Showcase: Lent

  • A Lenten Prayer +

    Ash Wednesday - March 9, 2011 A Lenten Prayer The Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Read More
  • First Sunday of Lent Devotional +

    First Sunday of Lent - March 13, 2011 A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Don  Carson

http://www.esvbible.org/Numbers+9/

http://www.esvbible.org/Psalm+45/

http://www.esvbible.org/Song+of+Solomon+7/

http://www.esvbible.org/Hebrews+7/

TWO THEMES CONTROL NUMBERS 9. The second is the descent of the pillar of cloud and fire onto the tabernacle, the "Tent of the Testimony," the first day it was set up (9:15-23).

This pillar had guided and protected the people from the time of their first departure from Egypt. It was the visible sign of God's presence — and from now on it is associated with the tabernacle (and later with the temple). Thus the storyline of the manifestation of the presence of God continues.

But the first theme is the celebration of the Passover on the first anniversary of the original Passover (9:1-14). The original Passover, described in Exodus 12, was not only bound up with the Exodus, but was to be commemorated, according to the Mosaic covenant, in well-defined ways (see Ex. 12; Lev. 23:5-8; Deut. 16:1-8). God's instructions to Moses are that the people are to celebrate the Passover "in accordance with all its rules and regulations" (Num. 9:3). But this stipulation precipitates a crisis. Because some of the people had become ceremonially unclean by coming into contact with a dead body (for instance, if a member of their family had died), strictly speaking they could not participate in the Passover feast until they had become ceremonially clean — and that took enough time that they would be unable to celebrate on the prescribed day, the fourteenth of Abib (called Nisan after the exile), the first month in the Jewish calendar.

So Moses consults the Lord. The Lord's answer is that such ceremonially unclean people may postpone their celebration of Passover until the fourteenth of the second month. But this postponement, the Lord insists, is only for those unable, for ceremonial reasons, to celebrate at the prescribed time. Those who opt for postponement for reasons of personal expediency are to be cut off from the people.

There are many lessons to be learned from this episode, but one of them is sometimes overlooked. In any complex system of laws, sooner or later different laws will lay down competing or even conflicting claims. The result is that such laws must be laid out in some hierarchy of importance. Here the month is considered less critical than ceremonial cleanliness or the Passover celebration itself. Jesus himself recognizes the general point. The Law forbids regular work on the Sabbath, and it says a male child should be circumcised on the eighth day. Suppose the eighth day is a Sabbath (John 7:23)? Which takes precedence?

Minds that think only on the legal plane may not grasp the direction in which laws point. Organize them aright, Jesus says (and Paul elsewhere makes the same point in other ways), and you discover that they point to him (John 7:24).

Numbers 9; Psalm 45; Song of Songs 7; Hebrews 7

Reflections to Consider

  • 1

Publications

  • 1

Music

  • 1

Audio & Video

  • 1

Favorites

  • Prayer by Alex Kirk, Chatham Community Church +

    What role does prayer play in our lives? What is prayer, anyway? Alex Kirk, pastor of Chatham Community Church, gives Read More
  • How to be Mary in a Martha world by Jim Abrahamson, Chatham Community Church +

    Jim Abrahamson spoke at Chatham Community Church on an essential of the Christian walk Who/what is our savior? What is Read More
  • Christ the King Sunday by Art Going (Holy Trinity Chatham) +

    A thoughtful discussion of how we function as colonizers for Christ the King.  Read More
  • MY STUPID MOUTH by Steve Tamayo of Chatham Community Church +

    Tremendous sermon on the liabilities of our tongue, both in what we say and don't say. Read More
  • 1

Hidden Blessings

  • My Soul Cries Out in Worship +

    Over the past ten years, Vicki Yohe has written some of the most popular songs sung in churches. This song Read More
  • Worship Matters: A blog by Bob Kauflin +

    Worship Matters is a blog by Bob Kauflin. Good, inspired food for one's soul. http://www.worshipmatters.com/ Read More
  • Worship Wars in Bethany +

    Jim Abrahamson preached on the worship wars in Bethany in 2003.http://sermons.biblechurch.org/2003_08_03.final.mp3 Read More
  • The Greatest Treasure Remains: Come, Now is the Time for Worship +

    Come, now is the time to worship Read More
  • 1