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The Countdown

Sometimes personal Bible reading is hard. I’m currently reading through the Book of Numbers and up to that section that details the prescribed worship during the Feast of Tabernacles – a festival that commemorates the stages of the Israelite journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. The Feast was organised to last a week, with daily offerings involving animals, grains and wine. What intrigued me in this reading was the descending number of bulls that were to be offered each day – starting at 13 on day one, then 12 on day two, 11 on day three, and so on.

I understand that the Israelites were good at consciously prolonging their festivals, and admire their wisdom in lingering over important events, and their enviable skill at savouring special occasions – an art that we in the West need to learn with more discipline to counter our unnecessary hurry through the calendar.

But surely there is something more significant to be understood in the descending order of prescribed sacrifices. It is a countdown, but to what? To the one sacrifice to end all sacrifices. To the one offering that will finally clear the guilt and pay the debt. To the One who would give his life to bring grace to the world. And happy that person who now journeys with Him, and who tabernacles in Him, for that journey will one day finish in a land of milk and honey, and in a place whose days count only forward to eternity.

DM 12th April 2021

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