What is your "tassel with a blue cord"?

by Pastor Pete Panitzke on March 15, 2023

In the middle of our Old Testament lesson (Numbers 15-16) the LORD commanded the Israelites:
“You are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD.”
What is your “tassel with a blue cord”?
I need a “tassel with a blue cord” in my life because I see myself in the Israelites.
They had just suffered a horrible defeat. The Amalekites and the Canaanites had defeated them (Numbers 14:45), but worse…

They had defeated themselves.

  • They didn’t trust the LORD when he offered them the Promised Land. They trusted the frightening report of the 10 spies (Numbers 14:1-5)
  • Then they “repented” and disobeyed the LORD by trying to enter the land after the LORD announced his judgment that they wander in the wilderness for 40 years (Numbers 14:39-42).

They made the LORD their enemy.

Wasn’t yesterday a day you defeated yourself? Perhaps…

  • you lost your temper, or
  • you responded harshly to a simple question, or
  • you slandered someone’s good name with gossip, or
  • you looked at someone or something lustfully.

Our sinful nature defeats us daily.

Yet the LORD did not treat the Israelites as enemies. Notice his grace toward them. After the Israelites rebellion, the LORD’s response in Numbers 15-16 is: “After you enter the land…”

As you read “boring” commands about sacrifices, notice that these commands make an assumption. The rebellious Israelites will enter the promised land. The LORD still had plans for them. Their offerings will be “an aroma pleasing to the LORD.” A phrase repeated six times to reassure us.

The LORD still has plans for us. Our lives can once again be “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). Amazing grace!

No sacrifice for defiant sin

The second part of Numbers 15 provides a warning. The sacrifices for unintentional sin are listed. There is no sacrifice for defiant sin. An example immediately follows: Someone gathering wood on the Sabbath. He receives the sentence of death. Numbers 16 contains the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and the same sentence of death. Hebrews 10:26-31 applies this lesson to us in the New Testament.

Read this section and tremble.

  • Who are we to know something is wrong and then do it anyway?
  • Who of us hasn’t been guilty of defiant sin?
  • Who does not deserve God’s judgment?

It is a dangerous thing to know something is wrong and do it anyway. When you realize you have sinned, don’t harden your heart and harden your conscience to the call to repentance. Turn back to the Lord to find favor.

Rejoice again today! The LORD has not struck us down immediately in our defiance. He leads us to repentance. In sorrow, we reject the defiant sins of the past and look to him for mercy. He promises, “I am the LORD your God.”

What is your “tassel with a blue cord”?

In the Old Testament, they were commanded to wear tassels with a blue cord to remind them of the LORD’s commands and promises. The tassel-wearing was a ceremonial law of the Old Testament that no longer applies to us. We don’t wear tassels, but what do you do daily to remember the LORD’s commands and promises? What is your “tassel with a blue cord”?

  • Mine is to sit in my rocking recliner and read God’s word every morning.
  • Mine is to recite Psalm 130 to myself when I am stressed.

What do you do daily to remember God’s grace? What is your “tassel with a blue cord”?

The benefits of your “tassel with a blue cord”

In our New Testament reading (Mark 14:1-21) you can see the benefits of our daily interaction with the Savior’s Word.

The woman in the account had listened to Jesus closely enough that she understood what most did not – that he was about to die as her Savior.

Judas also enjoyed a close, daily close association with Jesus. Judas heard the call to repentance over and over. Sadly he hardened his heart to the Savior’s message. He became one of those who sinned defiantly and brought judgment on himself.

Lord, be gracious to us. Turn us from our sins daily. Bring us to your promised land of heaven. Let all that we do and say and think be a sacrifice and pleasing aroma to you, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. 


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