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Numbers 9:111a, 1519comment (0)

December 8, 2011

By Dale Younce

Related Scripture: Numbers 9:111a, 1519

Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Stay on Track with God’s GPS
Numbers 9:1–11a, 15–19

Most adults welcome guidance in life from what they consider trustworthy sources. Indeed many pay a lot of money to get advice on everything from what to wear, whom to date or marry, what stocks to invest in and how to be successful in business. Too often, however, adults do not value or seek guidance from God, even though He is always trustworthy and has provided means by which they can receive His guidance. We are wise to seek and follow God’s guidance in all situations. This week’s lesson encourages us to use God’s GPS for our lives.

When Commands Are Clear: Obey (1–5)
The Lord gave these instructions to Moses during the time period between completion of the tabernacle (Ex. 40:17) and the taking of the census (Num. 1:2). These instructions have to do with the celebration of Passover, the festival commemorating the mighty deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian slavery. The Lord commanded the Hebrews to mark Passover annually with a feast. The first Passover was the event itself; the second, spoken of here, was the beginning of the annual observance (the fourteenth day of the first month of the second year out of Egypt). Observing Passover at a specific time was done in obedience to an express command God gave the Israelites. Obedience was expected. Christians today, by studying the Scriptures, can find guidance for their lives through God’s commands revealed in the Bible. When God’s directions are clear, we are expected to follow.

When Complications Arise: Pray (6–11a)
To break the command concerning Passover would be paramount to a denial of the Lord and contempt for His revealed will. However, a problem arose for those faithful Israelites who, for some reason, might not be able to celebrate the festival on the designated day. Some people found themselves in such a situation because they were ceremonially unclean (that is, not ritually fit for worship), having come in contact with a dead body. Others might be on a journey and not able to participate on the appointed day.

This new situation demanded new wisdom, so Moses turned to the Lord for help.   

The Lord was gracious in His reply. Anyone away from home or ritually defiled during Passover might observe a secondary Passover a month later, conforming to all the instructions of Exodus 12. This was the original celebration extended to a different time. When a situation arises for which God’s guidance is unclear, we can pray for wisdom and talk with mature believers who will also seek His guidance on our behalf.

When Guidance Is Delayed: Stay (15–19)
God’s GPS is best seen in the pillar of cloud and fire that hovered over the tabernacle. (Chronologically Numbers 9:15–19 is related to Numbers 7:1 and Exodus 40:2 and is a summary of how the Israelites followed the cloud as it hovered over the tabernacle.) When the tabernacle was erected, this cloud took its position above the tabernacle and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex. 40:33–34). This pillar of cloud and fire remained with Israel throughout its wilderness journey (Neh. 9:19). It was the manifestation of the very presence of God, reminding people day and night that He was dwelling with them.

To the Israelites, the movement of the cloud was the commandment of the Lord. When the cloud moved on, it was God’s time for the Israelites to move on. If the cloud did not move, then the people stayed in camp until it did. The presence of the Lord, seen in the cloud by day, became a fire seen at night. What this meant practically, in the daily life of the average Israelite, was waking up each morning and looking out from his or her tent to see where the cloud was. First thing, every morning, he or she had to “check in” with the Lord to learn His plans for the day. When we seek God’s guidance about a situation and clear guidance is delayed in coming, we are wise to wait on the Lord and stay faithful to Him in every respect in the meantime.

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