Our Bible Lesson Column

Numbers 10:11‑13  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Golden Text. — “And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.
“And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai: and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.”—Num. 10:11-13. Read Num. 10:29-36.
Reading on the Lesson. Journeying to Canaan.
IN the third month of the first year the children of Israel came to Sinai, and on the first day of the first month of the second year the tabernacle was erected and accepted by God and filled with His glory (Ex. 19:1: 40:17, 34). Now, just fifty days later the cloud lifted, and they journeyed from Sinai to the wilderness of Paran. Whether it was the tabernacle and its erection, or the priesthood and the sacrifices, or the journeying through the wilderness, nothing was done, and no step was taken except as God commanded or guided by the pillar of cloud and fire. On the part of Moses and Israel it was simply a matter of obedience. Concerning the cloud and its guiding: and their obedience, see carefully Numbers 9:15-23.
29. “Come thou with us and we will do thee good, for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.” Thus said Moses to Hobab, the son of Raguel, or Rauel, or Jethro, the father of Zipporah, Moses’ wife (Ex. 2:18: 3:1). The Lord had truly spoken good concerning Israel—as in Ex. 6:6-8, that wondrous sevenfold “I will,” beginning and ending with “I, Jehovah.”
30. “And he said unto him, I will not go, but I will depart to mine own land and to my kindred.” It is difficult to many believers to esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the visible treasures of this world, yet Jesus and His sufferings now, with eternal glory hereafter, is the program for the Christian.
31. “Leave us not, I pray thee, forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes.” It looks as if, for the moment, Moses was forgetting God and His cloud and His unerring guidance. So unstable is man, even at his best.
32. “And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us the same will we do unto thee.” Moses now talks more correctly, for we are fully authorized to offer all the riches of God’s grace and glory to all who will accept Him through Jesus Christ, but we are not authorized to seek either help or guidance from those who are not His.
33. “And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days’ journey, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days’ journey to search out a resting-place for them.” This was infinitely better than the eyes or the wisdom of Hobab. How could Moses forget, or seem to, that God had led them out, and would surely lead them all the way?
34. “And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day when they went out of the camp.” The cloud was the visible symbol of the Lord’s presence with them, and He by it was their guide, their light, their shield, their oracle, their avenger, their covering (Ex. 13:21: 14:19, 20, 24-28: Num. 9:15-23: 10:34: 14:14)—in fact, all they needed for all their journey.
35. “And it came to pass when the ark set forward that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee.” David, by the Spirit, afterward embodied this in at least two of the Psalms (68:1, 2; 132:8). In Josh. 3:13 the ark is called “the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth,” and before it Jordan was dried up and the walls of Jericho fell down.
36. “And when it rested he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.” Thus, whether on the march or at rest, the great reality of Israel’s life was Jehovah in their midst. In proportion as they realized this and acted accordingly they prospered, but when they forgot Him they failed. It is so with us. He says, “Lo, I am with you always,” and when we believe this, and thus realize His presence (for the only way to realize anything in the spiritual life is to believe it) and count on Him, we have joy and peace and victory, but when we forget His presence we fall.