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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 7

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Verses 1-3


Numbers 6, at the dedication of the Nazirites, is about voluntariness, but also about rules on how such voluntariness should happen. In Numbers 7 we have no rules. Here everything happens voluntarily, out of the desire to give God something for the sanctuary and the dedication of the altar. Everything is out of love; it is the reaction of the heart of the people.

The Offering of the Leaders

Why do we go back in the first verse to the setting up of the tabernacle that already happened in Exodus 40, a month earlier? Because this fits with the arrangement by the Holy Spirit of these books. What is mentioned here, fits precisely in the book of Numbers.

The overview below shows the sequence of events until the start of the wilderness journey:

First month, Day 1:
Setting up the tabernacle finished (Exodus 40:2)
Laws for the offerings (Numbers 7:1)
Offerings for the altar (Numbers 7:3)
Ordination of the priesthood (Leviticus 8:1)

First month, Day 8
Dedication of the priests finished (Leviticus 9:1)

First month, Day 12:
Offerings for the altar finished (Numbers 7:78)
Dedication of the Levites (Numbers 8:5)

First month, Day 14:
Second Passover (Numbers 9:2)

Second month, Day 1:
Start census (Numbers 1:1)

Second month, Day 14:
Passover for the unclean (Numbers 9:11)

Second month, Day 20:
The cloud is lifted, the journey starts (Numbers 10:11)

The leaders see the setting up of the tabernacle. This works a reaction with them. They realize that God is coming to dwell in their midst – God’s dwelling has the emphasis in Exodus – and that then service to Him can begin, now that the people have arrived in the wilderness. They come with their offering on the right day to encourage the service to Him in the wilderness. God accepts these gifts and determines what gifts are given to whom. The service that is done for Him is controlled by Him.

These offerings have to do with the service in the tabernacle, the testimony to the outside world. The leaders have understood that the Levites can use help when carrying the tabernacle through the wilderness. In the tabernacle, not only priestly service is performed, it is also carried through the wilderness. So it is with the church. We come together to serve God as priests, but it is also God’s intention that we express in our testimony in the world all that we have received in blessings.

Leaders give covered carts. What we have to transport are not things we show off. The two of them bring one cart. This points to the search for fellowship in the service with the aim of encouraging God’s work in the church. The leaders speak of the leaders among the believers, those who are in charge.

Verses 4-9

Distribution of the Carts and the Oxen

It seems that Moses is not fully aware of what to do with these gifts. It is not part of everything God has shown him about the tabernacle. But God indicates that Moses can accept them. They are the fruit of God-fearing souls, of men who have fellowship with God. What they bring is the result of spiritual considerations. God can accept that, because it was ultimately worked in them by Himself through His Spirit.

In the same way God wants to use in His service today means which He has not indicated as such in His Word, but which are the result of spiritual consultation with regards to the service in His house. The church is not a solidified business, but a dynamic one, always in motion. God accepts initiatives that respond to the concerns of the moment when they come from a spirit of dependence on the Spirit and are in accordance with the Word.

God decides to whom the carts are made available. God does not proceed in the way of people who would divide everything fairly. God regulates everything in such a way that faith and love are tested in order to accept that He acts according to His will and wisdom. When we agree with His different actions, we take the place of blessing. The heart so attuned to God’s actions will rejoice in what he sees of Christ in another, while he himself does not possess it. We can rejoice in what He has given us, but also in what He has withheld from us and entrusted to others.

God entrusts each person with what is necessary for the service. He knows what each one has to bear and provides the necessary strength. We can apply this to means that facilitate the work of the Lord’s servants (Titus 3:13; 3 John 1:6). In this way, if they come from another place, we can offer them accommodation, for example, to do their work in the church from our home. We can also support them financially.

The Gershonites get two carts and four oxen. They have the care for all the coverings. This speaks of the external testimony, the gospel.

The Merarites get four carts and eight oxen. They have the care for boards and pillars. That speaks of the care of the believers, the service of the shepherd. We can all help with the progress of the gospel and the care for the faithful.

The Kohathites care for what speaks of the Lord Jesus and His work. God takes care of the help in its progress. Human resources, such as theological training, have no place here. The heavenly things should be carried on the shoulders. Without anything that might impress people, they carry their precious treasures through the wilderness.

Here David makes a fatal mistake. He forgets the precept of the LORD and places the ark on a cart. It appears not to be a safer means, but a more vulnerable means: the oxen are nearly upset. Uzzah has to pay for that with death (2 Samuel 6:6-Judges :). The Philistines also put the ark on a cart, but they act out of ignorance (1 Samuel 6:7-1 Kings :).

Verses 10-11

The Dedication Offering for the Altar

Moses dedicated the altar in Exodus 40. There are no human resources involved in this service. We have the altar in a spiritual sense (Hebrews 13:10), which is the table of the Lord. Here we see that the altar is also dedicated by the leaders of the people. They show their appreciation for the altar. God rejoices that there are also people on earth who show their appreciation for the Lord Jesus and His work.

Verses 12-83

The Offering of Each Leader

These offerings have to do with the service at the altar, the testimony before God in the tabernacle. God’s great appreciation of the offerings of the leaders is shown by the enumeration of what each leader has given individually, although that seems to be a repetition of what another has given. Repetition is not a tiring activity for God. Thus, the repeated line in every verse of the 26 verses of Psalm 136 – “For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psalms 136:1-Ezekiel :) – is an expression of God’s lovingkindness as reaction on what is mentioned in the preceding line.

For God, what each person brings personally counts, and for Him it is not a pure repetition of what another person has brought. He doesn’t say, and we shouldn’t say, “That’s what someone else has already done or said.” God wants to hear it from each individual. Everyone is given the full opportunity to bring his offering and receives the full attention of God.

The fact that all bring the same shows a common understanding. Yet everyone brings it personally. For God, not only the total counts, but also what the individual brings. He sees the separate gift of each of His own, though many will bring the same as what another brings. In praise, we often use the same words, but God never says, “I have heard that before.” God sees in the praise of His people again and again the glorious work of His Son. And about that He gladly hears (Hebrews 13:15).

In the dedication offerings are offerings that are durable, such as the dishes and pans. There are also offerings that are no longer there after use, such as the different offerings. Furthermore, the daily offering is also important. Every day a gift is offered to God.

In the gift of the leaders, the sacrifice of the peace offering occupies a prominent place. But first they offer dishes and pans. Those silver dishes and gold pans speak of believers. They can, if they separate themselves from sin, serve at the altar (2 Timothy 2:20-Ecclesiastes :). Those who have a place of responsibility in the local church can bring such believers to the Lord. They can offer them in the prayers.

The silver dishes are filled to the brim (“full”) with fine flour mixed with oil and the gold pans are filled to the brim (“full”) with incense. In the lives of such believers, God sees abundantly Who the Lord Jesus has been in His life on earth. The fine flour speaks of the perfect life of the Lord Jesus. Mixed with oil speaks of the fact that He has let Himself be guided in everything by the Holy Spirit. The incense indicates that such a life is a pleasant scent for God.

As offerings are offered burnt offerings, a sin offering and peace offerings. This shows that the leaders have an insight into the distinction between the offerings. Leaders among the believers know the different aspects of the work of the Lord Jesus. That there are different kinds of burnt offerings indicates that there are different aspects in what the Lord Jesus did for God.

There is only one animal as a sin offering. The aspect of the forgiveness of sins does not occupy the greatest place. They are more filled with Him as a burnt offering and still more as a peace offering. The peace offering is the offering that expresses the fellowship between God and His people and between the members of the people with each other.

The order in which the leaders bring their offerings begins with Judah and ends with Naphtali. That is the same order as the one in which the tribes camp described in Numbers 2.

Verses 84-88

Totals of the Dedication Offering

Everything is added up by God. But it is not a great heap for God: it is the sum of the individual parts. After twelve days God counts:
1. twelve silver dishes, each one hundred and thirty shekels (about one and a half kilos) filled with fine flour mixed with oil;
2. twelve silver bowls, each seventy shekels (about eight hundred grams) filled with fine flour mixed with oil;
3. twelve golden bowls, each ten shekels (about one hundred and ten grams) filled with incense;
4. twelve oxen for the burnt offering and the accompanying grain offering;
5. twelve rams for the burnt offering and the accompanying grain offering;
6. twelve male lambs one year old for the burnt offering and the accompanying grain offering;
7. Twelve male goats for a sin offering;
8. 24 bulls for a peace offering;
9. 60 rams for a peace offering;
10. 60 male goats for a peace offering;
11. 60 male lambs one year old for a peace offering.

What a joy it must be for Him if at the end of a meeting on the first day of the week, where we have honored Him with the dedication offerings – our sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:15) – that each of us has brought to Him, He can add this up.

Verse 89

The LORD Speaks to Moses

Moses enters the tent of meeting to speak with God. Moses is a picture of the Lord Jesus as the Teacher Who hears and reveals the thoughts of God. It is significant that this happens after the description of the voluntary offerings brought by the leaders. God then makes His thoughts known. He can only really share His thoughts when we have a willing heart that is full of admiration for the Lord Jesus.

Despite all the hustle and bustle of his leadership, or maybe that is why, Moses finds and takes the time to be with the LORD, to speak with Him and to listen to Him. The silence of the sanctuary is the appropriate place for this.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Numbers 7". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/numbers-7.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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