Friday, April 12, 2024

2024.04.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Numbers 7:89–8:4

Read Numbers 7:89–8:4

Questions from the Scripture text:  Who went where in Numbers 7:89? To do what with Whom? What did he hear? From above where? On what was this mercy seat? Between what? How does the end of verse 89 emphasize the location/manner of speaking? Who speaks to whom in Numbers 8:1? To whom was Moses to speak (Numbers 8:2)? About what task? How many amps on the lampstand? Where are they to give their light? How does Aaron respond (Numbers 8:3)? What aspect of the placement does the middle of verse 3 emphasize? What does the conclusion to verse 3 emphasize? What does Numbers 8:4a now talk about? And what does verse 4b emphasize about where the form and the fashioning of the lampstand came from? 

How does arranging a lamp connect to 12 days of offering collection? Numbers 7:89–8:4 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that every one of the Lord’s people ultimately enjoy the shining of His favor and the sharing of His fellowship in Christ.

Inside-fellowship out. The bulk of chapter 7 covered the 12 days of the 12 leaders bringing the 12 identical sacrifices of the 12 tribes—all emphasizing how this newly consecrated tabernacle (with its transport furnished, and its service furnished, and its sacrifices furnished) is something that every Israelite has a participation in. Numbers 7:89 is a sister passage/event to Numbers 7:23. Both texts cover an entry into the tabernacle and an emphasis on the people’s participation in the glories of what occurs inside. 

The nature of the fellowship. Numbers 7:89 is quite remarkable, giving a “window” into the sort of fellowship that Moses enjoyed within the tabernacle. Exodus 33:9–11 teaches how unique and great this fellowship was. YHWH spoke to Moses face to face as with a friend, giving Moses a uniquely great place among men (cf. Numbers 12:8), looking forward to the only Man Whose relationship and status as God’s Prophet would exceed that of Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15–19, Deuteronomy 34:10).

The grammar of the verse clues us in to the greatness of the fellowship. Here is the living God the Lord of heaven—YHWH, Who makes the display of His glory to sit above real cherubim in a glorious reality of which the tabernacle is just a copy (cf. Numbers 8:4, Exodus 25:40, Acts 7:44, Hebrews 8:5). And into this tabernacle walks a creature, already infinitely dwarfed and separated by the Creator-creature distinction, formed from dust (cf. Genesis 2:7), and even destined to return to dust for his sin (cf. Genesis 2:17, Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:15, Romans 5:19). 

And what is this creature walking in to do? To converse with the living God! How can he do so? Because, as signified by the place from which He makes His voice heard shows, God has provided full atonement, propitiation—signified in the mercy seat. Indeed, the word translated “speaking” in our English version is a rare verb form in Hebrew that indicates reciprocal action: i.e., “speaking together with” or “conversing with.” Not only does YHWH speak to Moses, but He gives to Moses to speak to Him, to converse with Him! The reality is so remarkable that we might well add exclamatory punctuation to “thus He spoke to him!”

The fellowship pictured for the people. This remarkable fellowship that God had with Moses was pictured in Leviticus 24:1–9. There, we saw how the maintenance of the lampstand and the maintenance of the showbread communicated the greatness of the relationship into which the Lord had brought Israel: shining His favor upon them as indicated in the seven-fold light, and sharing His fellowship with them as indicated in the twelve-fold bread. When we considered that passage, we made reference to Numbers 8:1–4, noting how this passage especially points out the direction that the light of the lampstand would shine, as if the light is coming from above the ark itself (by which the Lord is represented), and shining down onto the table (by which the twelve tribes are represented). This direction of the light is emphasized both in Numbers 8:2 (“give light in front of the lampstand”) and in Numbers 8:3 (“he arranged the lamps to face toward the front of the lampstand”). 

The Lord is declaring the sweet grace of His fellowship to His people. First, as noted from Numbers 7:89, the fellowship that Moses has on the inside is the substance of the fellowship that every believer has with the Lord, and that will ultimately be perfected in Christ. Second, what is announced in the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:22–27 is the ongoing/continual case of the shining of the Lord’s favor upon His people. Just as the lamp always burns inside, and the pillar of fire always shines outside, one day Christ Himself will be the light of glory forever, and the people will dwell under that shining of His favor (cf. Revelation 21:23, Revelation 22:4–5). Finally, bringing the teaching of Leviticus 24:1–9 into this passage, we see a third declaration of His fellowship: the weekly refreshing of the bread on the Sabbath reminds us that the Sabbath itself holds promise of a consummation of a shared life with God (cf. Hebrews 4:1–10). 

The origin of the fellowship. Finally, taking Numbers 7:89 with Numbers 8:1–4, there is a quadruple reminder that the display of this fellowship (together with the fellowship itself) comes entirely at God’s own initiative. First, although the verb is reciprocal, it is God Who speaks with Moses (Numbers 7:89). Second, Numbers 8:1–4 are all given as a command from Numbers 8:1. Third, there is the concluding assessment in Numbers 8:3, “as YHWH commanded Moses.” But the fourth reminder is the strongest; for, although it describes artistic work (“the workmanship of the lampstand was hammered gold; from its shaft to its flowers it was hammered work”), its emphasis is not on creativity of the artist but the Lord’s own instruction as determining the design (“According to the pattern which YHWH had shown Moses”). 

Whom do the tabernacle, the ark, the lampstand, the table, and God’s speaking to Moses all proclaim to you? What do you have in Him? At what daily times, and what weekly day, does the Lord give you to enjoy the shining of His fellowship and the sharing of His favor? How are these times shaping your mindset the rest of the time?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for shining Your favor upon us in Christ, and sharing Your fellowship with us in Christ, even bringing us into reciprocal relationship with You! Grant that Your Spirit would make us to know this reality with You in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Reside” or TPH165 “To Your Temple, I Repair” 

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