years of when that chisel mark was made. This guy is an exceedingly bright Jewish man who has studied tombs in Jerusalem all his life. He is like the world’s leading experts on tombs in Jerusalem. He’s been in them all, and they got him to find this. He ends up – I think he’s the guy who published this.
This is the earliest piece of Scripture. When does it date from? It dates from 700 BC. Why is that significant? Because the critics were saying the priestly document (P) came from 450 BC. We actually have a piece of Scripture around a woman’s neck from 700 BC. This is the earliest piece of the Bible that has ever been found. Who was living when this was going around this lady’s neck? Do you realize King Hezekiah – has anybody ever heard of Hezekiah? Hezekiah was living when this was going around this lady’s neck. Hezekiah in the Bible! So this is really a tremendous find. It’s just – I was so happy, to be honest with you, for Dr. Barkay that he got to be in on this. So this is a really cool thing. This is coming out of the book of Numbers. Numbers 6, the priestly blessing – the earliest piece of Scripture ever found.
Numbers Literary Cycles
The book of Numbers goes on a cycle, and these cycles happen over and over again, and here’s what the cycle looks like: first of all, they have a problem. What’s their problem? Their problem is they’re in the desert, and when you’re in the desert there’s no what? There’s no nothing, so to speak. When you’re in the desert, there’s no water, there’s no food, there’s no – you got all these problems. And so there’s hardship in the desert, so the people will face a problem. Then what do the people do? The people complain. And what do they say? They say, “Moses, we wish we were back in Egypt where we ate all these leeks and melons and we had all this food and water,” the Nile River. So the people complain. Then what happens? God responds. Does God get angry at the Jewish people in the desert? Yes, you saw it. He gets angry and it mentions God’s anger like a gazillion times, and so God responds. A lot of times God gets angry at the Israelites, and then who jumps in after God gets angry? Moses jumps in and says, “God, don’t do it! You know, just take it easy on them” and Moses jumps in and Moses then mediates then, and then what happens? It’s kind of interesting. Does God relent? God, you know. He’s angry at Israel. He’s going to destroy them or do something – fire or snakes or whatever – and then God relents. And then usually at the end of the story, there’s a summary at the end that kind of summarizes the story.
Numbers Mini-Cycle Numbers 11:1-2
Now, what I’d like to do is take a mini-cycle, and I’ll show you this whole cycle in two verses. That’s why it’s called a mini-cycle two verses, this whole cycle. Then we’ll look at a big cycle. So we’ll do a little cycle, then we’ll do a big cycle. Two-verse cycle for this pattern in Numbers. Numbers, chapter 11, verses 1-2 – two verses, here’s how it goes. Numbers, chapter 11, verse 1: “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord.” So the people complained about their hardships. What’s the problem? The problem is the desert hardships. By the way, is the desert a hard place to live? You better believe it. So, desert hardships, and then the people complain. “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord.” Okay, so the people complain.
Then what do you expect to happen next? God responds. “Then when the Lord heard them, his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” So, God sends this fire, it consumes things, and people. Fire burns the outside.
Now what happens? The people cried out to Moses and Moses then prayed to the Lord. So the people cry out, Moses gets involved, Moses prays to God, and what happens? The fire dies down—God relents. All this is within two verses – this whole cycle. And then what do we have left? We need to pull it together as a lesson at the end, and so it says, “The place was called Taberah because there the fire of the Lord died down.” So the place was called Taberah. The place got its name about this fire that happened there. This all takes place in two verses.
Numbers 11:4-25 Complaint and Lament Distinction
Now, I want to move to a big cycle, and the big cycle is one that Moses gets involved in personally here, and this has to do with the manna. The people get sick of manna and they want meat to eat. They don’t like God’s manna and they want meat to eat. So they come to Moses complaining about that.
Now before we do this, I want to just kind of set this up. The people complain, and what’s God’s response? The people complain – does God respond in anger and judgment on them? The people complain, and God responds in anger and judgment. But what happens when Moses complains? When Moses himself complains, does God get his anger aroused? Does he judge Moses? How come when Moses complains God actually helps him? And so what I want to do is make a distinction – that’s a really important distinction, I think – between complaint and lament. I want to make a distinction between these two words – complaint and lament. The words are exactly the same. They are both complaints to God, but the meaning is totally different, and that’s why I think what’s going on – why Moses gets helped and Israel gets judged is because of this distinction between lament and complaint.
Let me use my wife as an example. I’ve been married for – I was saying 36 years, but I need to do the subtraction in my head, and there’s too much up here – but over 36 years, okay. So we’ve been married a long time. Does my wife love me? The answer is, after 36 years, you better believe it. I mean, she’s been through thick and thin with me, but it’s mostly been thin. And so, yeah, I know she loves me. We were about in our mid-thirties – she was probably 35-ish, 36-ish. My wife is a very introverted person, a very quiet person – a very social person but very quiet. I never heard – when my kids did all sorts of crazy stuff, I never heard my wife she’s not a yeller. She never yells at my kids. She’s quiet and an introverted person, as am I when I’m outside of class. One day, I did something that was really stupid, and so she started hollering at me, and it was really loud and I had never had seen her raise her voice like that, and she started screaming at me. Now at this time, we were living in a house that was about – have you ever lived in a city where the houses next to you – you can about put out your hand from the window and you can touch the house next door– there’s a sidewalk between your houses and that’s it. And so we had houses on both sides, the window – it’s summer –it’s all open, and she starts screaming with this voice, it’s like, “Holy cow!” I tell her, “Annette, quiet down, quiet down! I mean, they’re going to call the cops!” And as I try to quiet her down, guess what happens? Instead of quieting down, she gets louder. I didn’t even know that her voice could go that loud. I’ve never heard her do this before! And so I’m trying to quiet her down saying, “People are going to call the cops on us! They’re going to think something’s going bad here and stuff, so quiet down.” She would not. She just kept on screaming at me, and screaming at me, and just – okay.
Did she scream at me because she loved me or because she was so angry at me? Let me just do two different screams at me, okay? One scream at me is, “You are such a jerk! I will never let you do – you should never do that again! That was the dumbest thing – I can’t believe you!” And she says then, “I’m out of here. I never want to see you again. I’ve had it with you. I never want to see you again. I’m gone, man.” What kind of gone is that? “I am gone gone. I can’t take that anymore. I’m out of here.” Okay, is that one type? Was that what my wife was doing when she was screaming at me? No.
What she was doing was saying, “Ted, you did it again. I will not allow you to that again. You are a better man that that. I demand better out of you. And I will not let you do that again because that was just totally disrespectful and totally out of line, and you’re better than that. And I will scream at your face until you become that better man that you should have been.” Now question – is that a totally different way of coming at it? The words can actually be very similar, but in the one case, she’s screaming at me – what? – screaming at me, grabbing on to me saying, “Do better! I love you! You can do better!” The one is coming at a person, the other one is bailing out. Do you see the difference?
When Israel complains, they’re doing what? Are they going after God or are they bailing out? They’re bailing out. When Moses comes at God, is Moses going to get in God’s face? Yes, he will. I’ll read some stuff here. Moses will get in God’s face. He’s not bailing out on God, he’s coming after God and saying, “God, this is not right. You got to do better.”
There is the difference between complaint and lament – what I’m really talking about is the book of Psalms. You guys know the book of Psalms because Psalms is psalms of praise to God, right? “Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for his hesed loyal love endures forever.” And we sing all the wonderful praises out of Psalms. Did you know that half of the book of Psalms is lament? Let me try – you guys learned Psalm 23 right? Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” What happens if you push that back one to Psalm 22? It sounds like this – and I don’t even like saying this because I know where your head’s going and I don’t want your head going there. Israel sang Psalm 22 for a thousand years. It starts out like this: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Israel sang that for a thousand years. Now you guys all hear that and you immediately go to Jesus. But before Jesus, did they sing this for a thousand years? Yes. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from my groanings?” Or go back to Psalm 13 if you don’t like that: “How long, O Lord, will you forget me? Forever?” Picture – you’re in a church, and some dude stands up and starts his prayer like this: “O Lord, how long will you forget me forever? How long will you” – Would that go over really well? The elders would pull him aside and say, “You know, do you understand? God doesn’t forget you. God knows everything. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” What does the Psalmist say? The Psalmist says, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me? Forever?”
Now, that’s in the book of Psalms. You want a really bad one? Most of the laments – you’re right – most of the laments end on a positive note. And somebody was on my case last year saying, “All laments turn around into positive” No, no. You don’t know Psalm 88 – I shouldn’t even tell you guys this – Psalm 88 – there’s only one psalm in the whole that’s a lament and guess how it ends? Most of them come up for air at the end. Does Psalm 88 come up? Nope. It ends in darkness. And so what I’m suggesting to you is – this is very interesting--Psalm 88.
Now where do you go from here? There is an inability of Christians to verbalize lament. In other words, as Christians, everything’s got to be okay. God’s in control of everything. God has a wonderful plan for your life. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Everything’s got to be okay. You, as a Christian, should always have a smile on your face because God is just so wonderful. Question – did Moses always have a smile on his face? Did the Psalmist have a smile on his face all the time? What I’m suggesting is, be careful of the people that are high all the time. Also be careful of the people that are low all the time. Is life lived in the ups and downs of life? Be careful about this Christian everything’s-got-to-be-cool thing because I’ll tell you – is Moses a man of God?
Listen to Moses as he addresses God: “Moses heard the people wailing, basically because there was no meat to eat. And so Moses – this is chapter 11 of Numbers, verse 10 – “each at the entrance of his house, and the Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. And he,” Moses, “asked the Lord, ‘Why have you brought this trouble on your servant?’” Now question – is that a rhetorical question or is that a real question? “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you to put the burden of these people on me? Did I conceive these people? Did I give them birth?” Moses is saying, “I didn’t give them birth. You put all these people on me– I got to carry all these people on my back, God. I didn’t give these people birth. I didn’t conceive all these people.” What is the implication? Who conceived these people? Who gave then birth? God did. And so Moses is using these rhetorical questions to do what? To accuse God.
O I skipped – okay, let me finish this first and then we’ll come back to that. “Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms as a nurse carries an infant to a land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me. Give us meat to eat! I cannot carry these people by myself. The burden is too heavy for me.” Is Moses coming at God in a very, very strong way? By the way, is this Moses, the man of God? Is he one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament? Notice how he comes at God in a really strong way. What I’m saying is, these things are written for us.
Disciplining in Anger?
Now, are you supposed to discipline your children when you’re angry? How many of you have been told, “You never discipline your children when you’re angry”? I ask you, how many of your parents have disciplined you when they were angry? Question – does God discipline his children when he’s in anger? Now, by the way, is anger a problem? Too much anger can lead to violence and bad stuff. A lot of the guys I know in prison are in prison because in an angry fit of rage, the guy stole his girlfriend and he went out and got a gun and killed him because he was so angry and jealous. So anger can be really bad. But on the other hand, are we living – in modern culture – have we kind of castrated the anger out of our being? And is anger appropriate? Does God get angry? We can’t handle it as Christians. We love the God of love. God is love, peace. He loves everybody. He has a wonderful plan for your life. You guys have read Numbers. Does God get hacked sometimes? Yes, he does. And so you got to be really careful about stuff. God disciplines people when he’s in anger.
Is all anger wrong? The New Testament says, “Be angry and” what? “sin not.” “Be angry and sin not.” When you see injustice, should there be anger? When you see injustice there should be anger. “Be angry and sin not.”
So, in other words, there’s a time to be angry and a time not to. Moses uses rhetorical questions, then, not as rhetorical questions to ask questions, his rhetorical questions are – he’s coming at God. He’s rebuking God. Rhetorical questions are often used by the prophets to rebuke – to rebuke the people. In Moses’ case here, he’s using the rhetorical questions as a rebuke to God. Now here’s another one – this is a strong one – is it possible for a Christian to long for death? This is Moses, the man of God, he says, “God, if this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now.” By the way, do I recommend that prayer to people? No. You’re talking with God – what’s the problem there? God can put people to death. Does Moses have a phenomenal relationship with God? Yes, he does. Was Moses so down that he says, “God, if you make me carry all these people, I can’t do it anymore. If this is how you’re going to treat me, kill me. Just take me out right now.”
Now, what does God do? Does God rebuke Moses? No, God helps Moses, and basically, God says to Moses, “I’m going to take the spirit on you, Moses, and bring the elders and the leaders of Israel together, I’m going to take the spirit off you, Moses, and I’m going to put it on–what? “seventy people.” Was Moses carrying a load of seventy people? No wonder why the guy was just down. He was carrying this load – it’s too heavy for him. God distributes the load of Moses on seventy leaders of Israel. And so the spirit of Moses is spread. And it’s a beautiful thing when God deals with Moses. Moses gets in God’s face, expresses – but it’s the kind of things where he’s saying, “God, do something!” and God does something and takes the spirit and puts it on these seventy people. So that’s a really neat thing.
Now, next class, we’re going to deal with Numbers, chapter 12, and Numbers, chapter 12 answers this question: What does God think about interracial marriage? Now that’s not a big a question in our culture today, but there’s biblical data for that. We want to look at that next time. So, okay. Take care.
Transcribed by Sarah
Rough edited by Ted Hildebrandt