|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #341, 342 and 343|
7 June, 1998
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our sequence of Bible Studies, beginning at Genesis 12 several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has led us down the generations of his progeny to the Sinai Wilderness camp of the Tribes of Israel, directed by God, and with Moses as the national leader.
Today we will be continuing with our studies at the same passage which we examined last week in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 10. We had read the verses from Numbers 10:1-10, and therein we found, on the last study, that God had explained to Moses that Israel was to have a means of conveying orders throughout the Camp in the wilderness of Sinai through the use of two silver trumpets which were to be created under Moses' directions out of whole pieces of silver. In later centuries, onward down the millennia, the trumpets were to continue to be a means of celebrating great national and religious events in Israel. If one trumpet alone sounded, that single call was to signal only the leaders of thousands, or in other words, the tribe princes, to meet at the door of the Tabernacle. However, if both of these silver trumpets sounded together, this would be a signal for a general assembly of the congregation for some great national purpose. Considering that perhaps two to three million people would be involved, there would almost certainly be a process whereby the main body would be recognised through the gathering of their representative family leaders.
Now this provision of a means of calling together the people under God's Covenant has not yet seen its termination. May I, for example, remind you of the many occasions wherein multitudes of people, not only those directly descended of these tribes of ancient Israel whom we today know as the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world, but those multiplied millions throughout the entire world, who thrill annually to hear, or perhaps to participate in, the grand presentations and renditions of Handel's "Messiah," and contemplate how this music has born testimony to millions from God's holy word, accompanied by the sound of the trumpet at these events.
There are other occasions of national significance wherein the trumpet is used, as God intended it should be, to call together God's people to remember such occasions. Remembrance Day Services call to mind the forfeiture of life and limb by servicemen in great wars and battles down through history. In such solemn occasions of modern times, we still find use of the trumpet in Remembrance Day observances an uniquely significant and somehow poignantly satisfying focal point to concentrate the minds of the populace. The trumpet sounding Reveille at the annual Remembrance Day Observances will come easily to mind, as we seek to draw before us examples of our national life wherein, in the reverend stillness of remembrance, the nation unifies around God-ward thoughts for the many who have lost their lives in seeking to preserve the best qualities of life in all its aspects for their home towns, their neighbours, and their own families and fellow nationals.
But this is not all there is. Though the numbers who can actively remember together diminish from the assemblies as the years roll on, the trumpet sounding onward from year to year, speaks of a yet future hope and a looking forward to something yet to be.
We, even those of us who do not accord religion a great part in our lives, may all call to mind the term "The Last Trump" which is taken from Matthew 24:31. To set the stage, so to speak, we must observe the context into which the verse is inserted. Jesus Christ has been discussing privately with His disciples the answers to the three questions which they had posed to Him upon hearing Him state a prophecy to the effect that the Temple about the beauty of which they had been exclaiming would be so totally demolished that not one stone would be left standing upon another.
Very naturally, they wanted to ask about the words which He had spoken. The three questions which they asked were "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? They wanted to know a date or time when the event would happen, and they wanted to know what sign would mark His immediate return, and they wanted to know what would mark the end of the world, or, to translate the meaning more clearly in other words, what would mark the end of the age, in transition to that which would follow it. Christ answered the question concerning the time of such destruction of the temple by remarking on the many times of troubled history which were yet to unfold down the corridor of time prior to His return. He then notes that His disciples would, as a mark of such troubles, suffer persecution. The ascendancy of iniquity wherein His followers would suffer is a mark of His approach, for He adds the pointed statement that "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." As to the question concerning the ending of the present age, He stated that this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end (of this age) come. Starting at verse 15, Christ then reviews what His followers must do, and how they must react to these ongoing conditions. False leaders who claimed to be "anointed ones" (which is what the name "Christ" means) would be especially abundant at the end time. Mention of the false teaching that He (as God) was to be found in the desert might indicate one major world religion seeking to replace His Gospel, and the secreting of portions which are said to be the body of Christ in little receptacles, (the "secret chambers" of verse 26), in churches may well indicate another variance from the truth. Christ then speaks of major signs in the heavens, which can be interpreted in both a governmental and ecclesiastical, and also a literal astronomical sense, to be seen immediately prior to His literal return. One mark is that the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
The Greek words are these: the "dunamis" of the "ouranoi" shall be "saleuo." From "dunamis" we derive the word "dynamite" (Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary), from the word "ouranoi" comes the name of the element "uranium" according to the same authority. The word "saleuo" means to shake, which indicates the tendency to vibrate, weaken, or come apart - much like what happens when artillery is fired in a salvo! That sounds a lot like saying the dynamite of uranium shall be shaken apart! The very next signal is the appearance of the sign of the son of man in heaven, followed by the consequent mourning of all the tribes of the earth as they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And here is the point to which I am leading through this preamble: "he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Reinforcing the point of that occurrence will have occurred the appearance of the fig tree, representing a nation as in the parable, which has put forth its leaves marking the onset of Summer. Here one trumpet sounds, so it is the elect that are gathered at this moment to meet the Lord, like the princes of ancient Israel gathered to the Tabernacle at the sound of that single silver trumpet!
I Corinthians. 15:52 says "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
I Thessalonians 4:16 says: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (Remembering that the Lord is on His way to take the throne of His father David, to reign over the house of Jacob forever. - Luke 1:32-33)
Now we may unintentionally have made some listeners uneasy, or given them a feeling of being offended in what has been said today, but we are reminded in I Corinthians 14:8: ".. For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" and I would not care to face The Lord at His return if I had not spoken the truth as revealed to myself in His Holy Word concerning these passages.
Today, I almost placed as the heading for this lesson the words "Silver Trumpets or Sounding Brass?", and indeed those words might be added as a sub-title, for it is important that the truth not be alloyed with words which reflect uncertainty. These Radio Programmes are like those Silver Trumpets in that they are designed to convey a message for Jesus Christ and the oncoming of the fullness of His Kingdom upon the earth as it is functioning in heaven. We seek to unite our peoples, drawing them, in the modern day equivalency, to the tabernacle, the temple, and the Word of Our LORD.
On the next study we intend to move along to the next portions of that Scriptural Word which casts a light upon our path ahead. May you have food for thought and meditation for the coming week in what has been said today.
14 June, 1998
By Douglas C. Nesbit B.A.
Our series of Bible Studies, which began several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us down the generations of his progeny to the scene at Mount Sinai, where the Tribes of these children of Israel are gathered before the holy mountain under the direction of Moses to receive God's directions regarding the organization of their nation. It is to be a literal national entity, but holding a spiritual unity in that this people are beginning an existence as a nation married to Yahweh (Jehovah) Who has brought them forth out of Egyptian bondage through the miracles of The Exodus experience.
Giving his entire trust to, and under the direction of, The Almighty God, their Patriarchal forebear, Abram, whose name had been changed by The LORD to Abraham, had, like these Israelites, taken a tremendously important, indeed historic, journey, in the ultimate sense of the word, to a place which these, his descendants, would afterwords receive for an inheritance. These Israelites, now about to take their own journey through the Wilderness of Sinai towards the same Promised Land were, of course, formed of only one portion of Abraham's descendants, for there were, after all, eight sons of which Scripture speaks, born to Abraham. So we are here noting that the promise would be an inheritance confined to those descended through only one of Abraham's eight sons, namely Isaac, and only those descended from only one of Isaac's two sons, namely Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.
We are frequently prone to dash ahead, and by doing so, we tend to miss some very significant aspects of the occasion. In this case, we must note that it is the same LORD Who gave promise to Abraham, Who is now guiding these descendants of Abraham to the same Promised Land to which He had directed the steps of that Patriarch so many years before. By thus doing, The Almighty was beginning the long process of fulfilling those very same promises to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob (Israel), concerning their progeny.
Presently, having agreed to their peculiar status as a nation married to The LORD, having prepared the national focus of worship, the Tabernacle, having agreed to the appointment of the Aaronic Priesthood and Levitical service, having received The Law in some depth, they are becoming acquainted with the new life to which The Almighty has drawn them. Today's Scripture is taken from Numbers 10, starting at verse 11, and in this passage we will be enabled, in our own imagination, to picture the event as, perhaps two to three million strong, these Israelites, with all their flocks and herds, and organised by the hand of Moses, using those silver trumpets of which we read on the last study, break camp and move off following the towering column of cloud and fire in which the LORD was guiding them. I might repeat those words in which Moses had been instructed concerning the creation and use of these silver trumpets for those who did not hear the former study. Numbers 10:1-6 states:
1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
3. And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
4. And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.
5. When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward.
6. When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.
Here, The Companion Bible notes, there are only two trumpets, but later, in 2 Chronicles 5:12, there are 120 mentioned at the dedication of Solomon's Temple. The "blowing" is explained as a prolonged blowing, no doubt that all might hear it. Let us, then imagine in our minds, both the sights and the sounds as the distant trumpets were heard, for the camp would be astir when the pillar of cloud and fire began to ascend, yet the signals for movement must be distinct, to permit all this activity to be regulated. As we read, we may note the very clear pattern of march, for a milling mob would scarcely have moved coherently at all in the circumstances, without everyone getting in one-another's path, mingling the animals together, and bringing the whole disjointed column to a halt in total confusion and argument! We must remember that the signal to break camp was the rising of the column of cloud and fire from off the Tabernacle. It would have been a signal which all sides of the vast camp could see, and a most dramatic one, at that, I feel certain. Let us draw near and view through these words of Scripture, what took place that day, the first movement of the whole of Israel from Sinai, beginning their subsequent journeyings.
11. And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.
12. And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.
13. And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
14. In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab.
15. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethaneel the son of Zuar.
16. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab the son of Helon.
I find it interesting that The LORD selected the Tribe of Judah as the advanced guard, or "shock troops" as one might say, to insure safe passage for the rest of the tribes in their journey, but this command is also consistent with the order given in Judges 2:1-2. At that later date, when the Israelites were actually consolidating their grip on the Promised Land after the death of Joshua, they inquired of the LORD "Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them" and at that time the reply given was once again "Judah shall go up, behold I have delivered the land into his hand." Judah must have had a particularly valiant and warlike spirit which was required for such a task. As the Tribes of Issachar and Zebulun were encamped with Judah at the Eastern side of the square encampments, and were listed immediately after Judah, as we have just seen, in the advance, we may assume that their qualities were also such as to be reliably supportive in this advancing front.
17. And the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the tabernacle.
18. And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elizur the son of Shedeur.
19. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
20. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Deuel.
21. And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary: and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came.
22. And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elishama the son of Ammihud.
23. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
As "The Stone Of Israel" had been assigned to the care of Joseph by Jacob in Genesis 49:24, using the words "(from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)" we may assume that this tribe was responsible for the transportation of the actual stone by its iron rings, slung on a pole and carried by strong carriers, for the modern tradition is that this stone is even now found under the name "Stone of Destiny" and "Coronation Stone" in Britain.
Next week we will continue with this study. May the thrilling panorama of the Tribes of Israel on the march provide food for thought in your meditations this week.
21 June, 1998
By Douglas C. Nesbit B.A.
Our series of Bible Studies, which began several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us down the generations of his progeny to the scene at Mount Sinai, where the Tribes of these children of Israel were gathered before leaving the holy mountain under the direction of Moses.
In the last study, we saw how the silver trumpets, prepared for the task, had sounded the advance of the great assembled camp of Israel as, tribe by tribe, in sequence, they broke up the extended square of the camp, and created an advancing column following the leading of the towering pillar of cloud by day and fire by night in which Yahweh, Jehovah clothed His presence with His people.
The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "From Sinai To The Plains Of Moab. x. 11-xxii. 1", the sub-heading "VII. The First stage Of The Journey. x. 11-36", and the itemised heading "a. The departure from Sinai (x. 11-28)" gives us some thoughts on the passage. It states: "We now begin a section of a book which runs to xxii. 1. It covers a period of nearly forty years, and includes the journey from Sinai to Kadesh, the crisis at Kadesh, and the journey to the Plains of Moab where the people made their last halt before the conquest of Canaan. Verses 14-27 state the exact order in which the tribes marched. When the Israelites left Egypt their order was doubtless more or less haphazard. Now a definite system is to be used, as was announced in chapters i-iv. Here its details are put together, to show the orderly march of the Israelites. Sometimes it is not nearly so important which order is used as that a definite order is followed, so that God's people may co-operate and accomplish the purpose that He desires. In verses 14-27 the leaders of the various tribes are named again (cf. Nu. ii). It is stated in x. 17 that two-thirds of the Levites set forward, bearing the tabernacle as soon as the first three tribes had gone. This seems at first sight to contradict ii. 17 which said, after the departure of six tribes: 'Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp.' The solution is found in x. 21, where we learn that after the departure of six tribes the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary: and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came. This would seem to have been a further refinement of detail over the general plan announced in chapter ii. It was decided to send the bulk of the heavy materials of the tabernacle on ahead after the first three tribes, so that when the Kohathites arrived with the sanctuary everything would be ready for its installation."
The advance was led by Judah, with Issachar and Zebulun, those tribes of fighting spirit which had formed the East side of the square encampment; the side which guarded the entrance to the Tabernacle. Following these came the Levitical Families to whom was entrusted the transport of the Tabernacle structure, that it might be readied at the next encampment to receive the Tabernacle furniture. After them had come the tribes of the South side of the camp, namely those of Reuben, Simeon and Gad and, following these, in the midst of the tribes came those Levites whose duties involved the transport of the sanctuary itself. Immediately behind them came the tribes of Joseph's two sons Ephraim and Manasseh holding the responsibility for guardianship of The Stone of Israel. Today, we pick up our Scripture reading at Numbers 10:24:
24. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni.
25. And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rereward of all the camps throughout their hosts: and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
26. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel the son of Ocran.
27. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira the son of Enan.
28. Thus were the journeyings of the children of Israel according to their armies, when they set forward.
We find in Keil and Delitzsch the additional information that "The straight and shortest way from Sinai to Kadesh, on the southern border of Canaan, was only a journey of eleven days (Deut. i.2). By this road God led His people, whom He had received into the covenant of His grace at Sinai, and placed under the discipline of the law, to the ultimate object of their journey through the desert; so that, a few months after leaving Horeb or Sinai, the Israelites had already arrived at Kadesh, in the desert of Zin, on the southern border of the promised land, and were able to send out men as spies, to survey the inheritance of which they were to take possession. The way from Sinai to the desert of Zin forms the first stage in the history of the guidance of Israel through the wilderness to Canaan." They continue, in the subsequent notes to explain that while Numbers 10:11-12 speaks of the cloud being "taken up from off the tabernacle ...", "and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran" this is a summary. "The 'desert of Paran' was not the first station, but the third; and the Israelites did not arrive at it till after they had left Hazeroth (chap. xii. 16). The desert of Sinai is mentioned as the starting-point of the journey through the desert, in contrast with the desert of Paran, in the neighbourhood of Kadesh, whence the spies were sent out to Canaan... ." For those interested to pursue the matter, Keil and Delitzsch continue with a two-page description of the geographical layout of the various sections of the land in this portion of Sinai. They add, concerning the final three tribes on the journey, that Dan was "the collector of all the camps according to their hosts," i.e. formed that division of the army which kept the hosts together."
As Moses' conversation with his father-in-law constitutes the next Scripture portion in the sequence of our studies, perhaps we might just have time to cover a brief advanced reading of the verses concerned, in order to retain continuity, although our full treatment of the passage ending Numbers 10 will have to be delayed until our next study. Numbers 10:29-32 reads thus:
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.
30. And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred.
31. And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes.
32. And 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.
The New Bible Commentary, under the sub-heading "b. Moses requests the help of Hobab (x. 29-32)" states: "Hobab was the brother-in-law of Moses. Probably the Hebrew word 'hothen', which is generally rendered 'father-in-law', can also be applied to a brother-in-law, although it is not certain whether this would always be true, or only after he succeeded to the leadership of his family, after the death of the actual father-in-law. Cf. Jdg. iv. 11." Concerning Raguel in verse 29, it comments "although Hobab's father is usually called Jethro (in Ex. iii. 1 and thereafter in Exodus), he is called Reuel in Ex. ii. 18, where he is first mentioned, and the same name is found here. In Greek transliteration the middle consonant of Reuel, Ayin, is frequently represented by a 'g' as in Gaza and in Gomorrah. In the case of Reuel, the English version has followed the Hebrew pronunciation in Ex. ii. 18, and the Greek pronunciation here. Evidently Hobab had stayed with Moses after Jethro's departure (Ex. xviii. 27)." The Commentary continues, of the phrase "Be to us instead of eyes", in verse 31: "Impressed with Hobab's knowledge of the desert, Moses asked him to perform a scouting service for the Israelites. It might be asked why the incident is recorded here, after the march is actually under way. The explanation would seem to be that Hobab had intended going a certain distance with the people, before turning aside to his usual haunts. Consequently the request was made now, rather than earlier. Although it is not explicitly stated, it would seem quite certain that he accepted Moses' invitation, since we find his descendants in Canaan at a later time (Jdg. i. 16, iv. 11)."
As we are at the end of today's study, let me leave with you the comment that we, today, may, like those distant Israelites of so long ago, pause when we see a signal from the LORD, to listen to the distant silver trumpet, and upon listening and hearing, we, like they, may answer the signal to break camp and begin our own journey towards the promises of God. Next week we may have a look at some of the notes to be found in the Commentaries upon this passage.
As we of the British-Israel-World Federation constantly aver, the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today are the direct descendants of these same Israelites of whom we have been reading, and their existence bears testimony to God's faithfulness in bringing forth the fullness of His promises to the Patriarchs. Thus, by the submission of this confirmation of The Almighty God's faithfulness, we are able to give glory to His mighty name. It may well be for us, in our own time in particular, to break camp for our future journey and service before The LORD our God. May this meditation prove to be an uplifting source of confirmation and delight to you today and in the coming weeks ahead.
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