What does it say?
Only one chapter (Num 7) occupies our reading today and it is long and repetitive. One might even say that it is boring and irrelevant. Don’t believe it!
After the tabernacle is assembled and consecrated, the princes (heads) of the 12 tribes bring offerings before the Lord. Together they give six covered wagons and 12 oxen that Moses divides among the sons of Gershon and Merari to transport the tabernacle. The very special furnishings of the sanctuary would still be carried on the shoulders of the Kohathites (7:1-11)
On each of the 12 days that follows, a different one of the 12 princes of Israel bring an offering: a silver platter and silver bowl, both filled with a grain offering; a golden spoon filled with incense; a bull, ram and lamb for a burnt offering; a male goat for a sin offering; and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five lambs for a peace offering. Each day for 12 days a different prince offers identical gifts.
What does it mean?
Though everything is finished according to the specifications given by God, the people discover a way to be a blessing through their giving by providing transport for the heavier parts of the tabernacle. Though the offerings clearly represent all the people, the 12 princes demonstrate leadership in giving. The leaders of the 12 tribes give freely and lovingly to advance God’s mission and move the tabernacle forward.
Observe that the offering is voluntary and spontaneous. Each gift is recorded in detail even though they are identical. God recognizes and appreciates the worshipful gifts of his people. This chapter is a good illustration of Paul’s words to the Corinthians that God loves a cheerful giver (1 Cor 9:7).
How will I respond?
This is one of the longer chapters in the Bible and it’s all consumed with the voluntary giving of God’s people. What are the one or two takeaway lessons I get from this chapter? What is my part in giving to advance the kingdom of God? What one step will I take this week to apply what I see in this chapter?