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This Chapter contains the private history of the daughters of Zelophehad suing for an inheritance among the other tribes of Israel. The LORD'S determination in their favour. Moses is admonished of his death: and Joshua nominated by the LORD, as his successor.
The case of this family was very singular. And no doubt was ordered to be so by the Divine appointment. But it gave occasion to manifest the faith and piety of those five sisters; for it is very evident they had faith in the promises of GOD, that Canaan should be divided to Israel: and they had grace to desire an inheritance among the people of GOD. While the Reader hath made these observations on the conduct of the daughters of Zelophehad, I would call upon him also, to attend to another instruction, arising out of their circumstances. Moses was commanded to number the people, and this he did in the foregoing Chapter; and GOD promised that those which were numbered should be the possessors of Canaan. Numbers 26:53 . But the daughters of Zelophehad were not numbered, and consequently had no claim in this promise. We shall see in the sequel, however, what the LORD'S will concerning them was; though, from not being enrolled, they had no pretensions on this ground. What is said of their father's dying in his own sin, and not in the company of Korah, to whose tribe he belonged, means that he died, not for that rebellion, but from the general cause of death, which is from sin: for when sin first entered into the world, death came by sin, and so death passed upon all men, because all have sinned. Romans 5:12 .
What a sweet lesson we ought to draw from hence! Yes, my soul! do thou bring every cause before thy GOD, and never lean upon thine own understanding. See a string of the richest promises to this purpose, by way of encouraging every poor exercised soul. James 1:5 ; 1 Peter 5:7 ; Psalms 35:12 ; Isaiah 42:16 .
What a gracious interposition of the LORD, in the case of Zelophehad's daughters; and what a merciful determination! But, Reader! connect with it what was remarked before, of these five sisters being not among the numbered; and then see whether there is not somewhat of a spiritual illustration in it respecting the Gospel church, and that everlasting inheritance purchased by the LORD JESUS, of which the earthly Canaan was a type. Doth it not say, that while all the numbered of Israel shall be inheritors of GOD'S holy mountain, multitudes of the Gentile church, whom, as John saw in his vision, no man could number, shall be brought in and included in that rich salvation? Pray! Reader, consult those scriptures, and compare them together: Isaiah 49:18-23 ; Revelation 7:4-10 .
Though it is appointed unto all men once to die, yet precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Observe, Moses is to have such a view of the promised land, as may strengthen his faith in the divine promises. But is there not in all this, strong assurances implied of an everlasting inheritance in the covenant-righteousness of Him, whom Moses beheld in the bush. Thus Abraham may die when he has seen CHRIST'S day afar off. Jacob may die, when he could with holy confidence say, concerning GOD'S CHRIST, I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD! And Moses may die, though not suffered to enter upon an earthly Canaan, when assured of an heavenly one. Genesis 49:18; Genesis 49:18 .
Moses, though faithful as a servant in GOD'S house, yet partook of the same infirmity as all the race of Adam, concerning whom it is said, "There is none righteous, no, not one." How sweet again, under this view, is the recollection of thy immaculate, spotless, holiness, dearest JESUS! who, though taking upon thee our sinless infirmities, didst not take any of our impurities, but wast holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. Hebrews 7:26 . Reader! do not overlook, in this place, the manifestation that is here made of the holiness of JEHOVAH: the LORD will not suffer the smallest taint of sin to go unnoticed in his servants. how often is this offence of Moses mentioned: and how is it handed down through all ages of his church! Think, therefore, what a holy jealous GOD we have to do with, who will be sanctified in all who approach him; and in the death of his only begotten SON hath given such an awful demonstration of his holiness.
Let us admire the character of Moses in this point of view, in his concern for the church of GOD: he seems to have more anxiety on this occasion than respecting his own death. But let us turn from Moses to look at Moses' GOD, who, it is said of him, was moved with compassion when he beheld the multitudes, in the days of his flesh, which were as sheep having no shepherd; and commanded his disciples to pray the LORD of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest. Matthew 9:36-38 .
Here we have the gracious answer of GOD to the supplication of Moses, in appointing a successor, and ordaining him to the arduous office. Joshua had, before this, been eminently distinguished in the battle with Amalek: see Exodus 17:9-14 . and in the instance of espying out the promised land: see Numbers 14:6-10 and now the LORD calls him forth to a more eminent degree of usefulness.
The conduct of Moses, in so cheerfully obeying the LORD, is ever to be admired and applauded; and we should desire grace to imitate it. Moses had his relations; and naturally, no doubt, had it pleased the LORD, he might have been glad to have seen one of them taken for his successor. But grace enabled him to triumph over nature; and to prefer GOD'S honour and glory to every worldly private interest. Reader! may the LORD give us grace to do so upon all the lesser occasions with which we may be exercised through life; and to say with those of old, that we prefer the interests of Jerusalem above our chief joy. Psalms 137:6 .
BLESSED LORD! make me as anxious for an inheritance among all them that are sanctified, as those daughters of Israel were for an inheritance among their brethren: and may it be my noblest ambition to be among the people of GOD, rather than among all the enjoyments, this side the land of promise hath to offer. And oh! thou blessed SPIRIT, from whose gracious influence all wisdom is imparted to the mind of thy people, give to me suitable grace, upon every occasion of difficulty, how to act in doubtful cases; lead my soul to imitate thy servant's example, and, like Moses, the man of GOD, bring the matter before the throne: and may thy promise of strength as the day is, be my portion.
But chiefly, dearest JESUS, now thou hast led me as thou didst thy servant Moses, to view by faith the promised land, oh! may I be as ready as he was to resign my soul into thy arms with full assurance of faith. Yes! my gracious GOD and Saviour, from the hill of Calvary and the Mount of Olives, thou hast opened indeed my eyes to behold fair views of that blessed country whither thou art gone before, to take possession of it for thy people. LORD! strengthen my faith every day in this well-grounded assurance, and until thou shalt be pleased to give the signal for my dismission, may I be hourly waiting and longing for thy coming; and when the moment shall arrive, oh! enable me to die, as I pray to live, believing the promises; and at the very last crying out with him of old, LORD, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 27". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29