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Sabbath School Lessons on Numbers
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 3: Worship and Dedication *
Introduction: This week we turn to the process for equipping God's
sanctuary. How does God want to obtain the equipment for His work?
How does He want to obtain the workers? If support comes from
offerings? Should everyone give the same gift? Can anyone be too old
to work for God? Let's plunge into our study of Numbers and learn
some more about God's instructions on these issues!
- Read Numbers 7:1-2. Focus on the picture: God's
tabernacle is erected, furnished and even has all of its
utensils in place. The head of the families made
offerings that made this possible. We are always
interested in God's view of offerings. Did every person
make an offering? (It says the tribal leaders made them.)
- Why not require everyone to make an offering?
- Read Numbers 7:3. What do you think about these
offerings? Did every tribal leader examine his heart and
decide what he would give? (No. This is a co-ordinated
effort. No doubt Moses told them what was needed and they
- Have you ever done this before: given what was
needed as opposed to giving money in general?
- Which approach do you think would be more
productive? (I understand people give more for
projects. They can see what they are giving
for and they feel more involved.)
- Read Numbers 7:4-8. On what basis were the carts and oxen
distributed? ("As each man's work requires.")
- Is that how we distribute the offerings in our
- In my conference, they look at the church
membership, the attendance, the tithe and they come
up with a formula to determine how many pastors your
church should have. Does that reflect what "each
man's work requires?"
- What if church leaders just looked around and asked:
"Where is God's work best progressing? What is
producing results? We will put the money there."
Would that be consistent with what is going on in
- Read Numbers 7:10-11. This is a dedication offering. One
leader brings his dedication offering each day for twelve
days. Is this just an offering, or is this a ceremony?
- Should we make our offerings into ceremonies?
- We tend to try to minimize our offerings. Some
churches have an offering box at the back and never
call for an offering. Should we sometimes focus on
- Read Numbers 7:12-17. We won't read the next eleven days
of gifts because they are all the same. My wife's
birthday is coming up soon. I like this idea of knowing
exactly what the offering should be! Unfortunately, I'm
left with very little guidance. What should we conclude
from the fact that everyone gave the same thing?
- If you scan over Numbers 2, you will see that some
divisions/tribes were five times larger than others.
Is this God's view that everyone should give the
same amount regardless of ability to pay? (This is
not the entire picture we find in the Bible. The
tithe ( Leviticus 27:30-32) was based on "income," it
was not a set amount each person paid. It increased
with increased income.)
- Do you think the ceremonial aspect of this offering
has something to do with the amount of this
offering? (Yes. Read Numbers 7:84. These are the
plates and bowels for the tabernacle. They needed
twelve identical sets. Every tribe had an equal
share in the worship service. I doubt this offering
strained the resources of even the smallest division
of the people.)
- Is this how our offerings are normally viewed:
as an opportunity to be involved in the work?
(The overriding theme here is that the people
gave offerings that they could see were part of
the worship system. Every tribe was a part of
- God's Voice
- Read Numbers 7:89. When we studied Genesis we thought it
was great that Adam and Eve got to speak face to face
with God. When we studied Acts, we thought it was great
that the Holy Spirit was so obviously involved in the
work. Whose idea was it for this meeting between God and
Moses? (It says Moses intended to speak with God.)
- Moses is the leader. He is one of perhaps a million
Israelites. What does this teach us about God
speaking to us? Is it like winning the lottery? We
have to be a Moses - one in a million?
- Read Hebrews 4:14-16. What does that suggest
about our ability to approach God? What does it
suggest about our ability to speak with God?
(We can approach God "with confidence." The
text says nothing specific about actually
talking with God, but it indicates that if we
come to God we will "find grace to help us in
our time of need." Some communication is going
on because we are promised results!)
- Numbers 8:5-22 describes the dedication of the Levites to
the work of the tabernacle. I want to focus on just a
small part of God's instructions. Read Numbers 8:23-26.
What does this say is God's view of retirement?
- Read Luke 12:16-20. What does this suggest is God's view
- Do we know this man's age? (No.)
- What do we know about his general wealth? (He was so
wealthy he did not know where to store his most
- Why did the man retire? (He did not retire because
of age, he retired because of his wealth - he did
not need to work.)
- Read Luke 12:21. What does Jesus say is the problem with
this man? (He focused on himself rather than God. He
focused on his pleasures rather than God's will - at a
time when he could still work.)
- I've often heard it said that the Bible says nothing
about retirement. (I hear this from people who are saying
silence means we should not retire.) They add that, if
anything, Luke 12:18-20 says something negative about
retirement. My own plan is to never retire as long as I
can still work. However, I never previously noticed
Numbers 8:25. Can you reconcile it with Luke 12? (If you
look carefully at Luke 12, it does not provide specific
counsel on age and work. Although many people become
wealthy enough in their later years to stop working, Luke
12 addresses money and work.)
- Let's get back to Numbers 8:25-26. The text says "must
retire" and "work no longer" but it also says "may assist
their brothers in performing their duties." If you "must
retire" what is this "may assist their brothers" part?
Can you reconcile those two instructions? (A number of
commentaries suggest that at fifty the Levites went from
"regular service" to an advisory role. They were giving
instruction and advice.)
- Read Deuteronomy 31:1-2. At what age did Moses retire?
- Why such a disparity with the Levites? Moses served
more than twice as long as the Levites!
- What rule should we find in these texts about
retirement? (It is not wrong to retire from regular
work at a certain age. However, God can continue to
use us in His work for our entire life.)
- Friend, our study this week lends support to the idea
that God has different approaches to offerings and
different approaches to personal service. In some
situations God desires one thing and in another He wants
something else. Will you be flexible and open to God's
will for your service?
- Next week: Trumpets, Blood, Cloud and Fire.
* Copr. 2009, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.