NUMBERS CHAPTER 9.

Celebration of the Passover.
The Guiding Cloud.

the passover proper. V. 1. 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, v. 2. Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season. It was true, indeed, that the Lord had instituted the Passover as a memorial before the Lord forever, Ex. 12, 14, but there was a possibility of the people's understanding the command as referring to the time of their living in Canaan only, Ex. 12, 25. So the Lord at this time, immediately after the erection of the Tabernacle, Ex. 40, 2. 17, repeated the command enjoining the regular celebration of the festival, at that same certain time which had been set for that purpose. V. 3. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, literally, "between the two evenings," Ex. 12, 6, 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. The essential feature of the festival, the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, remained throughout the ages, even after the ceremonies which were peculiar to the first celebration in Egypt, such as the eating of the meal attired in traveling dress and the painting of the door-posts and lintels with blood, had been discontinued. V. 4. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel that they should keep the Passover. V. 5. 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. It is a striking feature of the narrative at this time that it refers time and again to the obedience of the Israelites. It was the time of their first love. The great test of believers at all times is their steadfastness after the force of the first mighty impetus is spent, Rev. 2, 4.

the substitute festival, or little passover. V. 6. And there were certain men, probably Mishael and. Elizaphan, Lev. 10, 4. 5, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day, Lev. 19, 28; and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day; v. 7. and those men said unto him, We are defiled, Levitically unclean, by the dead body of a man; wherefore are we kept back, literally, "shortened," not given our full rights and privileges, that we may not offer an offering of the Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel? They had reference to the precept which excluded the Levitically unclean from offering a sacrifice and from partaking in a sacrificial meal, Lev. 7, 21. V. 8. And Moses aid unto them, Stand still, have patience, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you. He made use of careful prudence in dealing with these men and with the situation in which they found themselves, lest hasty advice should meet with the Lord's disapproval. V. 9. And the Lord spake unto Moses, in answer to his inquiry, saying, v. 10. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity, for this was to be a standing rule, shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, the former possibility, of course, including every form of temporary Levitical uncleanness, yet he shall keep the Passover unto the Lord, not merely as a privilege, but as a duty. V. 11. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, just one month later than the Passover proper, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, Ex. 12, 8. V. 12. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it, Ex. 12, 10. 46; according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it. Since the celebration of the Passover was a sign of Israel's close fellowship with God, its solemnity had to be insisted upon, also in the Little Passover. V. 13. But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, deliberately neglects this solemn religious duty, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people, not only by excommunication, but by death, because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season; that man shall bear his sin. This provision effectually hindered all indifference with regard to the celebration of the Passover. V. 14. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you and will keep the Passover unto the Lord, after submitting to the rite of circumcision, Ex. 12, 48. 49, according to the ordinance of the Passover and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do, be put on equal terms with, and treated exactly like, a born Jew; ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land. Note that it is not a sign of weakness, but of faithfulness, in a pastor if he asks for time to consult Scriptures before rendering an opinion in a difficult matter.

the cloud of the lord's presence . V. 15. And on the day that the Tabernacle was reared up, the cloud covered the Tabernacle, namely, the Tent of the Testimony, Ex. 40, 34; and at even there was upon the Tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire until the morning. It was not a pillar of physical, earthly fire, but the brightness of the Lord's presence, as He kept watch over His people in the midst of the camp. The Tabernacle is called the Tent of Testimony because the two tables of the Law, of the witness of the Lord to His people, were kept in the Ark of the Covenant, in the Most Holy Place. V. 16. So it was alway, not only on the day of the dedication of the Tabernacle; the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. V. 17. And when the cloud was taken up from the Tabernacle, immediately after its removal, which was a signal to all the people, then after that the children of Israel journeyed, they struck their tents and set forth in their armies; and in the place where the cloud abode, where it sank to the ground, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. V. 18. At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched, they observed the signals of the cloud as He had told them; as long as the cloud abode upon the Tabernacle, they rested in tents, they remained in camp. V. 19. And when the cloud tarried long upon the Tabernacle many days, if it extended its resting over a long period of time, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not, they observed that which was given them to observe by the Lord, attending to His worship. Lev. 8, 35. V. 20. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the Tabernacle, a number of days which was quickly counted; according to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents, and according- to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed. V. 21. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, only overnight, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed; whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. V. 22. 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. V. 23. 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. This detailed description of the manner of signaling to the entire host and of the unquestioning obedience rendered by the people serves to emphasize not only the dependence of the children of Israel upon the Lord, but especially His providential care for them.  Every believer that places himself under the gracious direction of the Lord in all matters pertaining to his life will find this to his temporal and eternal advantage.