WORD STUDY – NAHSHON – נהשׁנ
Num 7:12 And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah:
I am amazed at how Christians will talk of their love for the Word of God but (by my guess) only spend their time, at best, studying 30% of the Bible. Most of their study is in the New Testament particularly the Book of Revelation where they will parse every verb. As far as the Old Testament goes they will read the Bible stories and the Psalms but when they get to a book like Numbers. I mean really who cares that Nahshon was the son of Amminadab from the tribe of Judah and that he gave the first offering?
Well, I will tell you who cares, the Jews. This is from the Torah, the book given to them by God and thus they will devour every word seeking a message from God. If you study this passage in light of the following passages, if you examine the words that are used, meditate on it, the Holy Spirit will reveal a truth to you. I can look at many hours I waste every day, but the three to four plus hours I spend in the Word of God is time I know and am certain is not wasted.
First let’s look at the name used here, Nahshon. The first person to give an offering was a man named Nahson. You don’t usually hear this name very often. It is a Hebrew name from the root word nachash which means an enchanter. It also means one who observes signs both the giving and receiving of signs. Isn’t it interesting that the first one to give an offering is one who observes signs, both the giving and receiving of signs. He is the son of Amminadab which means my kinsmen are of high morals, principled and honorable.
So the first man to give an offering came from a respectable, morally principled and honorable family who carefully watched for signs from God and would give signs to God. You can play around with this yourself to find some message but to me it means that we should look for signs from God and send signs to God. Nahson saw that giving an offering was sign to God, a sign of one with an honorable heart. He did not give an offering to God to get something in return, he gave it to send God a message, a message of love or respect. Ok, that is just me, maybe you can pull something else from that, maybe the Spirit of God is showing you something different. But still this is the Word of God and there is a message for us, even in a verse that seems to have no significant message. But like Nahson, we should look for the signs of a message from God when we find a passage like this that seems to have no spiritual value.
I went to the Midrash Rabbah to see what the Jewish sages and rabbis picked up from this passage. Let me quote from the Midrash Rabbah, more specifically Numbers Rabbah 13&14: “The Torah seems to be squandering dozens of verses by itemizing the gifts brought by the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel on the occasion of the inauguration of the Sanctuary. Each tribe brought its offering on a different day, but the gifts they each brought were identical in every respect, down to the weight of the silver plates and the age of the five lambs. Nevertheless, the Torah recounts each tribe’s gift separately, repeating the 35 item list twelve times in succession.”
Here’s the kicker: “While the twelve tribes made identical offerings, each experienced the event in a different manner. Each of the 35 items in the offering symbolized something – a personality or event in Jewish history, or a concept of Jewish faith or practice- but to each tribe it symbolized different things.” The passage concludes by saying: “All conform to the same divinely ordained guidelines, all order their lives by the same Torah; all carry a common bond with God, yet each flavors the very same deeds with his individual nature and approach…we are faced with the powerful drive to create, to personalize, to grow and soar with our individualized talents and tools.”
This is what it Numbers 7, a chapter which seems to “squander” dozens of verses with repetition, is saying to me personally or what I believe the Holy Spirit is revealing to me for my personal benefit. What it being told here is that everyone is different. We all share a common bond with God, but when it comes to worship and our relationship with God this is personal, individual with each of us responding to God within the nature, creativity, and mentality that He created in us.
I will make a confession. I cannot worship God with the music that is played in our churches today. I know that there are people who can, but I can’t. Yet, I feel this pressure to join in the worship, I lift my hands and I act like I am being blessed by the music. In truth I am not. So what I do is stay seated. Not in defiance. For whatever reason worship leaders expect you to stand during the worship service for the full half hour to forty five minutes as they drone on and on with their horrible music. I am getting to be an old man, it is a really a challenge to stand all that time, particularly when you are bored out of your socks. So I disobey the worship leader, I stay seated. I have my own way of worshipping God and relating to God and it is not the way of the worship leader. I bow my head and I just sit back and enjoy the presence of God. If I feel compelled to lift my hands, I will but if I don’t I won’t.
You see, like you, like every Christian, we are individuals who have a personal relationship with God. Right now God created me old so I worship like an old person. I dig the old hymns and worship songs of the 70’s. That is how I worship. The music may sound silly and stupid to you but to me it brings me into God’s presence just like the modern music does for you.
You see, Numbers 7 convinces me that of the 6 Billion people in the world today, no two are absolutely identical. Each are different in some way. If God made each person different then it stands to reason they can relate to God and worship Him in a way different than the other six billion. So don’t try to tell me how I am to worship God, how I am study His word, or how I am to enjoy my relationship with Him. I have a personal relationship with God and I have spent my entire life discovering how I relate to Him personally without trying to imitate some young whipper snapper who can play a guitar.