Friday, April 26, 2024

2024.04.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Numbers 9:1–14

Read Numbers 9:1–14

Questions from the Scripture text:  Who spoke to whom in Numbers 9:1? Where? When? After what? What did He command for whom (Numbers 9:2)? On what day (Numbers 9:3)? At what time? According to what? What did Moses do (Numbers 9:4)? What did the children of Israel do (Numbers 9:5)? On what day? At what time? Where? According to what? What had happened to whom (Numbers 9:6)? What couldn’t they do? What did they do on that day? What did they say about themselves (Numbers 9:7)? What did they ask? What does Moses tell them to do (Numbers 9:8)? To wait for what? Who spoke to whom in Numbers 9:9? To whom was he to speak (Numbers 9:10)? What conditions would not prevent keeping Passover? What is the “make-up day” for such cases (Numbers 9:11)? At what time must it be kept? In what manner (Numbers 9:11-12)? Who cannot participate in this make-up day (Numbers 9:13)? What must happen to him instead? Why, what hasn’t he done? What must he bear? Whose case does Numbers 9:14 address? What does this sojourning stranger wish to do? How must he then do it (cf. Exodus 12:43–49)? 

Why does God remind them about the Passover? Numbers 9:1–14 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the God of the first Passover is the God of the second, and He requires that it be kept, and that it be kept correctly, by all of His church and only His church.

The Lord (Jesus!) is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The date in Numbers 9:1 places this event at the time of the raising of the tabernacle (cf. Exodus 40:17), a month before the censuses that begin in Numbers 1:1. It is connected to the setting up of the tabernacle (cf. Numbers 7:1) and Israel’s preparedness to depart. In two weeks, it will be exactly a year since the tenth plague and the first Passover. The Lord had commanded that this be kept annually, as the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (cf. Exodus 12:14, Exodus 12:17–18), but now He comes in His kindness and gives a reminder in Numbers 9:1-4. He is the One Who has commanded the observance and the manner of keeping it.

As with all of the commanded worship of God, He reminds us in the midst of the worship that He is the same as He was when He commanded it, and that He is the same as He will be when that to which the worship looks forward is finally fulfilled. Passover is reminding them that the God of the plagues and the God of promised land is the One Who has set up His tent in their midst in the wilderness. 

Passover also reminds them that they owe their existence to the lamb that was slain to redeem them from death. This is why Hebrews 13:8 takes this truth about YHWH, held forth in the Passover, and declares it about Jesus Christ, in the context of His own sacrifice, His own altar, and His own Supper (cf. Hebrews 13:8–10). All the bringings-near that we have seen from Leviticus to this point find their fulfillment in Christ, but this is perhaps the most poignant one of all, as the last of the prophets declares Him to be “the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (cf. John 1:29), and the book of life is called “the Book of Life of the Lamb Slain” from the foundation of the world (cf. Revelation 13:8). 

Dear reader, the same Lord and the same Jesus as at the creation, at the Exodus, in the wilderness, at the crucifixion, at the time of Hebrews, and the time of Revelation… this same Lord and Christ is the One to Whom (and in Whom!) you draw near day by day in your secret and household worship, and Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day in the public worship!

Defiling the Passover or skipping it are cause for excommunication on earth and from heaven. The exactness of the day becomes a difficulty for some who were defiled by a dead body (Numbers 9:6). Shall they be prevented from drawing near to God (Numbers 9:7, “presenting the offering” is literally “bringing near the brought-near thing”)? Touching the worship of God, and particularly the Passover, Moses wisely does not decide this himself but waits for special revelation (Numbers 9:8). The Lord’s answer is not just for this situation but for their generations (Numbers 9:10) and includes not just those who are put outside the camp by the providence of uncleanness, but after they have come into the land, those who happened to be traveling beyond its borders at the time of the Passover. 

God still permits (requires!) that these keep the Passover (Numbers 9:10-12), warning that the “make-up date” of the fourteenth day of the second month does NOT leave the day up to preference. Someone who is not prevented by providence from observing on the original date is to be excommunicated (Numbers 9:13). 

This has significant implications for the importance of assembling as a church now, under Christ’s high-priesthood. God forbids the forsaking of the assembling of ourselves together (cf. Hebrews 10:25), even as He refers to Christian worship and the assemblies of the church as the fulfillment of the observation of Passover. “Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed,” and now we must keep the feast by keeping ourselves clean of the leaven of sin, living unleavened lives of sincerity and truth (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6–8). There, too, in 1 Corinthians 5, those who defile the feast are to be excommunicated (cf. Exodus 12:15). 

Taking Exodus 12:15 with Numbers 9:13, we see that those who absent themselves from the commanded worship are to be subject to excommunication, just as much as those who are present but defiled. The passive “shall be cut off” reminds us that what the church does on earth reflects something that God Himself does from heaven. And, in fact, the Lord was doing this at the time, in Corinth, even though (because?) they had been failing to exercise church discipline in connection with the Supper (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:29–32). 

Church membership is required for taking the Passover. Finally, the Lord reminds them that “church-membership” is required for Passover participation. By concluding with Numbers 9:14, He reminds them of how He had concluded Exodus 12, enabling a stranger to participate if he fully converted, and his household came into Israel under one of the tribes (cf. Exodus 12:43–49). One was not admitted to the Passover simply by desiring to keep it to YHWH (cf. Exodus 12:48). He had to join the congregation and receive the covenant sign (cf. Exodus 12:44Exodus 12:47Exodus 12:48). 

How are you keeping yourself clean from the leaven of sin? When are you tempted to skip church, even when you’re not really providentially prevented? Of what church are you a member?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for granting unto us to come near to You in Christ. Please grant that by Your Spirit’s work, we would keep a clean conscience before You, and that we would not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Please grant to Your church to take the purity of Your congregations seriously, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Reside” or TPH196 “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing”

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