Numbers 9-10

Sunday Evening Bible Study

December 14, 1997

Introduction

The book of Numbers is the history of Israel during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. They have been delivered from the slavery of Egypt, and are making their way to the Promised Land. It is called "Numbers" because twice Israel is numbered, once at the beginning of the forty years, and once at the end.

Weíve seen how at the beginning, God is in the process of organizing this nation of delivered slaves into a lean, mean fighting machine.

Numbers 9

:1-8 Passover to be celebrated

:1 the first month of the second year

We have a time frame now. It's been one full year since they were delivered from Egypt.

During that time they spent some time traveling in the wilderness, but most of it has been spent camped out at the base of Mount Sinai, where Moses has been receiving God's Laws, the last half of Exodus, all of Leviticus, up to here in Numbers. Theyíve also spent time constructing the Tabernacle and organizing the tribes into marching armies.

:2 keep the Passover

Back in Exodus 12, when God was in the process of delivering the Israelites out of Egypt, God told them that the Passover wasn't just a one time event, it was to be celebrated every year from then on to remember God's great deliverance from Egypt.

They were to go through the whole ritual of killing a lamb, eating bitter herbs, eating unleavened bread, all reminding them of what theyíve been through. It was also designed to build in a reminder of the Lamb of God, who would cover our sins. A Lamb yet to come.

This is the first time they keep the feast as a memorial.

:6 defiled by the dead body of a man

Uncleanness could be caused from several kinds of things, but the net result was the same - separation from everyone else, and you couldn't worship until you were cleansed.

(Lev 7:21 KJV) Moreover the soul that shall touch any unclean thing, as the uncleanness of man, or any unclean beast, or any abominable unclean thing, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which pertain unto the LORD, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.

Very recently, the people had been commanded to remove all "unclean" people from the camp Ė

(Num 5:2-3 KJV) Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead: {3} Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.

Because of this, these men, who wanted to worship the Lord and observe the Passover, were going to be prevented from doing so.

What would Moses do?

:8 Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command

Lesson:

Wait for Godís answer.

Too often we feel like we have to give people quick answers to their questions.

But we need to learn to get our answers from the Lord first. Sometimes that takes time.

PRO 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.

We often use this verse to talk about how we need to take time to really listen to each other before we respond.

But it also applies very well to learning to hear from God before giving an answer.

:9-14 Alternate provisions for Passover

:11 the second month...

If someone was disqualified from participating in the Passover because of uncleanness, or because they were on a long journey, they could still have Passover, just on the next month.

Lesson:

Itís not the day thatís important, itís the worship.

God understands if you have a job that keeps you from going to church on Sunday morning or Sunday night.

But there are other times to go to church than Sundays. Some people prefer to worship every day!

(Rom 14:5 KJV) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

:13 forbeareth to keep the Passover Ö

If you were able to keep the Passover, yet did not take advantage of it, you were to be cut off from everyone else, kicked out of camp.

Lesson:

Donít neglect worship!

Itís not that youíre going to lose your salvation if you stop going to church.

But Iíve seen it over and over again, where something keeps a person from church, and it starts a downhill slide that isnít easy to stop.

(Heb 10:23-25 KJV) Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) {24} And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: {25} Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

:15-23 Guidance by cloud

:15 the cloud

The cloud was a symbol for the people of the very presence of God in their midst (Ex.40).

This cloud was shaped like a pillar, and actually first appeared right after the first Passover, when God delivered Israel from Egypt.

Exo 13:21-22 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: {22} He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

As soon as the tabernacle was set up, then the cloud became "connected" with the tabernacle.

Exo 40:34-35 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. {35} And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

:23 At the command of the LORD

The cloud became the chief means by which the Lord told the people when it was time to move on to the next camping spot, where to move, and how long to stay.

As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they people stayed camped out in that particular spot.

When the cloud moved, it was time to pack up and follow the cloud.

There was no set pattern as to where they would go, or how long they would stay.

It could be just over night that they stayed (vs.21).

They could stay for a month or a year (vs.22)

Lesson:

Stay open to God's leading.

Let your life be characterized in such a way that people can say of you, "At the command of the Lord he did this or that..."

JOH 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Kind of like a hot-air balloon. It goes wherever the wind currents go.

Lesson:

How does God lead us?

1. His Word.

(Psa 119:105 KJV) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

God isn't like a human person who says one thing one time, then changes their mind and says the opposite the next.

When God tells us something is His will in the Word, it is always His will.

There's an awful lot of guidance already in God's Word, things He's already told us that are His will for us.

For example, you're dating someone, the relationship is getting closer and closer, and they feel you ought to have intercourse together. Is this God's will?

1TH 4:3-5 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; {that is,} that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

On this kind of thing, where God has already spoken, you don't even really need to ask God, "Is it okay if I ...", God has already told us what His will is.

2. His voice.

Here in our passage, it literally reads (in the Hebrew, peh), "At the mouth of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out..."

You've heard people exclaim, "God told me to do this..."

Sometimes it's not legitimate, sometimes it is.

It may be an audible voice, it may be an inner prompting, a "gut" feeling.

JOH 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

Sometimes it can come while reading God's Word.

You can be reading a particular passage, when somehow you feel like God is speaking this passage to you. The passage isn't an all inclusive passage, telling everyone what God's will is, but is about something else, yet you feel God is saying it to you.

Example:

When the apostles were faced with Judas' suicide, they found a Scripture and felt it applied to their situation (Acts 1:20):

PSA 109:8 Let his days be few; Let another take his office.

Caution: This can be kind of dangerous, if you're just flipping through the Bible, waiting to land on a verse that you want to hear.

The extreme example is the man who was flipping through the Bible and his finger landed on "And Judas went out and hanged himself", then flipped again and found "go and do likewise..."

On the other hand don't discount it either, God can speak this way.

How do I get to recognize His voice better?

Learn what His voice sounds like - read the Word.

If you talk to a friend on the phone long enough, you get acquainted with the sound of their voice.

They can call you up, not even introduce themselves to you, and you know who it is.

The more time we spend in the Word, hearing what we know His voice to sound like, the more familiar we will be with His voice if He should wish to speak to us outside of His Word.

3. Circumstance.

REV 3:7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens

The "open doors" that the Lord puts before us are the opportunities or circumstances that are available to us.

Caution: Some have misused this to think that God's will is always the "easiest" way out of things. They assume that if something gets difficult, that the door must be closing.

An "open door" doesn't always mean the easiest solution.

1CO 16:8-9 But I shall remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; 9 for a wide door for effective {service} has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

Sometimes "open doors" include lots of hardship and obstacles, but the opportunity is still there.

4. Counsel from others

PRO 11:14 Where there is no guidance, the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

PRO 15:22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.

Caution: Make sure you are getting godly counsel from those you talk to.

Rehoboam talked to two sets of counselors, and went with one set, creating disaster.

Lesson:

Don't put God in a box.

He doesn't often do the same thing twice in exactly the same way.

It may be you only get to camp out a day, or maybe a whole year, but it's up to God to decide.

Just because God did it a certain way last time, don't expect that He'll do it the same way the next time.

We are people who like the comfort of knowing what to expect up ahead.

Yet God sometimes desires to do "new works" through us.

"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken."

ISA 43:18-19 "Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. 19 "Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

If God wanted to do something new in your life, if He wanted to do something in a different way in your life, would you be able to recognize it?

Numbers 10

:1-10 Silver Trumpets

What were the trumpets?

Two trumpets of silver (vs.2)

trumpets - chatsotsrah - (an ancient) trumpet. Translated "trumpet" or "trumpets" 27 times in O.T.

Pulpit Commentary: "From the testimony of Josephus, from the representation on the arch of Titus, and from a comparison of ancient Egyptian trumpets, it is clear that these trumpets were straight, long, and narrow, with an expanded mouth."

There is another word used for "trumpet", though not used here.

The sho-far. Translated "trumpet" or "trumpets" 65 times in O.T.

This was a trumpet that was curved, shaped like, or even made from a ram's horn.

This was thought to be the trumpet that was blown on the first of the seventh month, for the "Feast of Trumpets".

Who blew the trumpets?

This was one of the jobs of the priests (vs.8)

What was their purpose?

1. For Gathering

vs.2 - to "assemble" the congregation

vs.3 - "shall gather themselves"

I have always wondered if this isnít the idea behind the trumpet at the rapture, a "gathering" together of the saints Ė

(1 Th 4:16-17 KJV) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

2. For Warning

vs.2 - "for the journeying of the camps"

vs.5 - "blow an alarm"

vs.9 - "blow an alarm" Ė note that God says here the they might be "remembered" before Him when the trumpet blows, almost as if it gets Godís attention.

We see this in one of the battles between the southern and northern kingdoms Ė

(2 Chr 13:12-15 KJV) And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper. {13} But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them. {14} And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets. {15} Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.

3. For Celebration

vs.10 - "in the day of your gladness Ö"

We see this in happening under King David Ė

(1 Chr 16:5-6 KJV) Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab, and Benaiah, and Obededom: and Jeiel with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals; {6} Benaiah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.

Lesson:

Clear Communication/Organization

Itís neat that the people have this pillar of cloud to help them know when they are to move on, but itís not a good idea for 2,000,000 people to get up and start moving at once.

The trumpets provided a clear call of when each group was to get up and head out.

Even in battle, itís nice when an army works in unison, and not every man for himself. Trumpets give that kind of unifying communication.

I think that in the church, this is one area we can certainly be growing in.

Itís important that the church know where weíre going as a whole. Itís important to know when special events are, to plan ahead, to plan an attack.

:11-28 First Organized Departure

:11 in the second year ...

On the second month, the twentieth, they set out.

Note how this fits in with the "delayed" Passover that was to be celebrated by those who were unclean during Passover on the first month of the year. It gave them a chance to celebrate the Passover, then depart.

Also, they have been camped at Sinai for almost a year, now they head out into the wilderness. In a sense, they will be training for the conquest of the Promised Land.

This is a full systems test, like the launching of the first space shuttle.

All kinds of preparation went into getting the thing ready, then the final day comes, and ... lift off!

We've been studying plenty of chapters on how the Israelites were getting organized. Much of what we've studied in Numbers thus far has concerned this.

:14-28 The Order of March

First came Judah's group.

It included the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.

Then the tabernacle was taken down, and the sons of Gershon and Merari started out with their respective parts of the tabernacle.

Gershon took the cloth, Merari took the boards.

Then came Reuben's group.

It included Reuben, Simeon, and Gad.

Then the holy pieces of furniture from the tabernacle set out with the sons of Kohath.

The reason the tabernacle and its furniture traveled separately was so that by the time the furniture arrived, the tent would already be set up.Next was Ephraim's group.It included Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.

Lastly was Dan's group.

It included Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.

This entire order was all spelled out back in chapters 2-4 of Numbers.

Lesson:

Get organized!

I really appreciate it when someone is in charge of something that they take the time to organize it properly, so that things happen smoother. The gift of administration.

:29-32 Moses entreats Hobab

Who is Hobab?

Hobab is the son of Reuel. Reuel was Moses' father-in-law.

Moses wants him to come along

Moses thinks that Hobab will make a great guide in the wilderness, after all, it is his back yard.

Hobab would also be able to participate in the blessings that God was going to give to His people.

Hobab declines.

Moses entreats again. We aren't told what the answer is here.

But based on Judges 4:11, we can deduce that he must have come along, because his descendants were blended in with the Israelites.

Lesson:

Ask advice from those who know the territory.

Thereís no need to re-invent the wheel.

We could certainly use their help, but they can certainly use the blessings that God is going to put on us.

:33-34 The first journey

:33 three days' journey

I always find it interesting to see how many things take three days in the Scripture.

:33 the ark of the covenant of the Lord journeying in front of them.

It could be this is talking metaphorically, as a general leading his troups, though he isn't usually in front.

It seems that though the furniture of the tabernacle was in the middle of the army, the ark itself was out in front.

:35-36 Moses' moving song

A battle cry

It kind of seems like Moses is preparing the people for the battles up ahead, even though they won't be fighting for awhile.

The Jewish commentaries say that Moses used to speak this out every time the people set out to a new location.Itís kind of a teaching rhyme, preparing the people for war, teaching them to depend upon God.