A Current Bible Study:
Numbers, Chapter 9:
"Believe and Follow"
        When it came time to study the Book of Numbers this time around, I told the Lord, "Hey, as I recall, that's just a book of numbers! What could I find in there that would be relevant today?" Well, that was a very faithless thought on my part. This book is full of spiritual blessings and treasures, as I have been rediscovering recently. It's been amazing, a truly great book of the Bible. Beloved, we can't afford to give up on the whole Bible today. God still wants to speak to you through His Word, even the ancient Word.
        Let's look at Numbers, Chapter 9, together:

Verses 1-5: " 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. 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."
    You may recall that back in Egypt, God had delivered His people from the Pharaoh, ultimately, by striking down the first-born Egyptian children. At that time the Israelites placed sacrificial animal blood on the posts of their doors and as God was judging Egypt, He "passed over" the first-born children of His people. His angel did not slay them. Beloved, don't think this old tale to be overly dramatic, for we face a similar future. We are told that the Day will come when we all will be judged, too. Life or death. And only those who accept Christ and trust in His blood, shed on the cross at Calvary, will be "passed over" and delivered.
        So the principle described here, that God's people need to fully accept and celebrate His deliverance from judgment, applies to us also. Accept Christ, receive deliverance. It sounds easy and simple, but people don't always make it to Christ. Problems arise, questions come up. Have you accepted Jesus as your passover, beloved, or do you still have doubts and concerns? The children of Israel came up with a few "what ifs..." for Moses about their passover:

Verses 6-8: " 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. And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you."
    Doubter, troubled in spirit, sinner (and I'm still all of these, beloved), you can bring your questions about deliverance to the Lord today. He wants to answer you. He can work out an answer just for you, if you come to Him. But first you have to do what Moses told them to do: "Stand still." That's hard to do today, isn't it? But God hasn't changed, and you or I will not get one question really answered until we are ready to give Him our full attention. Here is God's answer to the question those men had for Moses:

Verses 9-12: " And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of 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 bones of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it."
    So we see that these men, who had some contact with a dead body, maybe through an accident or by way of a family funeral, had to, according to the Old Covenant, delay their celebration of the Passover. This also would apply to those who had to travel and be out of town at the time of the Passover celebration. That was God's answer. Wait a month, then celebrate it just like the others. Sooner or later, but do it, and do it fully and according to the Word of the Lord (which was coming through Moses, at that time). The next question is about a man who has no excuse, but just refuses to accept, respect, and believe in God's deliverance:

Verse 13: " But the man that is clean (according to the Old Covenant ceremonial laws), 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."
        How many are "cut off" today? Cut off from full communion with the Lord. Cut off from experiencing the true love of fellowship with other believers? Bearing their own sin and reeling toward the final judgment. This describes the man or woman who will not accept or celebrate the deliverance the Lord offers. Passover was not optional then, and you can't make Jesus optional today. That certainly is being tried today. He's being pushed aside, even in religion. I was asked once if I could do a concert of secular gospel music. What they wanted was to be entertained, but leave salvation out of it. But He is our peace (see Eph 2:14). There is still just one way to be eternally delivered and that's God's Way. Do you see how that's always been the case, even in Old Testament times? Now let's look at something positive and wonderful:

Verse 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."
        To whom is deliverance made available? We can see plainly, it's for all who seek it sincerely and in accord with the way the Lord has specifically prescribed. In other words, no matter who you are, beloved, Jesus died to deliver you (see Rev. 22:17).


        Now we come to a second section of Numbers 9. Remember, I was the guy who thought there was going to be meager fare in this book. But, as you can see, our cup is overflowing, and this is just one of the 36 chapters in the book! And, of course this is all just from my limited perspective. The Lord has much more he can show you in these verses and the rest, beloved. But I am grateful for this opportunity to share so let's continue and conclude the chapter:

Verses 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."
      Having received deliverance, the people now experience the tangible daily presence of God. You see where I'm going with this, don't you? If you accept the blood of Christ as your passover, you will find God's presence in your daily life. That is a glimpse of Heaven (and to reject God's provision of deliverance and remain isolated and spiritually dead is a glimpse of Hell, too!). Listen to something Jesus said about this:
John 14: 23: " Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

      Deliverance from judgment and the presence of the Lord in our lives seems to many, I'm sure, like it ought to be enough, but God is not through yet. Let's read on in Number, Chapter 9:
Verses 17-21: " 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."
        Accepting deliverance from God's righteous judgment and living in God's Presence also means that we must follow Him. This is how a person of God, a believer in Him, is to live, day by day, minute by minute. Refraining from action (for what we don't do is just as important as what we do), and acting at the Lord's instruction. In our day, I believe, God's Word and His Holy Spirit are our pillar and cloud, and Christ's Golden Rules (see Mark 12: 30-31) our daily commands. The people of Israel needed to follow, really pay attention and follow. You and me, too, beloved. We can't just claim our deliverance. We have to show our faith in God, we have to TRUST in Him every day. Note what Jesus is saying to us in the quote above: "if a man LOVE me." Anybody who is married can tell you, love is not a one time promise. It has to be on-going, lived out, and lived in. God wants to get into the daily details of our lives, not just the final judgment:

Verses 22-23: " 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."
      Have you been eternally delivered? If not, then please receive Jesus Christ into your heart as your Passover. If you have received Christ, I must ask a stinging question (it stings me because it causes me to reflect on my own shortcomings): Are you "keeping the charge of the Lord" today? It's not optional, beloved.
 

May Jesus Christ richly bless you - JKD 3/26/05