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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Numbers 9

 

 

Verses 1-23

Numbers 9:1-2. And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.

I should almost fear that they had omitted the keeping of the passover for a year. There was a first celebration of it when they came out of Egypt; but then it was not so much a type as a matter of fact; it was the thing itself, not the remembrance of the coming out of Egypt, but the actual coming out, the exodus. One would gather from this command of the Lord that, on the first anniversary of that memorable season, the children of Israel had omitted its observance, and hence Jehovah said to Moses, “Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.” If this conjecture is correct, it is very significant that a rite which belonged to the law, and was therefore to pass away, was so soon neglected,-and certainly it was afterwards neglected for many, many years; whereas, the great memorial ordinance of the Christian dispensation,-the Lord’s supper,-was not neglected even when Christians were under fierce persecution from the Jews or other nations. When the observance of that rite among the heathen was pretty sure to bring death, yet Christians met together on the first day of the week, and continually broke bread in remembrance of their Lord’s death, even as we do to this day. I suppose that the supper, which is the memorial of Christ our Passover, has never been altogether neglected throughout the world; but has been a matter of constant observation in the Church of Christ, and shall be “till he come.”

Numbers 9:3-7. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover. And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel. And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day: and those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the LORD in his appointed season among the children of Israel?

They were in a great difficulty. They were commanded to come to the passover, they sinned if they did not come; but they had defiled themselves, either through accident or of necessity and if they came thus to the passover they would be committing sin, so that either way they were in an ill case. There must be somebody to bury the dead. I suppose that these persons had fulfilled that necessary office, and there had not been time for them to purge themselves from the ceremonial defilement involved in the touching of the dead; so what were they to do?

Numbers 9:8. And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.

Oh, how wisely we should give advice if we would never decide till we had prayed about the matter! Possibly, we think ourselves so experienced, and so well acquainted with the mind of God, that we can answer offhand; or, peradventure, we think that we need not consult the Lord at all, but that our own opinion will be sufficient guide. Moses was greater and wiser than we are, yet he said to these men, “Stand still, and I will hear what Jehovah will command concerning you.”

Numbers 9:9-12. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.

So that, provision was made for the holding of a second passover, that persons who were defiled at the first observance might have the opportunity to keep the feast a month afterwards.

Numbers 9:13. But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.

What a solemn sentence that is! Let me read it apart from its connection: “Because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.” You see, the great offering of the Lord, the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the only way by which sin can be put away; and if any man will not bring that, in other words, if he will not believe in Jesus, then here is his certain doom, “that man shall bear his sin.” No more terrible judgment can be pronounced upon any one of us than this, “that man shall bear his sin.” “If ye believe not that I am he,” said Christ, “ye shall die in your sins.”

Numbers 9:14. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.

Now comes another subject: -

Numbers 9:15-16. And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony; and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.

This was the sign of the presence of God in the midst of that vast canvas city. I suppose that the great cloud rose up from the most holy place, and probably covered the whole camp of the tribes, so that it shielded them from the fierceness of the sun, while at night the entire region was lit up by this marvelous illumination. The chosen nation had the pillar of cloud by day for a shelter, and the pillar of fire by night for a light. God’s presence acts upon us in much the same way as the cloudy fiery pillar acted upon Israel.

“He hath been my joy in woe,

Cheer’d my heart when it was low,

And, with warnings softly sad,

Calm’d my heart when it was glad.”

We get shelter from the fierce heat of the world’s day and deliverance also from the darkness of the world’s night through our Lord’s gracious presence.

Numbers 9:17-20. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed.

Happy people to be thus divinely guided! They could never tell when they would have to be on the move; they had no abiding city. When their tents were pitched, and they were just getting comfortably settled, perhaps that very morning the pillar of cloud moved; and, at other times, when they desired to be marching, it stood still. They could never be certain of staying long in any one place. It is just so with you and with me; our Lord intends to keep us with a loose hold on all things here below. We cannot tell what changes may come to any one of us; therefore, reckon on nothing that God has not plainly promised. Be certain of nothing but uncertainty; and always expect the unexpected. You cannot tell between here and heaven where your Guide may take you; happy will you be if you can truly say that you desire ever to follow where the Lord leads.

Numbers 9:21-23. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.

So may each one of us ever be divinely guided! “Let the fiery cloudy pillar Lead me all my journey thru.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Numbers 9:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/numbers-9.html. 2011.

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