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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 9

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-23



Though Moses and Israel ought to have remembered that God had commanded that the Passover be kept every year, yet this was evidently forgotten until God spoke to Moses when the first month of the second year arrived, telling him that the Passover was again to be observed on the 14th day of the month. The lamb was to be selected on the tenth day and offered (Exodus 12:3). In obedience to God's word, Moses required the children of Israel to keep the Passover, which they did on the prescribed day (vs.4-5).

However, there were some of the people who were defiled by contact with a dead body, for which they were prohibited from keeping the Passover (v.6). This speaks seriously to us today. There are many dead bodies in Christendom, those who profess to be Christian, but have no life in them, therefore are tainted by the corruption of death. If one is identified in fellowship with such a denomination, he is defiled by it, though he himself is not dead, and he must be purified from this defilement before he can rightly be allowed to partake of the Lord's supper. Some christians think there is nothing wrong with such associations, so long as they themselves are not engaging in the evil things; but God strongly denounces the very association (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). 2 Timothy 2:16-21 firmly insists that if one is to be "a vessel unto honor, sanctified and useful for the Master," he must purify himself from those vessels that are dishonoring to God. Let every believer be seriously careful as regards what he links himself with.

These defiled men in Israel became concerned that they were not allowed to keep the Passover, for their contact with a dead body required seven days before purification was complete (Numbers 19:11-12). What could be done about this, since the Passover was kept only once a year? (v.7). Moses therefore appealed to the Lord as to this matter, and the Lord graciously answered in making an exceptional provision for these people.

If at the time of the Passover one was defiled by a dead body, or was a long distance away, then he would be allowed to keep the Passover one month later (vs.10-11), when the defilement would have full time to be cleansed, or the journey completed. The same regulations were applicable as was the case with every Passover. Thus today we may rightly conclude that when one is cleansed from the defilement of unholy associations, he is to be welcomed to the breaking of bread, or if distance interferes with the possibility of fellowship, this is not to hinder the fellowship when one returns from a journey.

However, it is insisted again that the keeping of the Passover was so serious a matter that if one was not defiled or traveling, it was imperative that he keep the Passover (v.13). If he refused to do this, he was to be cut off in death. For typically this speaks of one who has no regard for the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus by which alone anyone can have a true relationship with God.

As to one who was not an Israelite, yet living among them, if he desired to keep the Passover, he must conform to the same regulations as Israelites (v.14). Exodus 12:48 required that all the males of his household should be circumcised. This would take time, as also any applicant for fellowship with the assembly should willingly allow time for any question to be settled before expecting to break bread.



Before Israel's tabernacle was made, the Lord guided them by means of a cloud by day and fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). But now the cloud covered the tabernacle from evening to morning and the appearance of fire by night (vs.15-16). If the cloud was taken up, the children of Israel would be told to journey, following the direction that the cloud took (vs.17-18). Sometimes the cloud would remain over the tabernacle for a matter of days, other times only overnight, or in fact not even at night. So that they journeyed either day or night when the cloud or fire went before them. It was God who decided how long they should remain and when they should journey (vs.20-23). Nothing was left to their own wisdom or convenience. When traveling they would not see beyond the cloud, nor beyond the fire, just as believers today do not have to see what they may meet beforehand, but may rather trust the Lord to lead in the way He chooses.

When they reached a certain place, therefore, it would be a mistake to sink their roots too deep, just as we too should remember that we are only pilgrims passing through a hostile world and are not to settle down as though we are permanent residents in a world that has rejected our Savior. Of course it is necessary to make preparations for winter, and necessary to provide for our own households (1 Timothy 5:8), but such things can be done with an attitude of faith that is fully willing to leave our present circumstances at any moment the Lord should direct.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Numbers 9". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/numbers-9.html. 1897-1910.
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