1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel and say to them, ‘My offering, my food for my food offerings, my pleasing aroma, you shall be careful to offer to me at its appointed time.’ 3 And you shall say to them, This is the food offering that you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a regular offering. 4 The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; 5 also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with a quarter of a hin of beaten oil. 6 It is a regular burnt offering, which was ordained at Mount Sinai for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. 7 Its drink offering shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb. In the Holy Place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the Lord. 8 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight. Like the grain offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
9 “On the Sabbath day, two male lambs a year old without blemish, and two tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering: 10 this is the burnt offering of every Sabbath, besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.
11 “At the beginnings of your months, you shall offer a burnt offering to the Lord: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; 12 also three tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for each bull, and two tenths of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for the one ram; 13 and a tenth of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering for every lamb; for a burnt offering with a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. 14 Their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, a third of a hin for a ram, and a quarter of a hin for a lamb. This is the burnt offering of each month throughout the months of the year. 15 Also one male goat for a sin offering to the Lord; it shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. – Numbers 28:1-15 ESV
In preparing the second generation of Israelites to begin their conquest of the land of Canaan, God had ordered a census to determine the size of Israel’s fighting force and to establish each tribe’s land apportionment. He also reminded the people that the tribe of Levi would inherit no land in Canaan. For their role as priests and caretakers of the tabernacle, they would receive cities in which to live and a portion of the tithes and offerings presented by the people. God would be their portion, providing for all their needs in exchange for their service to Him. Finally, God made preparations for new leadership by handpicking Joshua as the replacement for Moses.
All was ready. The time had come for the people to obey the commands of God and begin the conquest of the land He had promised Abraham centuries earlier.
“I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession.” – Genesis 13:15 NLT
God had also told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. And God gave this bit of good news while Abraham and his wife were still childless. Sarah remained barren and unable to conceive. But God had told Abraham, “you will have a son of your own who will be your heir” (Genesis 15:4 NLT). But this revelation was followed by a shocking admission from God.
“You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) After four generations your descendants will return here to this land…” – Genesis 15:13-16 NLT
All the promises God had made to Abraham had been fulfilled. Sarah had given birth to Isaac, and from Isaac had come Jacob. The family of Jacob had eventually fled to Egypt because there was a famine in the land of Canaan. And while in Egypt, the number of Israelites grew so significantly that the Pharaoh feared an uprising and ordered their enslavement. He even instituted a pogrom designed to eliminate all the male babies born to the Israelites. But true to His promise, God had delivered the Israelites from their captivity and led them to the border of Canaan.
Now, He called on them to keep the commands He had given them at Mount Sinai. He had been faithful to do all that He had promised to Abraham, and He fully expected them to show their gratitude by maintaining their relationship with Him.
“Give these instructions to the people of Israel: The offerings you present as special gifts are a pleasing aroma to me; they are my food. See to it that they are brought at the appointed times and offered according to my instructions.” – Numbers 28:2 NLT
The offerings outlined in this chapter are mandatory and non-optional. They were annual sacrifices to be offered by the Levites on behalf of the people. As the people entered the land, they would find themselves consumed with warfare and trying to establish lives for themselves in the new land. God knew they would face a strong temptation to forget about Him.
“The real key to successful conquest of Canaan and happy living within its borders was continual fellowship with God. Hence it was that God at this time presented to the new generation by way of Moses a finalized and complete set of regulations for offerings, most of which had already been given at Sinai. Their observance would encourage an intimate worship of God by the people in the land (cf. Exod. 23:14-17; 29:38-42; 31:12-17; Lev. 23; Num. 25:1-12).” – Irving L. Jensen, Numbers: Everyman’s Bible Commentary
God was going to give them victory over their enemies. Their conquest of the land would be successful, and God knew that their success would go to their heads and tempt them to think that they had done it all on their own. That is why Moses provided them with an advance warning about the temptations they would face in the new land.
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks and fountains and springs that flow through the valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and whose hills are ready to be mined for copper. When you eat and are satisfied, you are to bless the LORD your God for the good land that He has given you.
Be careful not to forget the LORD your God by failing to keep His commandments and ordinances and statutes, which I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses in which to dwell, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud, and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. – Deuteronomy 8:7-14 BSB
God outlined the various offerings the people were required to make. He began with the daily offerings.
“This is the special gift you must present to the Lord as your daily burnt offering. You must offer two one-year-old male lambs with no defects.” – Numbers 28:3 NLT
Then He added the less-frequent but no less mandatory weekly offerings.
“On the Sabbath day, sacrifice two one-year-old male lambs with no defects. They must be accompanied by a grain offering of four quarts of choice flour moistened with olive oil, and a liquid offering. This is the burnt offering to be presented each Sabbath day, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its accompanying liquid offering.” – Numbers 28:9-10 NLT
Finally, God reiterated the monthly offerings.
“On the first day of each month, present an extra burnt offering to the Lord of two young bulls, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs, all with no defects.” – Numbers 28:11 NLT
“On the first day of each month, you must also offer one male goat for a sin offering to the Lord.” – Numbers 28:15 NLT
The list is long and includes a large number of sacrifices, including burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings. There were burnt offerings and sin offerings. Bulls, goats, lambs, and rams were to be slaughtered and their blood spilled so that sins could be atoned for and fellowship with God maintained. Burnt offerings were to be seen as a pleasing aroma to God. They brought Him pleasure. All of this was about maintaining a right relationship with God. He would be the key to their victories over their enemies. He would be the source of their strength and their rock and provider. Without Him, they would be just another nation vying for control of the land of Canaan. But as long as they maintained their fellowship with Him through obedience to His commands, they would enjoy His presence, power, and provision.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.