TODAY’S READING: Numbers 15; Psalm 90
Lost in the slog of the laws of Numbers can be the beauty of sweet sacrifice. Six times in Numbers 15, sacrifices are described as a “sweet aroma.” When men and women walked in God’s way because they were passionate about His desire to be glorified by all peoples, it was a perfume pleasant to Jehovah. Lost in the slog of the litany of tasks in daily living can be the purpose for which we remain on earth, that Jehovah is known and worshiped by all peoples. When our daily acts of service and sacrifice are linked toward the great passion of God, then even menial things are a pleasing aroma to heaven. When we put our children to bed at night and pray with them over the nations, that is a sweet aroma to Jesus. When we have guests over for a meal, include communion around the table, and remember together those who have not heard, that is a sweet aroma on high. When we drive to work and turn off the radio to talk to the Father of nations about His lost sheep, the sweet aroma ascends. When we rise early and work hard and long so that we can fulfil our missionary support commitments, Jesus beams down from heaven on our labor, with tears in His eyes, for missions connected to sweat equity is indeed a fragrance the Father loves.
The Bible cannot cease from reminding us that God intends every people group to enjoy Him forever, and it cannot get away from including the nations in the humdrum of daily living. When God gave Moses instructions about sweet aromas, He included the strangers (the other nations that have joined Jehovah in fleeing bondage). The nations, too, offered sweet aroma, “just as you do” (Num. 15:14). One law and one custom were for all (vv. 15–16). One law for the native-born and the stranger (v. 29). The nations were to enjoy the same privileges and to endure the same punishments (vv. 30–31) as the Israelites, and their daily sacrifices yielded the same sweet aroma to God. It is hard to refrain from weeping when we read in the Bible the constant and insistent delight of our Lord in including all peoples in His family.
God’s people were commanded to use tassels as a memory aid for Scriptural truth. These twisted and knotted threads on their clothes reminded the people of God’s commands. So must we, the people of God, ever find ways in daily life to remind us not to get lost in routine, but to lift up our eyes to God’s great purposes for His glory among all peoples. Maybe it’s a screenshot of Matthew 28:18–20 on our cell phone, maybe it’s a ringtone of the song “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” maybe it’s a screensaver on our computer showing a picture of a mosque, temple, or shrine—something that reminds us every day that all our ways need to line up with God’s commands—for He is the Lord our God who brought us out of Egypt (Num. 15:41) that all the nations be glad.
Psalm 90 is a psalm of Moses. We can picture him in the wilderness, homeless, on mission for God, exhaling: “Lord, You have been our dwelling place for all generations” (v. 1). We hear him admitting that God’s wrath and holiness are terrifying (vv. 7, 11). We smile at the unintended connection between “Lord, teach us to number our days” (v. 12) and the title of the book of the Bible we are currently reading. We agree with the request to be satisfied early with mercy (v. 14), and we join our hearts to Moses’ prayer: “Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children” (v. 16). This psalm is likely written at the same time God reminded Moses: “All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Num. 14:21)! Thus, Moses closes his psalm with: “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17). The Lord’s work is clear—for His glory to cover the earth and include all peoples. Our work is clear—to be glory bearers to the uttermost. His promise is sure: “When we do His good will, He abides with us still.” His beauty is upon us, and our daily sacrifices are indeed sweet aroma.
 Don Moen. “Trust and Obey.” From the album Hymns of Hope. 2014.