24 - the big points
1) Each tribe was represented before the Lord.
2) Everyone had to carry out God's edict. The man’s actions didn’t only affect himself or God. He impacted community. His sin affected them too.
3) God values human life above animal life. Hence the death of a human carries a greater sentence.
4) The justice must fit the crime. Telling the Israelites "an eye for an eye" wasn't a literal statement. Rather it was saying if we get a scratch from someone we can't amputate his arm in retaliation.
I found it interesting that the high priest stayed up all night to keep the fire burning before the Lord. This is a foreshadowing of the fact that Jesus is always working on our behalf - keeping us in good standing before the Father.
Twelve cakes had to be set out before the Lord each Sabbath showing us that God wants fellowship with all of his people not just some. See how quickly we found the grace? I could almost finish writing here but there’s so much to uncover (smile).
The high priest had a really hard job – he had night duty in the temple. All night. Every night. He had to make sure that the lamp did not go out. This meant ensuring that there was enough oil in the lamp and that the wicks were kept trimmed so that it gave the best light and made the most efficient use of the fuel.
The lesson that God was teaching is was that he asks us to do less than that which was asked of his son. Let me explain. Jesus is our high priest, right? That means he’s the one that has to keep the “light” burning. He has to constantly represent us before the Father. He has to constantly cleanse us and wash us in his blood.
He does this all day long. All night long. Every day and every night.
He doesn’t have someone to relieve him so that he can rest or take a break. He is always working on our behalf. Isn’t that wonderful?
Now let’s talk about the Egyptian blasphemer. So he would have been one of the “mixed multitude” mentioned in Exodus 12:38, he goes out into the camp and gets into a fight with an Israelite. The account doesn’t tell who started the fight or what it was about but somewhere in the middle of it the Egyptian blasphemes God.
I imagine that when the fight started they drew a crowd. Maybe the women were worried about getting the blood out of the fabric or the damage being done to the camp.
Maybe the men tried to guess who would win. Maybe someone even tried to break up the fight. I imagine a long of noise – grunts of the fighting men, shuffling feet, rustling hems, the dull hum of conversation.
Imagine a dead silence. Everybody has frozen into place. No one is saying a word. The people are looking at each other in shock. “Did he just say what I think he just said?” At first it was a whisper but then the sound swelled as more persons repeat the question. Of course, no one wants to repeat it lest they also be considered guilty of blasphemy.
Finally someone grabs the offender and takes him to Moses. The entire camp follows as everyone wonders what will happen to him. After some time, the decision comes from God: “stone him to death.” Gasp! Where’s the grace?
Let me ask the question – who did the blasphemer hurt? Was it only himself? Was it God? Or was it both those persons along with every Israelite in the camp? By disrespecting God he hurt everybody. Had his crime gone unpunished he would have opened the door for every other member of the camp to walk through. Pretty soon the people would have had no more respect for the great Jehovah than the nations around them had for their idols.
And that’s where the grace is found – God made the hard decision to punish one man for the greater good of the entire tribe. God could have destroyed the entire camp but he didn’t. He chose to spare them and let the victim pay for his crime alone.
Besides, if the people felt pain to execute the punishment, how much more pain did God feel? The one who created and redeemed that man? God’s grace showed up when he put the congregation above any individual person. That’s the same grace that allowed him to send his innocent son to die for the many sins of the guilty.
Lord, thank you for not esteeming any individual life above the greater good of mankind – not even your son. Thank you for not withholding Jesus from us but for sending him to die a sinner’s death in my place. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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