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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Numbers 28

Verses 3-10



Numbers 28:3-10. Thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the Lord; two lambs of the first year without spot, day by day, for a continual burnt-offering. The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even; and a tenth part of an ephah of flour for a meat-offering, mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil. It is a continual burnt-offering, which was ordained in Mount Sinai for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord. And the drink-offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the Lord for a drink-offering. And the other lamb shalt thou offer at even: as the meat-offering of the morning, and as the drink-offering thereof, thou shalt offer it, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. And on the Sabbath-day, two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth-deals of flour for a meat-offering, mingled with oil, and the drink-offering thereof. This is the burnt-offering of every Sabbath, beside the continual burnt-offering, and his drink-offering.

THIS burnt-offering, our text informs us, “was ordained in Mount Sinai,” nearly forty years before the period at which it was again enjoined [Note: Exodus 29:38-41.]. Commentators are not agreed respecting the reason of its being again so circumstantially repeated. Some have thought that the observance of this ordinance had been entirely neglected in the wilderness; and that from hence arose the necessity of enjoining it again, in order that it might not be neglected when they should come into the land of Canaan. Nor is this opinion without some foundation: for the prophet Amos, and after him the first martyr, Stephen, complains of the most grievous neglect of duty among the Israelites in the wilderness, and of their worshipping idols in preference to the living God: “It is written in the book of the Prophets,” says Stephen, “O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon [Note: Amos 5:25-27; Acts 7:42-43.].” But it is altogether incredible that Moses should have suffered such a public dereliction of duty as this: and, if he had, it is impossible that God should have spoken of him as a servant “faithful in all his house.” We apprehend therefore that it was not of these sacrifices which depended upon Aaron and Moses, but of other sacrifices which depended more upon the people, and which they had neglected to offer on the proper occasions, that the prophet speaks: and consequently, that there was some other reason for renewing the appointment of the ordinance before us. The true reason seems to be, that, as all who had come out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, had perished in the wilderness, and as Aaron was dead, and Moses himself had but two or three months to live, it was desirable that this new generation should have this ordinance enjoined from God himself, that they might be duly impressed with a sense of its great importance. The repetition of it moreover is of use to us, inasmuch as it shews us, that some deep mystery must be contained in it, and that much valuable instruction is to be derived from it. Let us then consider,

I. The matter of which this offering consisted—

There were two very distinct offerings united;

1. The lamb—

[This was to be “of the first year,” and “without spot;” and it was to be slain, and then consumed by fire upon the altar, as “a sacrifice of a sweet savour unto the Lord.”

Can any one doubt what this imported? Can any one fail to see in this a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom one Apostle speaks of as “a lamb without blemish, and without spot [Note: 1 Peter 1:19.];” and another Apostle represents as “the Lamb,” even “the Lamb that was slain [Note: Revelation 5:8-9.],” to whom all the glorified saints in heaven ascribe the honour of their salvation, saying, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb [Note: Revelation 7:10.]!” It is worthy of observation, that the very first sacrifices of which any mention is made in Scripture, were lambs. It was “of the firstlings of his flock” that Abel offered; and by that offering he obtained very peculiar tokens of God’s favour and acceptance [Note: Genesis 4:4 with Hebrews 11:4.]. And there is reason to believe, that the skins, with which Adam and Eve were, by God’s appointment, clothed immediately after the fall, were of lambs which they had previously offered in sacrifice [Note: Genesis 3:21.]: and in reference to this early appointment, as well as to the everlasting decrees of God, the Lord Jesus is called “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world [Note: Revelation 13:8.].” We shall not detain you in order to point out the correspondence between Christ and these spotless lambs, in the perfection of his nature, in the holiness of his life, or in the intent of his death: but, passing by these things as known and understood among you [Note: If this Discourse were delivered in a congregation that was unaccustomed to hear such subjects treated of, the parallel should be distinctly drawn.], we shall content ourselves with saying, that, in this offering, there was virtually the same proclamation made to the Jews, as was afterwards expressly made by John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world [Note: John 1:29; John 1:36.]!”]

2. The meat-offering and the drink-offering—

[With the lamb a portion of flour, about three quarts, was to be offered, mixed up with somewhat more than a quart of beaten oil: and whilst they and the lamb were burning together upon the altar, some strong generous wine, (of equal quantity with the oil,) was to be poured out as a libation: and the whole together being consumed by fire, was “of sweet savour unto the Lord.”

The meaning of this is not so clear as that which relates to the lamb. It may possibly be a tribute of thanksgiving to God for all his mercies, which are comprehended under the terms, “corn, and wine, and oil:” and, in that view, the ordinance will be a compound of prayer and praise, corresponding with that injunction of St. Paul, “in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God [Note: Philippians 4:6.].” But we rather suppose that there is an allusion made here to feasts, of which corn and wine and oil were very distinguished parts: and that the consumption of these upon the altar was intended to convey the idea, that God himself feasted with his people, and would always meet them with tokens of his love, whensoever they came to him as sinners, trusting in the atonement that should in due time be offered for them. This interpretation is clearly countenanced by the gracious promises which God made, when first he instituted this ordinance on Mount Sinai; saying, “There will I meet you, to speak there unto thee: and there will I meet with the children of Israel; and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory [Note: Exodus 29:42-43.].” In this view the ordinance is most instructive; in that it announces the truths proclaimed afterwards by the voice of Christ himself, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me;” and, “him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out [Note: John 6:37; John 14:6.].”]

That which distinguishes this offering from all others will be found particularly in,

II. The manner in which it was presented—

Many offerings were only occasional; but this was stated, and was renewed daily throughout the year. The things to which we would more particularly call your attention are,

1. The union of the different materials—

[Meat-offerings and drink-offerings were indeed sometimes offered with other sacrifices; and sometimes also by themselves: but here they were constantly presented and consumed with the lamb. Now, if we regard them as expressions of gratitude to God, they shew, that with our acknowledgments of guilt we should invariably render unto God a tribute of praise. If, on the other hand, we regard them as presented unto God in order that by the consumption of them on his altar he may express, as it were, his communion with us, and his acceptance of us, then they shew, that, in our applications for mercy through the Redeemer’s sacrifice, we should draw nigh to God with a confidence of finding favour in his sight. Now such an union of feelings and dispositions in our hearts is most desirable. We are not so to lean to the side of humiliation as to encourage despondency, nor so to confide in God as to lose all our tenderness and contrition: but we should at all times “rejoice with trembling [Note: Psalms 2:11.],” and tremble with rejoicing.]

2. The frequency with which they were offered—

[Every morning and every evening were they to be offered throughout the year; and from this circumstance they were called “a continual burnt-offering.” Now there were two things in particular, which this circumstance was calculated to impress on the people’s minds; the one was their continual need of an atoning sacrifice; the other was, the continued efficacy of that which should in due time be offered. Not a day passed but they were repeatedly reminded, even the whole congregation, that they were sinners before God, and must seek salvation through Him whom this offering typified: (O that we also might bear in mind that salutary lesson!) they were reminded too that there was in this sacrifice a sufficiency for the sins of the whole world. Not the greatest sinner in all Israel was excepted, if he did but really with penitential sorrow seek for pardon in this way: nor, as long as the world shall stand, shall any one plead the merits of the Redeemer’s sacrifice in vain. The shadows were repeated, because they were shadows: but Christ who is the substance, has made a complete atonement for the sins of the whole world, and “by one offering of himself hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified [Note: Hebrews 10:14.].”]

3. The increase of them on the Sabbath-day—

[This n particularly noticed in the text: the lambs, and the meat and drink-offerings, were doubled on that day. What a reverence for the Sabbath was this calculated to inspire! It shewed to all, that though that day is a day of rest from worldly business, it ought to be a day of peculiar exertion in the things of God. Then should all the faculties of the soul be summoned to the service, or, I should rather say, to the enjoyment, of God. We should keep a holy feast unto him, and seek a more abundant measure of communion with him. In the closet, in the family, in the public assembly, we should be endeavouring to advance his glory: in a word, we should labour to spend the whole day, as it were, in “fellowship with him, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” Not that we need to be all the day in acts of devotion; it is the habit, which we should particularly attend to; and we may vary our services, so as to render them all more easy and delightful — — — Shall it be thought that under the Gospel this strictness is not necessary? We answer, that, though the ceremonial part of the Sabbath is superseded, the moral part remains; and, on that, as well as every other day, our sacrifices, instead of being diminished, should be increased. It is of the times of the Gospel that Ezekiel speaks, though in terms taken from the law: and the attentive reader will see, that more is required of us than of the Jews; and that both our services and enjoyments should be augmented in proportion to our superior advantages [Note: Ezekiel 46:14 on common days; and Ezekiel 46:4-5 on the Sabbath-day.]. Let not us be sparing of our services, and God will not be sparing of his communications [Note: Isaiah 64:5.].]

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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Numbers 28". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.