|Tabernacle at Mount Sinai|
Now it was time to move out toward the Promised Land. On the 20th day of the 2nd month, 1461 B.C., 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 out, 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, 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 obedience, in evangelism, in trust, and in worship.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what the Bible says about following the Lord.
Pray and Read: Numbers 10:11-36
Sermon Points: . . .
1. We are called to follow Him in obedience (Num. 10:11-28)
2. We are called to follow Him in evangelism (Num. 10:29-32)
3. We are called to follow Him in trust (Num. 10:33-34)
4. We are called to follow Him in worship (Num. 10:35-36)
Exposition: Note well,
1. WE ARE CALLED TO FOLLOW HIM IN OBEDIENCE (Num. 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.
e. 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.
f. 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.
g. 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.
h. 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.
i. 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.” 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.
j. 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? Are you living your life in such a way that your life proclaims His Name to everyone who watches you? Does your life preach? 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?
k. 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.
l. 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.
m. 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.
2. WE ARE CALLED TO FOLLOW HIM IN EVANGELISM (Num. 10:29-32)
a. As the nation leaves its long encampment, Moses invites Hobab, (Jethro), Moses’ father-in-law, to join them on the journey. This is the Jethro who helped Moses grow in leadership. Moses must have had great respect for Jethro, but Jethro was a pagan priest of Midian. He was not part of Israel. He was not part of the covenantal promise of Israel. Yet Moses invites him to join the people, join the covenant, join the journey with God.
b. APPLICATION: This is a picture of evangelism and missions. From the very beginning of God’s covenant with Israel, He was interested in the nations. Here Moses invites his father-in-law, a pagan priest, to believe on the Lord and be saved. Are you inviting people to be part of Christ’s kingdom? Are you inviting family to submit to the Lordship of Christ? Are you inviting co-workers and friends to join the journey with you to follow Christ together in the community of faith? Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:19) and to be “my witnesses” both locally and globally, in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
3. WE ARE CALLED TO FOLLOW HIM IN TRUST (Num. 10:33-34)
a. The people of Israel knew generally where God was taking them, but they did not know where they would find rest each day. The cloud and the Ark of the Covenant went before the people. The Ark was a symbol to Israel of God’s Covenant with them. It had the Ten Commandments inside it. It symbolized God’s Presence with them and His protection of them as they moved forward. As they started out, Israel had complete trust in the Lord, His protection, His provision, and His presence to lead and guide them.
b. ILLUSTRATION: Israel trusted the Lord fully to take care of their families, to provide food and water, to give relief from the heat, to find a safe place to camp and rest. 1 Peter 5:7-8
c. APPLICATION: How about you? Are you trusting the Lord completely in your business? With your children? Have you trusted Him to provide for that huge financial responsibility that looms on your horizon? Do you have complete trust in Him about your health? Have you chosen to trust Him completely in your major or the new school where you’re headed? Do you completely trust Him for your family despite the rumors you hear of layoffs at work? God calls us as a people, as a body of Christ, to trust Him completely. As a church, are we following Him in complete trust? Are we giving Him the reins? Do we have our own minds made up without regard to Him?
4. WE ARE CALLED TO FOLLOW HIM IN WORSHIP (Num. 10:35-36)
a. Moses prays a prophetic prayer that points directly to Jesus Christ. Here’s how: The word Arise is the same word for resurrection! Moses is prophesying the resurrection of Jesus Christ that His enemies may be scattered. And in Christ’s resurrection, his enemies, even the last enemy, death, was defeated.
b. John Gill: “at the death of Christ all the spiritual enemies of his people were defeated, scattered, confounded, and conquered; Satan and his principalities were spoiled, sin was made an end of, death was abolished, and the world overcome.”
c. Num. 11:36 - John Gill writes verse 36, “Perhaps Moses, under a spirit of prophecy, might have a further view, even to the conversion of the Jews in the latter day, when they shall return and seek the true Messiah, and be turned to him, and when all Israel shall be saved.”
d. We have learned that the best commentary on Scripture is Scripture itself. It explains itself. Two Psalms have the same line as verse 35. In Psalm 68:1, we see Moses’ words explained. And in this psalm is a clear prophecy of Jesus Christ’s ascension in Psalm 68:18: “When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious – that you O Lord God, might dwell there.” And verse 19 prophesies Jesus as Savior: “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.”
e. In Psalm 132:8 we find the same line of Moses. Here the arising is connected with the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7). See verse 11: “The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: ‘One of your own descendants I will place on your throne . . . for ever and ever.” And verse 17 connects David and the Messiah: “here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.”
Moses’ prayer and praise of the Lord was directed to Jesus Christ. Moses recognized the importance of the Messiah’s resurrection. Do you? Have you recognized in your own life the importance of receiving the powerful life of Jesus Christ and giving Him your own? Won’t you do that now?
11am, Sunday, April 28, 2013, Union Missionary Baptist Church, Rocky Mount, NC
Israel’s Order of March
ARK OF COVENANT