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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Numbers 10

 

 

Verse 29

DISCOURSE: 148

MOSES’ INVITATION TO HOBAB

Numbers 10:29. And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you. Come thou with us; and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel. [Note: If this were the subject of an Address previous to confirmation, it might be treated thus:

I. The invitation—

[Whither was Moses going? To the land of Canaan — — — There was not a child in all the camp of Israel, who did not know whence he had been brought, and whither he was bending his course— — —

This is really the state of God’s Israel now. They are all sensible that they have been brought out of bondage to sin and Satan: and there is not one amongst them who does not consider himself as a pilgrim here, and is not daily pressing forward to the heavenly Canaan as his rest, his portion, his inheritance.

And is not this the course which you are now about to enter upon? Look at the vows which were made for you in your baptism, and which you are now about to take upon yourselves. Are you not solemnly pledging yourselves to renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh, &c. &c. &c.? This then is the very thing which the journeying of the Israelites in the wilderness shadowed forth, and which all God’s Israel at this very time are doing.

We say then to you, yea, to every one of you in particular, “Come thou with us.” Though thou be young, like Hobab, come with us: yea, though thy father Jethro be gone back, “come thou with us”— — —]

II. The arguments, &c.—

These may be nearly as stated in the Sermon, except that, in the benefits accruing to them, the benefits of early piety may be stated: and, in the benefits which they may confer, it may be shewn what blessings they may be to their young companions, and possibly to their own parents also.

For an Address after confirmation, corresponding with this, see that on Numbers 14:3-4.] HOBAB, it should seem, was the son of Jethro, who is here called Raguel, and in another place Reuel [Note: Exodus 2:18.]. He was the brother of Zipporah, whom Moses had married in the land of Midian. Both Jethro, and his son Hobab, had accompanied Moses for a season: but Jethro had left him some time since [Note: Exodus 18:27.]: and Hobab also now proposed to leave him, and “to go back to his own country and kindred.” But Moses besought him not to go, but to proceed with Israel to the promised land; assuring him, that, though a Midianite, e should participate in all the blessings which God designed for Israel. On finding that this consideration was not sufficient to influence his mind, Moses urged the services which Hobab might render to Israel in their journey through the wilderness; for though God had undertaken to guide Israel through the wilderness, and to provide for and protect them in the way, yet there were many local circumstances which Hobab was acquainted with, by the communication of which, from time to time, he might render very essential services to Moses and to all Israel.

Whether Moses prevailed with Hobab to alter his determination, does not certainly appear. But it seems rather that he did succeed, because we find the descendants of Hobab actually settled in Canaan, and dwelling in the midst of the tribe of Judah, not indeed as blended with them, but as a distinct people [Note: Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11; Judges 4:17.]. This however is of no importance to us. It is the invitation only that we are concerned about: and we hope that, when the arguments with which it is enforced are duly considered, the success with us shall not be doubtful, whatever it might be with him. There is a land of promise towards which the true Israel are yet journeying, under the conduct of our great Lawgiver, the Lord Jesus Christ; and in their name is the invitation addressed to all of us ; “Come thou with us; and we will do thee good.”

But, that we may have clearer views of this matter, let us distinctly consider,

I. The invitation—

That the journey of Israel in the wilderness was altogether typical of our journey heaven-ward, is well known. When therefore, in the name of all Israel, we say to every individual amongst us, “Come thou with us,” we must be understood to say,

1. Set your faces in good earnest towards the promised land—

[There is “a land of which God has said, I will give it you.” And it is a good land; “a land flowing with milk and honey;” a land “where you shall eat bread without scarceness;” and enjoy “a rest” from all enemies, and from all labours, for evermore [Note: Hebrews 4:9; 1 Peter 1:4.]. Towards that land all the Israel of God are journeying: they consider this world as a wilderness, in which they are pilgrims and sojourners; and the object of every step which they take in it is, to advance nearer to their desired home. Let every one of us join himself to them. Let us estimate aright the inheritance prepared for us — — — Let us lose no further time in commencing our journey towards it — — — Let us engage in the pursuit of it with all the ardour that the object requires — — — And let us “fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into it, any of us should even seem to come short of it [Note: Hebrews 4:1.].”]

2. Let nothing be suffered to retard you in your progress thitherward—

[Hobab was solicited to postpone all regard for his family and country to the attainment of the promised land. And such is our duty also. Our blessed Lord has said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me:” “If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, yea, and his own life also (in comparison of me), he cannot be my disciple:” “He that will save his life, shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it [Note: Matthew 10:37-39; Luke 14:26.].” There will be difficulties and obstructions which we must meet with; but we must meet them manfully: and, whatever be the cross that lies in our way, we must take it up, yea, and glory in it, and rejoice that we are counted worthy to bear it for His sake. For, what is the favour of man in comparison of the favour of God, or the preservation of earthly interests in comparison of a heavenly inheritance? “What would it profit us if we gained the whole world, if at the same time we lost our own souls? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Nor let this sacrifice appear great: it is no other than was made by Abraham [Note: Genesis 12:1-4.], and Moses [Note: Hebrews 11:24-26.], and the Apostles of our Lord [Note: Mark 10:28.], and all the primitive Christians [Note: Acts 4:32.]: nay, it is made daily even for the sake of a connexion with an earthly object [Note: Ephesians 5:31.]: much more therefore may it be made for an union with Christ; who offers himself to us only on these express terms; “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear: forget also thine own people and thy father’s house: so shall the King have pleasure in thy beauty: for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him [Note: Psalms 45:10-11.].”]

3. Proceed steadily till you are in possession of it—

[Hobab had abode with Moses some considerable time: but at last he grew weary of the way, and determined to return. It must not be thus with us. We must not run well for a season only, but unto the end, if we would obtain the prize. We must “never be weary of well-doing,” or “look back after having put our hand to the plough;” but “by patient continuance in well-doing must seek for glory and honour and immortality.” “If any one of us turn back,” says God, “my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” “It were even better for us never to have known the way of righteousness, than, after having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to us.” It is “he only who endureth unto the end, that shall ever finally be saved.”]

4. Object not, that they who give this invitation are a mere party

[Whose fault is it, if they be a party? Is it theirs who are going heaven-ward; or those who will not advance a step towards it? Are those who “enter in at the strait gate, and walk in the narrow way that leadeth unto life,” to be blamed, because the great mass of mankind prefer “the broad road that leadeth to destruction?” But if they must be called a party, let me tell you what party it is: it consists of such as Moses summoned to his aid, “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me [Note: Exodus 32:26.].” Yes, they are those who areon the Lord’s side:” and if that be a fault, let them bear it. But who is at the head of that party? When we know that it is the Lord Jesus Christ himself [Note: John 8:23; John 17:16.], and that “the whole world besides lieth under the dominion of the wicked one [Note: John 17:14; John 15:18-20; 1 John 5:19.],” we need not be ashamed. If this objection have any force, it had the same force against the Israelites who had come out of Egypt; (for they were but a party, in comparison of those whom they had left behind:) yea, against the Apostles and the primitive Christians it lay with still greater force; for they were, especially at first, as nothing in comparison of their opponents. If those who invite us to join them be but “a little flock,” still they are the flock to whom exclusively “the kingdom of heaven shall be given [Note: Luke 12:32.]:” and therefore we would urge you all to join them without delay.]

To give yet further weight to the invitation, I will call your attention to,

II. The arguments with which it is enforced—

Two considerations Moses proposed to Hobab: first, the benefit that would accrue to himself; and next, the benefit which he would confer on Israel. Similar considerations also may fitly be proposed to us. Consider then, if ye accept the invitation,

1. What benefit will accrue to yourselves—

[Truly, “God has spoken good respecting Israel.” He calls them his children, his first-born, his peculiar treasure above all the people upon the face of the earth. And whatever can conduce to their present and eternal happiness, he promises them in the richest abundance. Both in their way, and in their end, they shall be truly blessed. What a catalogue of blessings is assigned to them in the space of a few verses [Note: Exodus 6:6-8.]! yet they relate to this world only, and are but faint shadows of the blessings which God will pour out upon their souls. As for the glory prepared for them in a better world, what tongue can utter it? what heart can conceive it? The very throne of God is not too exalted for them to sit on; nor the kingdom of God too rich for them to possess.

Now then to all who comply with the invitation given them, we do not hesitate to say, as Moses did, “It shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee [Note: ver. 32.].” You shall partake of every blessing which God’s most favoured people enjoy. Does he go before them in the pillar and the cloud? Does he feed them with manna, and cause the waters from the rock to follow them in all their way? Does he protect them from every enemy? Does he carry them as on eagles’ wings? Does he forgive their sins, and “heal their backslidings, and love them freely?” Is “he as the dew to them,” causing them to “grow as the lily, and to spread forth their roots as Lebanon?” Does “he love them to the end,” and “never leave them till he has fulfilled to them all that he has promised?” All this shall be yours, if you will come with us. “You shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” You may exhaust all the powers of language in asking, and it shall all be done: you may even stretch your imagination to the utmost bounds that human intellect can reach, and all that also shall be done, and more than all, yea, “exceeding abundantly above all that ye can either ask or think.” And shall not this induce you to accept the invitation? Go to all others that solicit your company, and see what they can do for you: can they ensure to you even the least of all the blessings of grace or glory? No: they are all broken cisterns, that can hold no water, and can present to you nothing but the dregs of sensual enjoyment; whereas with us is “the fountain of living water,” of which whosoever drinks shall live for ever.]

2. What benefit you will confer on others—

[Every one that gives himself up wholly to the Lord, strengthens the hands and encourages the hearts of God’s chosen people. Death is from time to time thinning the ranks of the Lord’s armies: and if they were not recruited by voluntary enlistment, they would speedily disappear. But all who accept the invitation become soldiers of Christ, and engage to fight manfully the Lord’s battles. All such persons also are “witnesses for God” amongst an atheistical and rebellious people, whom they practically “condemn,” as “Noah condemned the world” by constructing the ark in the midst of them [Note: Hebrews 11:7.]. As lights too in a dark world, they are of great service; for they “hold forth the word of life” to those who would not otherwise behold it; and are “epistles of Christ, known and read” of thousands, who, but for such instructors, would remain for ever ignorant of his will.

If any one be disposed to ask, What good can so weak an individual as I do? I answer, “If under any circumstances whatever any individual could be justified in offering such an objection, it would have been Hobab: first, because Israel were altogether under the divine guidance, protection, and support; and therefore could not be supposed to need any thing; and next, because he was a Midianite, and therefore incapable, as might be thought, of adding any thing to Moses and the Israelites. But to him Moses said, “Thou mayest be to us in the stead of eyes [Note: ver. 31.].” The truth is, that no one can foresee of what use he may be to the Church of God. Had Peter, when employed in fishing, been told what services he should render to the Jewish nation, or Paul what wonders he should effect in behalf of the Gentile world, how little would they have conceived, that such weak instruments should ever accomplish so great a work! The same may be said of others in later times: and so far is the weakness of the instrument from affording any just ground for discouragement, that God has expressly “committed the Gospel treasure to earthen vessels, on purpose that the excellence of the power may the more clearly appear to be of God:” and it still is, as it has ever been, his delight to “ordain strength in the mouth of babes and sucklings.”

Think then, ye who have tasted any thing of redeeming love, is it possible that ye may be useful in promoting the designs, and in advancing the glory of your Lord and Saviour, and will ye not do it? Shall any earthly interests or attachments prevail with you to put your light under a bushel, when, by suffering it to shine forth, you might aid others in their way to heaven? O! requite not thus your heavenly Benefactor, but join yourselves to his people without delay, and live henceforth altogether for Him who lived and died for you.]

Address—

1. Those who have never yet contemplated the invitation given them—

[Our blessed Lord, both in the Old and New Testament, says, “Look unto me,” “come unto me,” “follow me.” But yet, strange as it may appear, we for the most part consider these invitations no more than a mere empty sound; or, if we regard them at all, we satisfy ourselves with vain excuses for refusing them. But, if we wonder at Hobab for proposing to go back, after all that he had seen and heard, what shall be said of us, if we resist all the gracious invitations of the Gospel, after all that we have seen and heard in the New Testament? He was a Midianite by birth and by profession too, whereas we name the name of Christ, and profess ourselves his followers. Let us remember, that the invitation, rejected once, may be lost for ever; and that the Master of the feast, when he hears your vain excuses, may send his invitations to others, and decree that you “shall never taste of his supper.”]

2. Those who having once accepted it are disposed to turn back—

[Many such we read of in the Scriptures; and many such we behold amongst ourselves. But, if any who are here present be halting, we would ask them, “To whom will ye go?” Where, but in Christ Jesus, will ye find the words of eternal life [Note: John 6:67-68.]? You have not forgotten Lot’s wife, or the judgments that overtook her for only looking back to the city whence she had escaped: nor can you reasonably doubt but that they who turn back, “turn back unto perdition [Note: Hebrews 10:39.].” I charge you then, Be steadfast; and harbour not so much as a thought of “returning with the dog to his vomit, and with the sow that was washed to the wallowing in the mire.” “If, after you have once escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, you are again entangled therein and overcome, your last end will be worse with you than your beginning [Note: 2 Peter 2:20.].” Do not, like Orpah, kiss, and part; but, like Ruth, be steadfast in cleaving to the Lord [Note: Ruth 1:14; Ruth 1:17.]. Be faithful unto death, and God will give you a crown of life.”]

3. Those who, having given themselves up to Christ, are cleaving to him with full purpose of heart—

[You have doubtless met with some trials in your way, and been called to make some sacrifices: for where was there ever a true follower of Christ who had not his cross to bear? Then I will ask you, Have you ever had cause to regret any sacrifice you made for him? He has said, that “if any man leave father and mother, and house and lands, for His sake and the Gospel’s, he shall receive an hundred-fold more in this life; and in the world to come, eternal life [Note: Mark 10:29-30.].” Is not this true? Have you not found it to be so by actual experience? Go on, “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” Only, with Caleb, “follow the Lord fully,” and you shall with him assuredly obtain a blessed portion in the promised land. “Faithful is He that hath called you; who also will do it.”]


Verse 35-36

DISCOURSE: 149

MOSES’ PRAYER AT THE REMOVAL AND RESTING OF THE ARK

Numbers 10:35-36. And it came to past, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.

PATRIOTISM, according to the general acceptation of the term, consists in such a partial regard for our native land, as would advance the interests of one’s own country at the expense of all others, and trample upon the most sacred rights of justice for the attainment of its ends. In this view, it is no better than a specious cloak for cruelty and oppression: but, when freed from selfishness and injustice, it is a good principle, and nearly allied to religion itself. Such was the patriotism of Moses: he wished well to his own country, and sought to promote its best interests. That he sought to occupy the territory of others, is true: but his right to their land was founded on the grant of Jehovah himself, the great Proprietor of heaven and earth: and his desire to possess it originated, not in a thirst for dominion, but in a persuasion that the possession of it was combined with spiritual blessings, and would tend as much to the advancement of God’s honour as of Israel’s good. He wished ill to none, any further than as they were enemies of Almighty God: it was their opposition to HIM which he prayed to be rendered ineffectual. All his desire was, that Israel might be happy in their God, and in the ultimate possession of those privileges which God, in his sovereign mercy, had destined them to enjoy. This was the one object for which he prayed, whenever the ark removed, and whenever it became stationary. And from this prayer of his we may learn, what we also should do,

I. In times of trial—

It is not to be expected that we should pass through this wilderness without meeting with manifold trials in our way. The Church of old had much to contend with; and so must every individual that advances towards the heavenly Canaan — — — But our help is in God: and to Him we must look,

1. In earnest prayer—

[Prayer is the appointed means of obtaining succour from above: and it shall prevail when urged with fervent importunity — — — The uplifted hands of Moses prevailed against Amalek more than Joshua’s sword: nor can we doubt but that, in all their journeys, the Israelites owed much of their safety to his continual intercession. Without prayer the whole Christian armour would leave him open to the assaults of his enemies: but, with it, he is altogether invincible — — —]

2. In humble trust—

[However numerous or powerful our enemies may be, we must remember, that “He who dwelleth on high is mightier.” “If He be for us, none can with any effect be against us.” With His help “a worm shall thresh the mountains” — — — It is manifest that Moses never doubted for a moment the all-sufficiency of Jehovah: nor should we: but, like David in the most perilous circumstances, we should banish all unbelieving fears with this thought, “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven” — — —]

3. In confident expectation—

[Moses did not pray as to an unknown God, but as to a God whom by experience he knew to be “abundant in goodness and truth.” Thus we should have our expectations raised: we should ask in faith, persuaded and assured that “God will do more for us than we can either ask or think” — — — If we were “not straitened in ourselves,” we should not find ourselves straitened in our God.]

Similar to this should be our conduct,

II. In seasons of rest—

There were even in the apostolic age some seasons when “the Churches had rest:” and there are times of comparative rest which the saints experience in every age. But these are pregnant with danger to the soul no less than times of trial. At those seasons we are apt to relax our vigilance, and to be “settled on our lees.” It becomes us therefore, then more especially, to seek the presence of our God; to seek it,

1. As our only safeguard—

[Moses never deemed himself secure but under the divine protection. Hence he was as anxious to have God present with his people in their resting-places, as in their removals. We too, though apparently in peace, must remember, that “the roaring lion which seeketh to devour us”never rests; he is ever going about, and ready to “take advantage of us” to our ruin. In God, and in him alone, is our safety. If He guide us, we shall not err: if He uphold us, we shall not fall: if He be a wall of fire round about us, we may bid defiance to all the assaults of earth and hell — — —]

2. As our supreme happiness—

[At no time should we suffer ourselves to rest in created enjoyments: they are then only conducive to real happiness, when we can enjoy God in them. All, without him, is but “as the crackling of thorns under a pot” — — — To have his presence in the ordinances, and in the closet, and in our own hearts, this is life, this is peace, this is “joy that is unspeakable and glorified.” This therefore we should covet beyond all created good; and every moment that we are bereft of this, we should consider as lost to all the great ends and purposes of life — — —]

Address—

1. Those who are ignorant of God—

[Do not despise the idea of communion with God: there is a time coming, when you yourselves will wish for it. A dying man is a pitiable object indeed without the divine presence. But if we seek it not now, what reason have we to expect it in a dying hour? — — —]

2. Those who indulge unbelieving fears respecting him—

[How greatly do you dishonour the God of Israel! See how he attended his people of old, going before them in their journeys, and abiding with them in their resting-places: and is he not the same God still? O blush and be ashamed, that ever ye have limited his power and grace. Only live nigh to him in the exercise of faith and prayer, and you cannot but be happy in time and in eternity.]

3. Those who enjoy his presence—

[Be, like Moses, true patriots. Consider “the many thousands of Israel,” and let them ever have a remembrance in your prayers. Seek for them, as well as for yourselves, God’s blessing and protection. To be intercessors for the Church is an employment worthy the attention of the highest potentates: at the same time “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man,” however low he be in the scale of society, “availeth much.” And they who bring clown blessings on the Church by prayer, shall be sure to have no small portion of them resting on their own souls.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Numbers 10:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/numbers-10.html. 1832.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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