“Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he shall do as you do. For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you” (Numbers 15:13-16, ESV).
Will Rogers is a folk-hero of mine and of many of my fellow “Okies.” One of his most well-known sayings is this: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Will Rogers endeavored to affirm the humanity of people–even those he didn’t know–by treating them with respect and good will.
In these verses from Numbers God seems to have a similar perspective about human beings–God never met a person He didn’t love!
Numbers 15, which describes laws for offering and sacrifice, is inserted between the stories of two rebellions: Israel’s refusal to enter the promised land in Chapter 14 and the rebellion led by Korah against Moses’ leadership in Chapter 16. After the Israelites’ rebellion in Chapter 14 God had determined to destroy the Hebrew nation. Upon Moses’ intercession God sentenced the Exodus generation of Israelites to perish in the wilderness.
So, Chapter 15 marks the point where the plan for entering the promised land became the punishment of wandering in the wilderness for the next 40 years. It indicates the beginning of the end of the Exodus generation who rebelled against Moses’ leadership to enter the promised land. Perhaps the Chapter 15 worship statutes are an appeal by God for the next generation to be reconciled to Him despite the severe punishment He had imposed.