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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:You Are His -- Time Itself Tolls It!
Text:Numbers 28:11-15 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2006-07-09
Added:2010-06-25
Updated:2011-03-03
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


NUMBERS 28:11-15

(Reading: Colossians 2:6-23; Numbers 28:1-15)

 

You Are His – Time Itself Tolls It!

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ…

 

     We can easily take time for granted.

          And when I say “time” I don’t only mean how we spend each day but also the type of calendar we use.

              Because how often do we think about that?

 

     Well, unless we knew about it, we wouldn’t think about it at all.

          And who of us knows about the kind of calendar we use?

 

     Ah, you say, it’s the Gregorian calendar we use.

          The calendar that has 365 days and irregular months.

 

     But this is the Roman calendar, also known as the Western Calendar.

          A calendar based on the earth’s rotation around the sun.

              And it has been with us in one shape or another since 45 B.C..

                   It’s most recent adaptation is called the Gregorian Calendar and it occurred in 1582.

 

     Before that, however, the common calendar was the lunar one.

          That was more consistent than the Gregorian calendar.

              For with that calendar the months were always the same length.

 

     Because they don’t correspond with the sun, though, it means that the lunar month which starts on a particular day in a month this year will fall on a different day next year.

          We find that out with the date for Easter.

               Each year it’s on a different date.

     Sometimes the difference can be as much as three weeks!

          That’s because Easter is calculated on the lunar calendar.

 

     It’s because of this that we know Passover occurs in the same week as Easter.

          And we can tie down the Ascension and Pentecost down to an exact day.

 

     So, strictly speaking, the Sabbath that the Orthodox Jews insist on keeping and the Seventh Day Adventists make a big fuss about often isn’t actually on the proper day!

          Because the lunar calendar would have it falling on other days of our week just as much as it actually falls on Saturday.

 

     Mind you, I’m sure they’d have some explanation for this.

          Like, for example, you shouldn’t be too literal about these things!

 

     Anyway, we divert a little here.

          The point is that the ancient Hebrews had a different Calendar.

              A calendar which had for it’s beginning the first day of each month.

 

     In comparison, the beginning of our calendar is the 1st January.

          That equates to a full cycle around the sun.

             

     The ancient Hebrew’s calendar, however, matched up with the cycle of the moon.

          So when just the barest crescent of the moon showed up in the night sky it was the new moon.

 

     There are other interesting parallels here also.

          For what is it that we often do as we’re about to begin a new year?

              Don’t we have those traditions encouraging reflection upon where we are and where we’re going?

     We talk about our new year’s resolutions.

          We sing ‘auld lang syne’ which is a toast to those you’ve known in the past – those who are dear to you.

 

     Well, here the Lord lays down the traditions which will keep His people focussed upon Him.

          That’s why we see, in the first place, THE NEW MOON STARTS THEM LOOKING UP.

 

     Congregation, in the land they’re about to enter, Israel will find people who also celebrate the new moon.

          In fact, the pagan rituals there were quite involved at that time.

              They had a whole multitude of astral deities they worshipped then in superstitious adoration.

 

     Because that’s what it was – superstition!

          They did it out of fear.

 

     Now, what they did may have seemed to be quite free.

          They got into all kinds of drunken and immoral behaviour.

              But how much don’t we know that that actually traps people?

     There’s no joy there.

          Only that terrible tormenting of realising so soon after that it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

 

     For God’s people, however, there wasn’t to be any of this.

          This was no Friday the 13th type superstition.

              There’s nothing to be scared about here.

      This was actually giving this new month over to the Lord.

          It was all about loving the One who loves you so much!

 

     Like we do with having a public holiday on New Year’s Day so also this day was to be the same.

          Because, like the Sabbath day offerings, this was additional to the daily offerings.

             

     Yet, it was even more than the Sabbath day offerings.

          For if the Sabbath day offerings at mid-day put the focus of the day clearly on the Lord and His will for that day, imagine how much this even bigger offering turned the people to the Lord.

             

     There’s more than two lambs here!

          Verse 11 says there are two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old!

              So, there were seven lambs – all of them male – and the ram and the two young bulls.

     This is equal to the biggest offering of any time in their church year!

          So the Lord takes seriously His Lordship over time.

         

     Congregation, this is what we say with the acronym A.D. when we speak of a particular year.

          For example, this year is the year 2010, A.D..

 

     The letters A.D., stand for ‘Anno Domini’.

          This is Latin for “in the year of our Lord.”

              It recognises that our present era of time is based on the traditional date for the birth of Jesus Christ.

 

     Imagine what a contrast Israel would have been with the nations around them, when they worshipped like this?

          They were following a clear and solemn pattern in looking up, while those around become completely intoxicated in their selfish pagan rituals.

 

     It’s no surprise, then, that, over time, this day became almost like a feast day.

          Trade became suspended on this day, as Amos 8 verse 5 says.

              The deeply religious Israelites went to hear the prophets teach this day, as 2nd Kings 4 verse 23 tells us.

     Many families and households presented yearly thank-offerings on this day, which 1st Samuel 20 verses 6 and 29 details.

          And even later still, the most devout abstained from fasting (Judith 8:6).

              So they went so far as to break their fasts to eat, because it so much resembled the Sabbath.

                   This is what the prophets speak about, as Isaiah (1:13), Hosea (2:13), and Ezekiel (46:1) state.

 

     On the new moon day, God’s people looked up.

          They laid themselves before the One who holds everything in His hand.

              As the psalmist says in Psalm 89 verse 37, the moon is “the faithful witness in the sky.”

                   And in Psalm 104 verse 19, he says, “The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.”

 

     So, as well as starting and ending each day worshipping the Lord; as well as ending each week coming together before Him; they also took this other time – the beginning of their earthly time – to look up to Him.

          And not only did the new moon start their looking up to the Lord, in the second place, THE NEW MOON KEEPS THEM OPENING UP.

 

     Congregation, did you notice what else different is happening on this day?

          In fact, this other different thing is a major difference altogether!

    

     For the bulls and the ram, and the extra five lambs, were more than before.

          But they were still burnt offerings to the Lord.

              Now, though, there is another kind of offering – a ‘sin’ offering.

                   That’s what the male goat in verse 15 is said to be.

         

     You see, the amount of burnt offerings have lifted this day on a higher level than the daily offerings and the Sabbatical offerings, because the new moon starts them looking up.

          But now this other offering has them opening up what they are within.

              For the ongoing worship of the Lord couldn’t be that pleasing aroma without this confession of their sin.

                   Psalm 51 is quite clear that the heart of true worship are humbled hearts.

 

     This would be particularly seen with one of their annual feasts but it’s also here because no time period can be without it.

          In fact, to miss it out or to not do it from the heart means we would be cutting ourselves off from the Lord.

 

     So important is this that in Leviticus 4 the sin offering where an equivalent animal is used is the offering made for when one of their leaders sinned unintentionally.

          When that man has broken one of God’s commands by omission this is the offering that has to be made.

             

     We can take it then that this offering is on behalf of the sins of all of Israel done unintentionally.

          Because if it were done intentionally there’s a whole range of other offerings to be made.

              And then there’s the punishment that needs to be meted out as well.

 

     So the new month begins with this recognition that we have sinned – not only knowingly but also unknowingly.

          We are so inadequate we must confess what we don’t know we have done as well.

 

     You can see how everything is put in the Lord’s light.

          On our own we would only slip away from Him.

              Then we would be in the dark!

 

     But this keeps His own humble before Him.

          Then they can truly be blessed.

              For no one who is full of himself can honestly worship this way.

 

     This is what David said in Psalm 40.

          He took it to the heart of the matter.

              In verse 8 he prayed, “To do your will, O God, is my desire; your law is within my heart.”

 

     But here is where there is the fundamental difference between the ancient saints and us today.

          For where they were with the Lord was very much wrapped up in where their leaders stood before Him.

              Or should I say, if their leaders bowed before Him?

 

     That’s why these offerings, extensive though they were, could only be shadows of the things that were to come.

          Colossians 2 verse 17 is clear about that.

              For the substance is found in Christ.

 

     Congregation, we can use an analogy here – a comparison.

          You see, the moon’s light is only reflected sunlight.

              And it’s only a very partial reflection even at the best of times.

     And in the same way the new moon offerings are only a small things compared with when the Son Himself would come!

          They’re only a shadow.

         

     Because no matter the quantities of the offerings made they were nothing compared with the ultimate offering of Himself Christ will make!

          Even though there were 113 bulls, 32 rams, 1086 lambs, over a ton of flour, and a thousand bottles of oil and wine the priests offered every year it all palled into insignificance in the light of the Son.

              He takes every sin that ever there was, or will be, and nails it to the cross!

 

     But those ancients weren’t sold short either.

          The Lord gave them what they needed when they needed it if they in faith obeyed His Word.

              Then they were richly blessed in a physical way that gives us a foretaste of what we may have spiritually now, and certainly what we will have physically and spiritually upon the new heavens and the new earth!

 

     In the time of the text, they were being well prepared for taking possession of the promised land.

          Because by dedicating all their time to the Lord, He would bless them in this land flowing with milk and honey.

              But as soon as they took their eyes off the Lord, if they were to fall into those pagan ways, then every day would be a curse.

 

     Moses in Psalm 90 verse 12 prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

          It was by keeping to the Lord’s days that they would grow in knowing God and doing His will.

              Going the other way only meant your days were definitely numbered!

 

     But the exhortation comes to us also.

          The apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 warned us about this.

              He says in the verses 15 and 16, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

 

     Of course Paul didn’t mean that time itself is bad.

          But he was talking about the danger of the world we live in.

 

     Friend, you think about how you spend your time.

          And then think about how the Lord could find you if He came back at any time.

              Would you always be found doing His will?

                   Or would you have to quickly switch off that program you were watching, hide away that magazine or book you were reading, or quickly stop whatever else you were doing?

 

     If you had to do that, you wouldn’t be redeeming the time for the Lord.

          It’s all his time, isn’t it?

              And aren’t you His – all the time?

                   Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

 

     Lord God, teach us to look to You all the time.

          And where we don’t give You the time, stir our hearts so that we confess that and change from that.

              Then You will bless us - because then we’re truly open to You.

     That’s the way we will always have the time for You.

          In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

    

 

    

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2006, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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