Sunday, January 06, 2008

Numbers 9:1-10:10 -- Looking Back, Moving Forward

Opening thought:

Do you know the symbol for January? It’s a face looking two ways, both backward at the previous year and forward to the new one. Today we will look at a passage just like that and see the value in looking back and moving forward.

Contextual Notes: At the foot of Mount Sinai, the Tabernacle has been completed, and the Cloud of the Presence of God moved from the mountain into the tent. It was a glorious moment for Israel. God had come to dwell with His people. It had been a year since Israel had left Egypt. Since it was the beginning of the new Jewish year, preparation for Passover was necessary.

Pray and Read: Numbers 9:1-10:10

Key Truth: Moses wrote Numbers 9 and 10:1-10 to encourage Israel to remember God’s faithfulness, to walk closely to the Lord, and to sound forth good news of God.

Key Application: Today I want to show what the Word says about how to live in power and grace in the new year.

Sermon Points:

1. Remember God’s Faithfulness (Numbers 9:1-14)

2. Walk closely with the Lord (Numbers 9:15-23)

3. Make known the Good News (Numbers 10:1-10)

Exposition: Note well,

1. REMEMBER THE LORD’S FAITHFULNESS (NUMBERS 9:1-14).

a. God calls us to remember His faithfulness (9:1-5). This is the first Passover in the wilderness. Israel remembered all they’d been through the past year, the ten plagues, leaving Egypt at night, crossing the Red Sea, the dead Egyptian army, trusting God for water, the daily miraculous manna, the Ten Commandments, the Golden Calf, the reestablishment of covenant, and the Tabernacle. What a year, the good and the bad.

b. The Lord receives everyone and gives second chances (9:6-12). The makeup Passover in the second month demonstrates God’s willingness to give second chances.

c. Sin removes our excuse (9:13). God does not force anyone to be obedient. But when we choose not to take advantage of His provision, we must assume responsibility for the consequences of our sin. We are without excuse, because He has made provision for Israel and for us in Jesus Christ.

d. All are equal before the Throne (and the Cross) (9:14). Aliens who want to participate cannot be excluded but welcomed as long as they participate according to the modicum of order. In the same way, the ground is level at the Cross, where your money nor your last name nor your ancestry nor your position gets you any extra access. Everyone has access to participate in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ if they will participate according to the modicum of order, viz., Christ alone by faith alone.

e. APPLICATION: This time of year is when many look back and make plans. Let me encourage you to remember God’s faithfulness to you and your family. We just came through a season of celebration.

2. 2. WALK CLOSELY WITH THE LORD (NUMBERS 9:15-23)

a. God’s presence was always with them in a Cloud by day and a fire by night, a light in their night.

b. No matter how long it stayed over the tent, the Israelites did not move (9:18-20), but when the cloud moved, they did in concert.

c. APPLICATION: Do you find yourself in a wilderness today, some circumstance at work or school or with your health in which you are watching the cloud? It has not moved for a long time. Don’t look around at everyone and everything else. Watch the cloud. Don’t move until that cloud does. Walk closely with the Lord. Others of you are standing still when the cloud is moving. You need to get with the program, get moving! Don’t waste this year wondering why things won’t work for you when you are not being obedient. Forward march!

3. MAKE KNOWN THE GOOD NEWS (NUMBERS 10:1-7)

a. KJV: “Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.”

b. Josephus[1] gives a description of them, and says, that they were little less than a cubit long, the pipe of them narrow, but broader about the mouth to receive the breath, and ended like a bell; they seem to be much of the shape of our trumpets.

c. Trumpets are used to bring unity to hear the word of God (10:3), to call the leadership to meeting (10:4), to instruct the camps to move at God ‘s command, to give commands of warfare, and to celebrate the Lord’s work among them.

a. ILLUSTRATION: The character of the Gospel is found in the trumpets.

i. These trumpets are an emblem of the Gospel, the great trumpet, and we are to lift up our voices like a trumpet, to show men and women their perishing condition through sin, and to encourage them to come to Christ for salvation.

ii. Isaiah compares the gospel to a trumpet: Isaiah_27:13: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” And Isaiah 58:1: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”

iii. The Gospel is comparable to silver, lasting and durable, valuable and precious,

iv. There are two trumpets, symbolic of the two Testaments, which both point to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

v. “of an whole piece shall thou make them”; of one solid mass of silver, beaten with an hammer: this may denote the pure and unmixed Gospel of Christ, having no dross, nor base metal of human corruptions in it; no discord, or contradiction in it, but all in perfect harmony and agreement,

vi. “that thou mayest use them for the calling the assembly”; the Gospel is for the gathering of souls to Christ, all that are given to Christ and redeemed by his blood; it is by means of the Gospel trumpet that they are awakened, and quickened, and directed to Christ:

vii. “and for the journeying of the camps”: similar to the Gospel; The saints are travelers passing through a wilderness, their way filled with many difficulties. The Promised Land is the destination, and the Gospel is for them on the way, to refresh them with its joyful sound, and to direct them in the path in which they should go.[2]

b. APPLICATION: How many people came to Christ because of you last year? How many did you share your faith with last year? Have you ever led anyone to Christ? Have you ever told anyone about your Lord? Don’t you want to do that this year? Let me encourage you to share your faith with your loved ones this year. Tell them why you serve Christ and invite them to do the same.

Invitation:

Sources:


[1] Josephus, Antiquities. l. 3. c. 12. sect. 6.

[2] John Gill, Exposition of the Whole Bible.