Numbers 10 – Two Silver Trumpets, the Departure from the Sinai
A. Two silver trumpets.
1. (1-2) Two silver trumpets.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Make two silver trumpets for yourself; you shall make them of hammered work; you shall use them for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps.”
a. Make two silver trumpets: The two silver trumpets were for use in directing the movement of the camps for marching and for battle, and also for gathering the nation together for an assembly.
b. You shall use them for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps: The trumpets were essential tools for the journey to the Promised Land. Without them it would be very difficult to assemble the nation and march towards the Promised Land. Israel needed tools to come into the Promised Land.
2. (3-10) The system of blowing trumpets.
“When they blow both of them, all the congregation shall gather before you at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. But if they blow only one, then the leaders, the heads of the divisions of Israel, shall gather to you. When you sound the advance, the camps that lie on the east side shall then begin their journey. When you sound the advance the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall begin their journey; they shall sound the call for them to begin their journeys. And when the assembly is to be gathered together, you shall blow, but not sound the advance. The sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets; and these shall be to you as an ordinance forever throughout your generations. When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies. Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.”
a. When they blow both of them, all the congregation shall gather: Distinctive sounds were made to indicate gathering for assembly, marching, or warfare. God also promised to hear the trumpet of Israel in warfare, and to act on behalf of the nation.
i. “If we follow Jewish tradition, long blasts were used to assemble the people to Moses, to the tent of meeting and for worship. Short staccato blasts were used in battle and to order the camps to move off.” (Wenham)
b. Also in the day of your gladness: Trumpets were also to be sounded in the day of your gladness; they were a way of celebrating God’s people coming together and the presence of the Lord with them.
i. God will use the sound of a trumpet to gather His people for the ultimate assembling together – the rapture of the church, to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
B. Departure for the Promised Land.
1. (11-13) The march on Canaan begins.
Now it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle of the Testimony. And the children of Israel set out from the Wilderness of Sinai on their journeys; then the cloud settled down in the Wilderness of Paran. So they started out for the first time according to the command of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
a. And the children of Israel set out from the Wilderness of Sinai on their journeys: As the cloud began to move, one might imagine the huge sense of excitement that flowed through the people – now they were on their way to the Promised Land! Previously, their journey had been from Egypt and slavery; now it was to Canaan and liberty.
b. So they started out for the first time according to the command of the Lord by the hand of Moses: This was the first time Israel marched as an organized, prepared nation. They were not the same group that escaped Egypt as a mob.
i. They had been fully prepared to walk as Promised Land people and it was all focused towards this exact point: bringing them into the Promised Land:
· They were ordered and organized
· They were cleansed and purified
· They were set apart and blessed
· They were taught how to give and how to function as priests
· They were made to remember judgment spared and deliverance brought
· They were given God’s presence as a guide and the tools needed to lead the people
ii. One would be tempted to think that after such extensive preparation – a virtual transformation from slave people to Promised Land people – the actual entering into the Promised Land would be easy. This was not the case. The preparation was exactly that – preparation. Ahead of them are the greatest challenges, challenges that can only be met by faith. A soldier might think boot camp finishes something – but it doesn’t. It only prepares for a greater challenge: The actual battle itself.
2. (14-28) Description of the order of march.
The standard of the camp of the children of Judah set out first according to their armies; over their army was Nahshon the son of Amminadab. Over the army of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethanel the son of Zuar. And over the army of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab the son of Helon. Then the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set out, carrying the tabernacle. And the standard of the camp of Reuben set out according to their armies; over their army was Elizur the son of Shedeur. Over the army of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. And over the army of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Deuel. Then the Kohathites set out, carrying the holy things. (The tabernacle would be prepared for their arrival.) And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set out according to their armies; over their army was Elishama the son of Ammihud. Over the army of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. And over the army of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni. Then the standard of the camp of the children of Dan (the rear guard of all the camps) set out according to their armies; over their army was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. Over the army of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel the son of Ocran. And over the army of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira the son of Enan. Thus was the order of march of the children of Israel, according to their armies, when they began their journey.
a. The standard of the camp of the children of Judah set out first: They actually marched in the order God had commanded earlier in the book. This means that they took God’s word seriously, and followed it exactly – just as Promised Land people should.
b. When they began their journey: This was only the beginning. It would have been easy to see all they went through to get to Sinai, and the preparations as the end, but they were only the beginning.
3. (29-32) Moses appeals to his brother in law to stay with Israel.
Now Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will treat you well; for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.” And he said to him, “I will not go, but I will depart to my own land and to my relatives.” So Moses said, “Please do not leave, inasmuch as you know how we are to camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes. And it shall be, if you go with us; indeed it shall be; that whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same we will do to you.”
a. Come with us, and we will treat you well: Moses was a wise enough leader to know his limitations, and to know that he needed help. Instead of just saying, “well, God got us this far and He’ll see us through without Reuel” he knew God’s help often comes through men like Reuel.
i. Though Israel was guided by God, there was still help needed by man – men like Reuel. God plans it this way, often arranging it so His help comes to us partially through people He has ordained to help us.
b. Please do not leave: Since he knew God could use Reuel in a significant way, Moses was willing to appeal to him – and not take an initial “no” as an answer.
4. (33-36) Rise up, O Lord!
So they departed from the mountain of the Lord on a journey of three days; and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them for the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the Lordwas above them by day when they went out from the camp. So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: “Rise up, O Lord! Let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.” And when it rested, he said: “Return, O Lord, To the many thousands of Israel.”
a. And the cloud of the Lord was above them by day when they went out from the camp: As they begin the journey to the Promised Land, they were guided by God’s presence – and not by themselves. They followed the cloud no matter where God led them. If they were to camp in a rough place, they did it. If they were told to go on from a comfortable place, they did it. They allowed themselves to be guided by God, not by their own desire for comfort and ease.
b. Rise up, O Lord! Let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You! This was the prayer of Moses when the presence of God led them on.
i. The idea was simple: “God, go before us and take care of our enemies. It’s too dangerous ahead unless You do so!” What a fitting prayer for every believer to pray! God has things before us, places to lead us – shouldn’t we pray this same prayer?
ii. Isn’t this a fitting prayer also by which to remember the glory and strength of our resurrected Lord? When Jesus rose up, were not all His enemies scattered? Who dared oppose Him? Is not all our victory found in His risen glory?
c. Return, O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel: This was the prayer of Moses when God’s presence stopped, and indicated a place to camp. Moses then prayed, “Here we camp, Lord. Stay with us.”
i. God sometimes tells us to move on, sometimes tells us to “camp out” – either is fine when we are guided by His presence.
ii. “Will you and I go home and pray this prayer by ourselves, fervently laying hold upon the horns of God’s altar? I charge you, my brethren in Christ, do not neglect this private duty. Go, each of you, to your chambers; shut to your doors; cry to him who hears in secret, and let this be the burden of your cry – ‘Rise up, Lord; and let thine enemies be scattered.’” (Spurgeon)
© 2004 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission