Life has rhythms. Activities that are dictated by the time of year, the turn of the calendar or the ebbs and flows of life. We set some of that rhythm. For instance, my family loves to camp, so we take opportunities in July and August when the kids are out of school to put that into our rhythm. But other parts of our life rhythm are set for us, like the timing of Christmas and Easter, the celebration of birthdays or anniversaries, the planting of our gardens (which may not be until June this year).
It is good and healthy to have rhythms in our lives. The provide stability, anchor points for what might be chaotic times. They give us something to look forward to and goals to plan for. If we are strategic about it, rhythms can also open up opportunities for growth. If we plan things like review periods for the past year, or a spiritual retreat or a spouses’ only weekend away, we open the possibility for healthy reflection and growth. Rhythms can be about lots of things, not just rest or relaxation or fun.
As we read these chapters in Numbers today, we find God setting some rhythm for the spiritual life of Israel. If there is one thing I think is lacking in a lot of Christian lives it is any sense of spiritual rhythm. Scripture reading, prayer, dedicated times of fasting and even regular worship are part of a healthy spiritual rhythm. These sacrifices and festivals may seem a bit over the top, but unless we put aside specific and targeted time for spiritual things, they can and do slip through the proverbial cracks.
The specific focus of Numbers 28 and 29 is worship. God wants his people to focus on worship. Seven times in these two chapters God describes the various sacrifices and assemblies as “an aroma pleasing to me”. Our worship is pleasing to God. But worship requires some guidance. Not necessarily in the type of worship we offer, but more in relation to the heart behind the worship. Romans encourages us to worship in “spirit and in truth”. In John 4 Jesus himself reiterates this point, and while he makes the point Jesus destroys some of the traditional understanding of what it means to worship God. God desires our whole lives to be a sacrifice of worship to him. Because when we are in that place, he can speak to us, he can use us to accomplish his will and he can bless us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
But we need to have that spiritual rhythm in our lives to cultivate that life of worship. The one thing we should be thankful for as we read these chapters is that the sacrificial system they describe has been completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That means, as Weirsbe puts it: “…that we have the privilege of coming into the presence of God at any time through the new and living way. As priests of God, we can bring to Him our spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5, 9): our bodies (Romans 12:1-2), people won to Christ (Romans 15:16), money and material gifts (Phil 4:18), worship and praise (Heb 13:15), good works (Heb 13:16), a broken heart (Ps 51:7) and believing prayer (Ps 141:1-2).”
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Numbers 31-32