I attended my sister Elaine's church this morning, Ledgewood Baptist in Ledgewood, NJ. Her pastor is doing a series in the book of Numbers. The message was so good and so appropriate to some things I am going through and trying to help a friend go through. I just wanted to share it with you.
ACCOMMODATION -- TO A POINT
Pastor David Holwick
The LORD gave these instructions to Moses in early spring, during the second year after Israel's departure from Egypt, while he and the rest of the Israelites were in the wilderness of Sinai: "Tell the Israelites to celebrate the Passover at the proper time, at twilight on the appointed day in early spring. Be sure to follow all my laws and regulations concerning this celebration."
So Moses told the people to celebrate the Passover in the wilderness of Sinai as twilight fell on the appointed day. And they celebrated the festival there, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. But some of the men had been ceremonially defiled by touching a dead person, so they could not offer their Passover lambs, that day. So they came to Moses and Aaron that day and said, "We have become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person. But why should we be excluded from presenting the LORD's offering at the proper time with the rest of the Israelites?"
Moses answered, "Wait here until I have received instructions for you from the LORD."
This was the LORD's reply: "Say to the Israelites: 'If any of the people now or in future generations are ceremonially unclean at Passover time because of touching a dead body, or if they are on a journey and cannot be present at the cremony, they may still celebrate the LORD's Passover. They must offer the Passover sacrifice one month later, at twilight on the appointed day. They must eat the lamb at that time with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. They must not leave any of the lamb until the next morning, and they must not break any of its bones. They must follow all the normal regulations concerning the Passover.
"'But those who are ceremonially clean and not away on a trip, yet still refuse to celebrate the Passover at the regular time, will be cut off from the community of Israel for failing to present the LORD's offering at the proper time. They will suffer the consequences of their guilt. And if foreigners living among you want to celebrate the Passover to the LORD, they must follow these same laws and regulations. The same laws apply both to you and to the foreigners living among you.'"
1. How accommodating are you? God is accommodating. He wants to help us. But even God has His limits.
2. A night to remember. This is the last Passover celebrated in the wilderness. It is the last one some of them had for they died in the wilderness.
Marking the passage of the year, they are told to have a Passover.
The Passover celebrated an historical act of deliverance. Divine substitution.
The New Testament parallels it closely. We do communion, not Passover. Christ is our Passover Lamb.
Strict guidelines had to be followed. (Exodus 12) Things are done in a certain way. It is an intricate service. Dishes are prepared in a certain way. It is educational. Children ask questions.
For once, they followed God's instructions exactly. (Numbers 9:5) The Israelites were not very good at obedience.
3. Unanticipated Problems.
Law codes cannot cover every contingency.
God grants some accommodation. You can't always avoid uncleanness. God is gracious. If you miss Passover for a valid reason, you can do it a month later. God is inclusive. He wants to draw people in. People don't have to become like us, but become like God.
4. Accommodation is not limitless.
Humans like the idea of being accommodated. We want the second chance, special treatment, benefit of the doubt. But Christianity isn't all about accommodation. A friendly church is great, but it must have the Gospel of Christ. We need to stand for something.
In Numbers 9 those without a valid excuse will be condemned. God expects you do do what He says. He has no patience with those who disobey. God's grace can be stern. We should not presume on it. We are responsible for those things we have control over.
Communion has similarities to Passover. Not just that both have blood and deliverance. See I Corinthians 11:29 -- For if you eat the bread or drink the cup unworthily, not honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God's judgment upon yourself. If you don't approach Communion in the right attitude, there are consequences. If you don't do it God's way, He will do what He wants with you.
5. God is not an enabler. God calls us to repent and be a consistent person. He wants us to have a changed heart.