Numbers 9

* Of the Passover. (1-14) The removals of the Israelites.

(15-23)

1-14 God gave particular orders for the keeping of this

passover, and, for aught that appears, after this, they kept no

passover till they came to Canaan, #Jos 5:10|. It early showed

that the ceremonial institutions were not to continue always, as

so soon after they were appointed, some were suffered to sleep

for many years. But the ordinance of the Lord's Supper was not

thus set aside in the first days of the Christian church,

although those were days of greater difficulty and distress than

Israel knew in the wilderness; nay, in the times of persecution,

the Lord's Supper was celebrated more frequently than afterward.

Israelites in the wilderness could not forget the deliverance

out of Egypt. There was danger of this when they came to Canaan.

Instructions were given concerning those who were ceremonially

unclean, when they were to eat the passover. Those whose minds

and consciences are defiled by sin, are unfit for communion with

God, and cannot partake with comfort of the gospel passover,

till they are cleansed by true repentance and faith. Observe

with what trouble and concern these men complained that they

were kept back from offering to the Lord. It should be a trouble

to us, when by any occasion we are kept back from the

solemnities of a sabbath or a sacrament. Observe the

deliberation of Moses in resolving this case. Ministers must ask

counsel of God's mouth, not determine according to their own

fancy or affection, but according to the word of God to the best

of their knowledge. And if, in difficult cases, time is taken to

spread the matter before God by humble, believing prayer, the

Holy Spirit assuredly will direct in the good and right way. God

gave directions in this case, and in other similar cases,

explanatory of the law of the passover. As those who, against

their minds, are forced to absent themselves from God's

ordinances, may expect the favours of God's grace under their

affliction, so those who, of choice, absent themselves, may

expect God's wrath for their sin. Be not deceived: God is not

mocked.
15-23 This cloud was appointed to be the visible sign and

symbol of God's presence with Israel. Thus we are taught to see

God always near us, both night and day. As long as the cloud

rested on the tabernacle, so long they continued in the same

place. There is no time lost, while we are waiting God's time.

When the cloud was taken up, they removed, however comfortably

they were encamped. We are kept at uncertainty concerning the

time of our putting off the earthly house of this tabernacle,

that we may be always ready to remove at the command of the

Lord. It is very safe and pleasant going when we see God before

us, and resting where he appoints us to rest. The leading of

this cloud is spoken of as signifying the guidance of the

blessed Spirit. We are not now to expect such tokens of the

Divine presence and guidance; but the promise is sure to all

God's spiritual Israel, that he will guide them by his counsel.

#Ps 73:24|, even unto death, #Ps 48:14|. All the children of God

shall be led by the Spirit of God, #Ro 8:14|. He will direct the

paths of those who in all their ways acknowledge him, #Pr 3:6|.

At the commandment of the Lord, our hearts should always move

and rest, saying, Father, thy will be done; dispose of me and

mine as thou pleasest. What thou wilt, and where thou wilt; only

let me be thine, and always in the way of my duty. In applying

general precepts to particular circumstances, there should be

good counsel and fervent prayer. When any undertaking is

evidently wrong, or doubtfully right, and yet the mind leans

that way, in such a case "the moving of the cloud," as men

sometimes miscall it, is generally no more than a temptation

Satan is permitted to propose; and men fancy they are following

the Lord, when they are following their own wayward

inclinations. The record of his mercy will conduct us with

unerring truth, through Christ, to everlasting peace. Follow the

pillar of the cloud and of fire. Lay the BIBLE to heart, and

receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save

your souls.
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