Numbers Chapter 15 has caused many a Biblical scholar a lot of heartburn because for some this chapter seems out of place. Therefore, they conclude that someone inserted all, or parts, of this chapter at a later date perhaps as late as 200 B.C.
But Tom Bradford doesn’t agree with the premise; He can easily see the relationship with the previous two chapters and the need to follow them immediately with the contents of Chapter 15.
In the last two chapters, it concerned the most severe sort of rebellion against God, Moses, and others.
- The greatest concern was whether or not the Lord would honor His covenants with them, and
- Whether or not He would allow Israel to enter the Land on the same, or similar, basis as had been explained some time before the rebellion.
So, the contents of chapter 15 not only fits, it is necessary so that the people of Israel will understand that God WILL bring His people into Canaan.
Therefore, among the first few words of chapter 15, in verse 2, God says, “WHEN you enter the land I am giving you to settle in….” God says WHEN, not IF. So, we see that God’s Salach, His pardon of the rebellion is sufficient that He only wants to get on with His plan: settling the Land Canaan with the Israelites. And, from there the Lord gives further instructions modified from earlier ones to a degree concerning sacrificing.
What is key for us to notice is that the rules and laws He is about to command to Israel, are to take effect AFTER they enter the Land of Canaan, some 38 years into the future.
These laws do NOT take effect immediately. In fact, there is a precious little way they could practically be carried out because the resources of grain and wine, and a sufficient number of animals suitable for sacrifice under the more stringent and larger sacrificial requirements now being prescribed, can only happen in a settled society when agriculture and ranching are well organized.
So, this chapter clearly shows that God did not reject His people Israel because of their rebellion; and that their unfaithfulness had not nullified God’s faithfulness to them and His covenants.
It also demonstrates that repentance PLUS the offering up of proper sacrifices which in the larger sense indicated Israel’s return to respect, and obedience to God’s commands, could bring restoration and reconciliation to God.
In my next blog post, we will get into the meat of this chapter. There will be several blog posts on this section as there are many things to learn.