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7. Passover and Jehovah with his People
1. The command to keep the Passover (Numbers 9:1-3 )
2. The Passover kept (Numbers 9:4-5 )
3. Provision in case of defilement (Numbers 9:6-14 )
4. Jehovah with His people (Numbers 9:15-23 )
Jehovah next commands His people to keep the feast of redemption, Passover. And they obeyed at once. The first Passover was held in Egypt, the second in the wilderness at Sinai, with their faces turned towards the land of promise, and it was next celebrated in the land of Canaan. This shows how essential the blood is for everything. The blood delivers out of Egypt, it keeps in the wilderness and brings into the land of promise. Here in the wilderness they looked back to redemption as it had been accomplished in Egypt, the sprinkled blood of the paschal lamb had delivered them, and they looked forward to the land towards which they journeyed. Jehovah, who had delivered them out of Egypt by blood, carried His people through the wilderness, supplying all their wants, and brought them in virtue of that redemption blood, the ever blessed type of the precious blood of the Lamb, into the land of Canaan. We have the Lord’s table where we enjoy the feast of redemption, feeding on Himself and His great love. There we look back to the Cross where He died, and praise Him for our deliverance. There we look forward to the blessed goal “till He comes.” And we know that while on the way all our need shall be supplied, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
A gracious provision was made for the men who were defiled by the dead or were on a journey afar. They could keep the Passover a month later, in the second month on the fourteenth day. The men who were defiled made a confession of it. And Moses not knowing what to do about their case turned to the Lord for instruction, which was immediately given. The grace of God met this need in a blessed way. There was time given for cleansing and for return from the journey and then a month later they could keep the Passover. None was to be shut out from the feast of redemption which God in His grace had provided for His people. Confession and self-judgment are needed in keeping the Lord’s Supper. If the wanderer but returns he finds a welcome at the table He has spread for His people. What grace the Lord manifests towards His people! But how little grace those who are the objects of His love and grace manifest towards each other! If one, however, did neglect the Passover wilfully, he was to be cut off from among his people. Such neglect showed that he had no heart for Jehovah and His redemption.
And the cloud was with His people. In that cloud Jehovah was present, He was with His people. They tarried and journeyed according to the command of the Lord. The cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. “So it was alway.” He did not leave His dwelling place in the midst of the people. All their movements were ordered by the cloud, that is, by the Lord Himself.
That mighty camp of over 600,000 men of twenty years and over, the 22,000 Levites and the hundreds of thousands of women and children, were dependent on the cloud. They could make no plans of their own. They did not know where they would go the next day. When they camped they did not know for how long it would be; when they marched they were ignorant how long it would last. Their eyes had to be fixed every morning, every night and throughout the day upon the cloud. They had to look up. Daily they were dependent upon Jehovah and upon the cloud for guidance.
And does He do anything less for His people living in the present age? Is the promise of guidance confined to Israel? Is it still His promise to His trusting child, “I will guide thee with mine eye”? Every Christian knows that he is under His care and under His guidance. If He guided Israel thus, how much more He will guide us who are, through grace, members of His body, one spirit with the Lord! How often we frustrate the manifestations of His power and His love by choosing our own path.
“Thus it was with Israel, and thus it should be with us. We are passing through a trackless desert--a moral wilderness. There is absolutely no way. We should not know how to walk, or where to go, were it not for that one most precious, most deep, most comprehensive sentence which fell from the lips of our blessed Lord, ‘I am the way.’ Here is divine, infallible guidance. We are to follow Him. ‘I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life’ (John 8:0 ). This is living guidance. It is not acting according to the letter of certain rules and regulations; it is following a living Christ--walking as He walked, doing as He did, imitating His example in all things. This is Christian movement--Christian action. It is keeping the eye fixed upon Jesus, and having the features, traits and lineaments of His character imprinted on our new nature, and reflected back or reproduced in our daily life and ways.
“Now this will assuredly involve the surrender of our own will, our own plans, our own management, altogether. We must follow the cloud: we must wait ever, wait only upon God. We cannot say, We shall go here or there, do this or that, tomorrow, or next week. All our movements must be placed under the regulating power of that one commanding sentence (often, alas! lightly penned and uttered by us), ‘If the Lord will.’“ (C.H. Mackintosh).
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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Numbers 9". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19