Sunday, April 20, 2008

Numbers 10:11-28 - Forward March!

Pray and Read: Numbers 10:11-28

Contextual Notes:

Finally the great day had arrived. It was time to move out toward the Promised Land. On the 20th day of the 2nd month, the signal to depart Sinai was blown. The cloud moved from over the Tabernacle. The priests blew the silver trumpets to call the camp of Israel to their march.

As the Ark of the Covenant sets forward, Moses, full of joy and confidence of faith, shouts aloud words of prayer and praise, words that have marked every move forward in the Church as well: “Arise, O LORD!, Let your enemies be scattered! Let them that hate you flee before you.”

Moses recounted this day in Deuteronomy 1:19 in one of his final speeches to Israel: “when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which you saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites[1], as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea.” From Kadesh the spies would go out to view the Land of Promise. There the curse of 40 years in the wilderness would result from their rebellion.

Key Truth: Moses wrote Numbers 10:11-36 to teach Israel to follow the Lord in full obedience and prophetic order.

Key Application: Today I want to show you what the Bible says about how we should follow the Lord.

Sermon Points: We are called to follow Him . . .

1. In Full Obedience (Numbers 10:11-13)

2. In Prophetic Order (Numbers 10:14-28)

Exposition: Note well,

We are called to follow Him

1. IN FULL OBEDIENCE (Numbers 10:11-13).

a. Notice verse 13. That tag line, “at the LORD’s command” has been common in the first ten chapters of Numbers. Here it appears again. The children of Israel are operating in full obedience to the Lord and want to please Him in every way.

b. ILLUSTRATION: Think of the work and effort involved in over 2 million people taking down their tents after nearly a year in one place, packing their things, rounding up their children, making sure their livestock were taken care of, and heading out.

c. APPLICATION: Have you noticed how those who have given themselves to the direction of the Word of God and His Holy Spirit steer a straight path, even when they are bewildered? Have you noticed that when the unexpected bill come or terrible loss rocks their world or sudden health emergency happens, that they are steady in the wind? Do you know why? Because they have chosen to be fully obedient to the Lord. Whatever that means, wherever that takes them, they have a confidence, not in themselves but in Christ Jesus.

d. Do you want to be a person who has a quiet confidence in good days and hard days? Do you wish you could be steadier for the sake of those around you? Ask the Lord to make you a fully obedient servant and make up your mind to be obedient to Christ Jesus. Then ground yourself into the Word of God and ask Him to teach you to pray. A year from now you will be able to tell a difference in your own life – and others will, too.

We are called to follow Him

2. IN PROPHETIC ORDER (Numbers 10:14-28).

a. What do I mean by a prophetic order? Well, these tribes set out by tribes in a certain way as commanded by the Lord, and I believe that the manner of their march and even the names mentioned prophesy the coming Messiah.

b. ILLUSTRATION: For example, the leading tribe on the march, right behind the Ark of the Covenant and the Cloud, was the tribe of Judah. Why did God want Judah to lead the way? Because four hundred years later King David would come from that tribe. More importantly, Judah is the tribe of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

c. Why do you think all these names are mentioned? Just something to embarrass you if you ever have to try to read them? Everything’s in the Bible for a reason. While I have not figured out what might be the message behind most of this list of names, let me show you what little I do see. Notice the names in verse 14. Judah means ““object of the Lord’s praise.” The captain for Judah is Nahshon, meaning “one that foretells,” and Amminidab means “prince.” While I’m not looking for any secret codes in the text, I am trying to see what those who read the original language may have seen – that the first tribe on the march is “one that foretells” a “prince” who will be the “object of the Lord’s praise.” In other words, it points to the Messiah, whom we know as Jesus Christ.

d. Let’s try another one: Issachar means “reward.” Nethanel means “God gives,” and Zuar means “small.” God gives a reward to the small. And Zebulun: “dwelling.” Eliab: “my God is Father.” Helon: “strong.” My Father God is a strong dwelling. Well, I don’t know. I don’t want to go crazy with it, but something at least seems to be there.

e. John Gill, that great Reformed theologian of the 1700s notices that the division headed by the tribe of Reuben comes after the Tabernacle and before the Holy Things, the Tabernacle furniture and utensils. Dr. Gill notes that Reuben means “behold a son!” and then writes, “he had the tabernacle borne before him and the holy things behind him, which way soever this camp looked, it had in view what was a type of Christ the Son of God, the object of faith, the ark.”[2] I might add that Elizur means “my God is a Rock,” and Shedeur means “all mighty.” Behold a Son! The Almighty, my God a Rock.

f. APPLICATION: We can be sure of this, though: The way Israel followed the Lord’s leadership was prophetic, that is, it preached. It honored and glorified Him. It proclaimed His Name to everyone who watched them. What about you? Are you living your life in such a way that it honors and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ? Is your life making known the person and power of Jesus Christ where you work? Do they recognize the Holy Spirit? Or a critical spirit?

g. I’m not talking about being all religious and talking that big church talk and then turning around and shredding somebody with your tongue. Don’t you realize that unbelievers see through that fake Christian living faster than anybody? And children faster than them.

h. I’m not talking about earning your way to heaven. There is no way you can do that. Living a moral life is an overflow of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

i. What I’m talking about is living a life of integrity, being honest enough to tell your customer that your product is really not as good as your competitors’. I’m talking about stopping to help somebody who’s off on the side of the road. I’m talking about watching out for someone else’s kids and being above reproach when it comes to the opposite sex and fulfilling your contract even when it loses you money and living a life that honors the Christ you serve.

Invitation:

Perhaps you need to make a commitment today to live a life of integrity and start being honest with yourself, your family, your business, or your Lord. I want to invite you to make that commitment today, submitting yourself to Jesus Christ who Himself is Truth.

Perhaps you don’t serve Christ at all. Maybe serving Him with your life is a new concept for you. I want to invite you today to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.


[1] Edersheim, Bible History: Old Testament, 239: The mountain of the Amorites is a 70mi long and 40-50mi wide plateau extending from the Sinai Peninsula to Beersheba.

[2] John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, “Numbers 10:18,” e-sword.net.