Study Notes

Numbers 9:1-10:36

9:1-5 Observe The Passover

God directs Moses that they are to celebrate the Passover. They did everything that God had commanded regarding the Passover in Exodus 12.

This is encouraging to me, when I read,

Num. 9:5 ...according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did.

There were actually times that the Israelites were obedient to God! Obedience is possible! Maybe you're just coming out of a time that you were walking in rebellion to God - either outwardly by sins of transgression, or inwardly, with iniquity in your heart. Be encouraged tonight - obedience is possible! And it is certainly preferable!

9:6-8 Unclean At Passover

In chapter 5, we read that God commanded that every unclean person be put out of the camp. It didn't matter whether they were unclean because of leprosy, a discharge, or had contact with a dead person - they were all put out.

Now, after being put out, these guys are put out! "Hey, Moses! We're only unclean because we had to bury someone! Why can't we celebrate the Passover?"

Wait And I Will Listen

You really have to respect Moses. He's got 3 million people to watch out for and deal with. Lots of decisions to be made, and here's one more. In his place, I would probably have said, "You're right guys, that was really no big deal. Go ahead and offer your sacrifice." Or, maybe if I was feeling really Scriptural that day, I would have said, "Sorry guys! The Word is the Word! You're unclean, you can't celebrate the Passover!"

But instead, Moses tells them,

Num. 9:8 Moses therefore said to them, "Wait, and I will listen to what the LORD will command concerning you."

These guys want an answer now, but he says, "Wait, I'm going to go seek the Lord." Oh, how blessed we would be if we learned to disregard the pressure and seek God for decisions! The Scriptures say over and over again how important it is that we wait for the Lord.

Ps. 37:7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him...

Ps. 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.

Ps. 147:11 The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

Isa. 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up {with} wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Waiting for the Lord has almost been lost in today's rushing age. Let us wait for God - for His goodness, for His guiding, for His direction, for His deliverance.

9:9-12 Absentee Passover

God here clarifies His law. Although the unclean could not celebrate Passover, God understood that they had not become unclean through any kind of sin, but just through the death of a loved one. He tells Moses to tell the folks, "If you miss the Passover because you're out of town or unclean because of a dead person, just celebrate it on this day next month."

9:13-14 Cut Off For Neglect

Now, if someone wasn't unclean or out of town, and simply neglected the Passover, then God says that they are to be cut off. This is true in the church today as well. Remember, Christ is our Passover. And all who reject Him and neglect His salvation will be cut off eternally from God and His people.

9:15-23 Led By The Cloud

The cloud that shielded the people from God's glory covered the tabernacle. This was no ordinary cloud - during the day, it looked like a cloud, but during the night they could see that it was illuminated from inside, that it had a fiery appearance.

This cloud led the way during the wilderness wanderings. As long as the cloud stayed put, so did the camp of Israel. When the cloud moved, so did the camp of Israel.

10:1-10 The Silver Trumpets

In the Scriptures, there are two kinds of trumpets to be aware of. The first is the "sho-FAR," a trumpet made from a ram's horn. The shofar was blown at the year of Jubilee and at the battle of Jericho. The second, mentioned here, are the "khats-o-tser-AW," silver trumpets that were long thin tubes flared out at the end.

These khatsoseraw trumpets were used for a diversity of purposes: They called the assembly together at the door of the tabernacle, they sounded the alarm to war, they were blown on happy days and on solemn days, they were blown on the first of the month, and were over the burnt offerings and peace offerings.

In these trumpets, there is a picture that nobody I've read has quite gotten yet. There were two trumpets - two is the number of witness. They were made of silver - the metal of redemption. They were blown by the priests - the mediators between God and man. Depending on how they were blown, they signalled different things: assemble, go to war, look at the day, be happy, be sad, God remember us.

I believe that these trumpets are a picture of the Word of God. Just as Paul told the Thessalonians,

1Ths. 1:8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth

All through the Scriptures, we see God's voice described as a trumpet. Paul, in encouraging the Corinthians to prophesy in a language that the church could understand, said,

1Cor. 14:6-8 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? Yet {even} lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?

That trumpet had to be clear for people to understand. So too, the gift of prophecy, forth-telling the Word of God, must be clear and understandable.

So, in what ways do the trumpets give us a picture of the Word of God? Just as there were two silver trumpets, the Word witnesses to us of the redemption of mankind. It is sounded by God's priests, and truly has a diversity of applications. We assemble together to hear it, it prompts us to war - contending for the faith and smashing down the gates of hell. It reminds us to look at the calendar changing. It calls us to both gladness and mourning, and is a reminder to God. As the psalmist wrote,

Ps. 105:8 He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations

Finally, the blowing of the trumpets was to be a perpetual statute - God's Word is eternal.

10:11-13 Setting Out On Their Journeys

A few days after the absentees got to celebrate Passover, God led the Israelites out from their place at the base of Mt. Sinai, towards Paw-RAWN.

(10:14-28) The Order Of March

These verses describe the order in which the Israelites traveled through the wilderness.

10:29-32 Reuel, Jethro, Or Hobab?

There is actually some confusion regarding the name of Moses' father-in-law. In Exodus 2, he was called "Reh-oo-ALE." In Exodus 3, and the rest of the book, he was called "Yith-RO." Now here in Numbers 10, he is called, "Kho-BAWB" the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law."

So what's the deal? Is this the same man? I believe so. Why then does Moses use the three different names? The answer is found in Hebrew. In Hebrew, the name Reuel means, "Friend of God." The name Jethro means, "his abundance." And the name Hobab means, "Cherished."

Now, if you look at when Moses uses these different names, you see an interesting thing. In Exodus 2, Pharaoh tried to kill Moses. Moses ran away through the wilderness and sat down by a well. When he saw some shepherds trying to keep Reuel's daughters from watering their sheep, he drove them away and watered the women's flocks. Then their father welcomed Moses into their house, and allowed him to marry Tsip-po-RAW. This man was used by God to give Moses a place to grow for 40 years. Thus, Moses calls him Reuel, "friend of God."

The next three times he's mentioned in the text, we see him having lots of sheep that Moses cared for, see him graciously allowing Moses to go back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites, and coming with great wisdom to offer advice to Moses in how he can keep from wearing himself out by sitting as the only judge over 2 and a half million people. At these times, he is called Jethro - "his abundance." An abundance of sheep, of understanding, and wisdom.

Now, we see him being called Reuel - "cherished." Moses has grown to cherish his presence there, and pleads with him not to go.

Come Along, Hobab

Now, you and I and Moses all know that where the Israelites would camp was up to the Lord, not to Moses' father-in-law. But Moses tells him, "Hey, dad, you'd really be valuable to us. Your presence would be missed." Is this deception? No, I think that Moses' desire is to see his father-in-law come into the fold of God.

Many people have been drawn into the family of God simply by being loved and cherished. By someone telling them, "Hey, I care about you. I'd really like to see you come along with us."

10:33-36 Israel's Journeys

As Israel journeyed through the wilderness, Moses prayed at every turn. He prayed when they set out, and prayed when they stopped.

Although the Israelites have had a good stretch of obedience to God, next week, when we begin in chapter 11, we'll see the Israelites begin to murmur and complain about their circumstances, and how God feels about it and deals with it.

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