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Numbers 9


Book of Numbers Chapter Nine
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham



It's so interesting to watch God teach us the same lessons, over and over. We are very slow students who should understand, but don't. I recall taking two dogs to dog obedience training classes and they were puzzled by each session. Words like "sit" and "stay" were just noises to them and I eventually gave up trying. God does not give up with Israel or with anybody else and so we find the Lord mandating observance of the Passover, a symbolic rendering of Israel's recent, at that time, miraculous escape from slavery in Egypt, as seen in the Book of Exodus. He reminds us of the past so we might trust in the Lord and find safety right now.

Verses 1-4: "Thus the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2 'Now, let the sons of Israel observe the Passover at its appointed time. 3 On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall observe it at its appointed time; you shall observe it according to all its statutes and according to all its ordinances.' 4 So Moses told the sons of Israel to observe the Passover." God DELIVERED the family of Israel that had become a nation during 430 years of existance in Egypt, a place that became abject slavery for them. Innocent lambs were slain. Josephus the Jewish historian related that in his day (he wrote at and after the time of Christ on earth), 256,000 lambs were slain during Passover, usually shared by ten to twenty people per lamb. A year had passed since their deliverance and already some were beginning to forget, to rationalize what had happened. 2000 years have passed since the Lord died for our sins and obviously many don't believe in Him. And so we are given rites like Communion, a shortened form of the Passover, designed to bring to mind, to our hearts, the wonder of what was done for you and me.

Verse 5: "They observed the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did." Passover begins after dusk on the 14th day of Nisan and the people were told by the Lord through Moses, that the ordinance of Passover "was for you and your sons forever" (Exodus 12:24). How easy it is for us to forget the wonders that God our Creator who became our Savior, has done for you and me. And so we are given events that help us remember.

What do you do when you know what the Lord wants, but are unable to do it? That's what concerned Moses, Aaron and others in Verses 6-8: "But there were some men who were unclean because of the dead person, so that they could not observe Passover on that day; so they came before Moses and Aaron on that day. 7 Those men said to him, 'Though we are unclean because of the dead person, why are we restrained from presenting the offering of the Lord at its appointed time among the sons of Israel? 8 Moses therefore said to them, 'Wait, and I will listen to what the Lord will command concerning you.'" The Law given to Israel was designed to show humanity our need of the Lord and His provision for our lives. Ephesians 2:1 addresses "you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Without Christ, our condition is like the living dead of horror movies, who walk around, have purpose, limited understanding and can communicate to a degree, but they are dead. That is the case with those who don't know the Lord, but we are made ALIVE in Christ Jesus through faith, no longer part of the death of this world. And notice that Moses did what we should do when something happens that interferes with our response to God's will—he prayed to the Lord.

Verses 9-12: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 'Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person, or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to the Lord. 11 In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight, they shall observe it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute of the Passover they shall observe it.'" God has provision for you and me, when events occur that seem to block us from participation in what He has called us to do. Isaiah the prophet shouted, "Ho! EVERYONE who thirsts, come to the waters, and you who have no money, come buy and eat" (Isaiah 55:1). You may think you have nothing to offer God, and none of us do, except that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is utterly good, and He has done it for us. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). God has provided the way for the dead to become ALIVE!

Verses 13-14: "But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet neglects to observe the Passover, that person shall then be cut off from his people, for he did not present the offering of the Lord at its appointed time. That man will bear his sin. 14 If an alien sojourns among you and observes the Passover to the Lord, according to the statute of the Passover and according to its ordinance, so he shall do; you shall have one statute, both for the alien and for the native of the land." In Verse 13 we have the problem: what about the person who knows what God wants from him or her, but they don't do it? What about the one who recognizes that Jesus Christ is the Way to God but won't accept Him? That person "will bear his sin"—not be forgiven. And what about the person in Verse 14, the alien-seeming person who is an outsider, different from us? Welcome him! He or she is obviously interested in the things of God or they would not be here. And maybe today is when they will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 15-16: "Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. 16 So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night." When you pray, when you enter a place of worship, the Lord is there, just like "the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent..." His holy angels are present with you, and if you have faith in Him, God's Holy Spirit is in you. You may look around and not see that Reality, but it is only because of the blindness that has been allowed to enter humanity. God is present, but we are blind—for now. Angel's voices fill the air, but we are deaf and do not hear, though He lifts the veil at key times and the blind and deaf do see and hear, much like the fire and cloud were seen over the tabernacle.

Verses 17-23: "Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. 18 At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. 19 Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would keep the Lord’s charge and not set out. 20 If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, according to the command of the Lord they remained camped. Then according to the command of the Lord they set out. 21 If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out. 22 Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. 23 At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out; they kept the Lord’s charge, according to the command of the Lord through Moses." Something has happened that has changed everything for God's people. That which was external, like the cloud and fire which led them, has become internal—God is right inside of us. His grace is made effective through faith in the Lord and what He has done, and we are changed: "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). God has taken the "For Sale" sign down from your heart, He has written the word "Sold" on it in the blood of Christ, and through faith in the Lord, you are His. He is in You and He is leading you through promptings in the depths of your being, revealing when it is time to stay and when you are to move on. Best of all is His Passover: In Christ, He passes over your sins and makes you His.

Dear Lord Jesus, I am Yours. I confess my sin, my neglect, and I trust in You. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and lead me in the way everlasting. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
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