Numbers 15, Psalm 51, Isaiah 5, Hebrews 12

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 7, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 15

Numbers 15:32–33, 35 (ESV) 32 While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. … And the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.”

Putting a man to death for gathering sticks may seem disproportionately harsh, but we must understand how egregious it is to willfully transgress the Lord’s commandment in keeping the Sabbath. To use this day to work toward accumulating worldly wealth or comfort is to undermine God and the blessings of sabbath mercies He has given. While we no longer live in a culture that has such a consequence for breaking the Sabbath, the importance of keeping this solemn day of rest yet remains.

Psalm 51

Psalm 51:16–17 (ESV) 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

David acknowledges that the Lord does not delight in superficial sacrifice, even expressing his willingness to give it if that was what He wanted. He understands—as we should—that the Lord responds to the sacrifices of a broken spirit, a heart tender with great sorrow for sin, desperate for salvation in Christ and obedient to His Word. “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2b)

Isaiah 5

Isaiah 5:20–21 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!

Woe is declared against those who wantonly pervade in sin and espouse a wicked, inverted perspective. It is not only unhelpful to live unaligned with the objective reality presented in God’s natural and special revelation, it will end in judgement. Self-aggrandized wisdom is folly and leads to destruction. As we live in this fallen world, daily bombarded with lies and proponents of darkness, God’s people should be all the more diligent to be saturated in the immutable truth of God’s Word.

Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12:28–29 (ESV) 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

What an amazing exhortation to receive the unshakable kingdom of God and offer to Him acceptable worship with reverence and awe. By His grace, we are crushed with His exalted majesty as a consuming fire which compels our rightful worship. Let us come before Him in humble prostration and offer the worship due His name.

Carson on Psalm 51

Steeped as he is in the sacrificial system of the Mosaic covenant, David nevertheless adopts more fundamental priorities. The prescribed sacrifices mean nothing apart from the sacrifice of a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart (51:16–19)

Expanding on the reflection above, Carson points out that David is well-versed in the sacrificial system of the Mosaic covenant but also understands their futility if not performed with a broken and contrite heart. God’s abhorrence of such shallow practices is similarly spoken in the first chapter of Isaiah: “Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.” (Is. 1:13)