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This is an interesting chapter. It treats of the form and uses of the silver trumpets for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the people. Herein is also contained, the account of the removal of the people from Mount Sinai to Paran: an affecting relation of Moses' entreaty of Hobab, not to leave him: and Moses blessing and prayer, at every removal or resting of the Ark.
No doubt but beside the more immediate use and purpose for which the trumpets were sounded, that was a special one, which typified the sounding of the gospel. For what is the call of JESUS'S gospel, but a call to the assembling of sinners before the LORD, and his holy word directing their journey through life? The prophet Isaiah, with a view to this, speaks of the gospel day, when the great trumpet shall be blown, and the blessed effect of it, through grace, in causing those to approach, who were ready to perish: Isaiah 27:13 . Reader! do not overlook the type in that interesting part of it, that ministers are commanded to cry aloud and spare not, but lift up their voice like a trumpet. Isaiah 58:1 .
Observe GOD'S precept. Precepts and promises are sometimes joined together; not as if the LORD'S mercies were depending upon the desert of man, but to intimate that the LORD hath graciously appointed means to the end. The Psalmist hath drawn a nice, but proper distinction between the means, and the blessing on the means, when he pronounceth a blessing on those that know, not simply hear but know, the joyful sound. Psalms 89:15 . Reader! pray be careful to mark the striking difference.
Here again the Gospel is strikingly represented, in the diversity of sounds. There was in the camp of Israel, the war trumpet, which this chapter speaks of; Numbers 10:9 , the fast trumpet, Joel 2:15 , the jubilee trumpet, Leviticus 25:9 . And the trumpet for calling the assemblies, as here stated. But the particularity of the sound, denoted to what purpose it was blown. And is it not so with the glorious sound of the gospel, in all its multiform proclamations of mercy, grace, peace, promises, and threatnings? The apostle's observation meets every case, 1 Corinthians 14:6-8 .
Observe another striking similitude. The sons of Aaron were to be the trumpeters. The ministers of JESUS are his heralds, and no other. That is an awful Scripture of the LORD by the prophet. It were well, if it were duly considered by all preachers, Jeremiah 23:21 .
Remark how very gracious the LORD is in his promises. LORD! give me grace, to be always looking and crying unto thee, in all my warfare. 1 John 5:4 .
Did not this mean to say, that GOD in CHRIST is to be enjoyed in everything. And what, indeed, are all our feasts and sacrifices except JESUS be in them? Psalms 81:1-4 .
Is there not a great deal of gospel in this verse? What was the removal of the cloud from off the tabernacle, when near Mount Sinai, but the intimation that when JESUS in substance of our flesh should tabernacle among us, that then the cloud of partition between GOD and us, now reconciled in his SON, should be removed, and the knowledge of the glory of GOD, in the face of JESUS CHRIST, should be manifested, John 1:18; John 1:18 . Certainly we have authority to make this conclusion, from what Paul, commissioned by the HOLY GHOST, tells the Church! Galatians 4:24 , etc.
Moses gives a further account of this, Deuteronomy 1:6-7 . But Reader! do not forget to remark with me, that though Israel moved forward towards Canaan at the command of GOD, the removal was but from one wilderness to another. Reader, it is so and must be so, wholly through life. Wheresoever we are, howsoever situated, still while this side the land of promise, we are in a wilderness state. While we are at home in the body, we are absent from the LORD. But, how precious the thought, JESUS though unseen, and too often unacknowledged, is ever with us. Reader! turn to those delightful promises in the moment of thinking on the subject. Matthew 28:20 ; Isaiah 43:1-2 , etc.
I must not suffer the Reader to go through this account of the order, in which Israel took their journeys, without detaining him to observe, that Judah takes the lead. Doth the Reader ask wherefore? Let him recollect that our LORD sprang out of Judah. The sceptre was to be in Judah, and to him the gathering of the people. Hence our LORD is emphatically called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. LORD JESUS! do thou go before me, and may thy HOLY SPIRIT grant me power to follow thee. See those scriptures, Genesis 49:8-10 ; Hebrews 7:14 ; Revelation 5:1-10 .
No doubt the order, here pointed out by divine authority, was not without particular significance. But it should seem, from a passage in the Psalms, that each tribe had a special regard to the divine presence. Psalms 80:1-2 .
It is more than probable, that this Hobab was either the same as Jethro, or the son of Jethro. Certain it is, that the same word signifies both father in law, and brother in law. See Exodus 18:0 . But leaving this point, as not very important, I would rather the Reader should attend to the very interesting subject, contained in Moses' pressing invitation to Hobab, to accompany Israel to Canaan. Reader! is not the same language made use of by gracious souls now to call others to the like fellowship in JESUS? Are not we journeying to the place of rest, which remaineth for the people of GOD? My brother, sister, father, friend, relation, in all the ties of nature, I would say to everyone I know, come thou with us, there's enough in JESUS for all. Depend upon it GOD hath spoken good concerning Israel. That is a sweet scripture, Psalms 45:10-11 .
Behold! the universal voice of nature! See how earthly affections cleave to the earth. That is an awful scripture, Luke 13:26 .
Gracious souls cannot give over pleading. See the holy importunity of Angels on this point. Gen_19:17; Gen_19:22 .
It is not positively said, whether Hobab was prevailed upon or not. I think it most probable, that the grace of GOD inclined him to go, and that he went with Israel, as we find mention made of his family. Judges 1:16 and again, 1 Samuel 15:6 . But, let us rather attend to what is said in this memorable verse. Israel departed from mount Sinai; that wonderful spot, where GOD had manifested himself in so awful a manner. And is not this the case of souls when leaving Mount Sinai for Mount Zion: taking refuge from the law in the gospel? Observe, the ark, which was a type of CHRIST, was with them. Yes! we can never be said to have left the covenant of works, until we are brought into the covenant of grace; neither the law of works, until we are found in JESUS, resting wholly in him, and as Moses did the ark, so we take JESUS with us as our righteousness and security forever. Hebrews 12:18-24 .
Reader! remark with me, that it is truly grateful to the soul to have tokens of JESUS' presence with us, whether in a cloud or more open manifestations, whether we move or rest. See that sweet promise, Deuteronomy 28:2-6 .
This prayer of Moses is in the spirit of prophecy. As if he had said, When the LORD goeth before his people their enemies shall be scattered. And when they rest, the SPIRIT of the LORD is upon them, causing them to rest. Isaiah 63:14 . Reader! remember it is not the many thousands of Israel, or as the word might have been rendered, the ten thousand thousand, which constitute their security, but the LORD'S presence as a defense. Isaiah 4:5 . See that precious scripture, Deuteronomy 23:25 .
HERE, my soul, let me pause a little, and in the relation of the silver trumpet service, calling the LORD'S people to the assembly of his saints, ask my heart whether I have heard and known the joyful sound, which is proclaimed in the gospel, of JESUS' blood and righteousness! and am now walking in the light of the divine countenance? If I am thine, thou dearest JESUS, then do I know thy call, both for the assembling with thy people, and for my journeying with thee! LORD do thou go before me in my pilgrimage through life. Thy presence, whether in removing from Sinai to Paran, or from one border to another, (for every removal is but a wilderness state here below), will make everything to smile. Be thou but with me in every resting place, or setting forward, and all will be well, my delight will be found in JESUS, amidst his ordinances and people.
And no less do thou, ever blessed SPIRIT, excite in my soul an earnestness like thy servant Moses, to invite others to partake of the grace which is in CHRIST JESUS. Well satisfied as my soul is, of the inexhaustible fulness that there is in thee, for the many thousands of thy Israel, may it be the daily language of my heart to call upon the unawakened around me, to come, and taste and see how gracious the LORD is. And oh! grant, LORD, this unspeakable mercy both to him that writes and him that reads, that from a conviction of the infinite importance of salvation by JESUS, we may gladly leave a world from which we are daily journeying, with all its perishing connections, and go forth by faith, like faithful Abraham, at the call of GOD, not knowing whither he went, to the sure possession of that city of foundations, whose builder and maker is GOD.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 10". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19