The Silver Trumpets

 •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 8
“The Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them; that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And if they blow with but one trumpet, then the princes, heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.
When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward.
When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.
But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm.
And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets: and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever throughout your generations.
And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.
Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God."
-Num. 10:1-101And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God. (Numbers 10:1‑10)
IT may be well to consider this type in connection with what has been said respecting the silver sockets: as the appointment of these trumpets seems to owe its significance to the fact, that they must have been made of silver atonement-money.
It is true, that all the silver paid in half-shekels as ransom-money was used in forming the hundred sockets, and hooks, and capitals of the court-pillars. But there was an additional numbering, recorded in Num. 3:40-5140And the Lord said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names. 41And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the Lord) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel. 42And Moses numbered, as the Lord commanded him, all the firstborn among the children of Israel. 43And all the firstborn males by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen. 44And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 45Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord. 46And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites; 47Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:) 48And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons. 49And Moses took the redemption money of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites: 50Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: 51And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Numbers 3:40‑51), in which the first-born of males of Israel were numbered, amounting to 22, 273. For these the Levite, were substituted. But the number of the Levites was less by 273 than the first-born of the tribes. God accordingly directed that these 273 first-born Israelites, should be redeemed at the price of five shekels a head, " after the shekel of the sanctuary:-the shekel is 20 gerahs." Here was another source from which silver was derived for the use of Aaron and his sons, in the service of God. How at every turn in the history of this people, the great subject of redemption is made prominent! Type is crowded upon type, expressive of the one great aspect of redemption, viz: Substitution.
The life of the Passover-lamb in Egypt was substituted for the life of each family of Israel, gathered in each house, under the shelter of the blood. Again: God claimed Israel's first-born as His, because He had substituted for them, in destruction, the first-born of Egypt.
Every sacrifice on which the hand was laid, betokened substitution. The atonement-money was another aspect of the same truth. The Levites were substituted for the first-born: and lastly, five shekels a-head was a price substituted for the redemption of those, on behalf of whom there were no living Levites to minister before God.
How blessedly all this crowd of types finds its substance in Christ, the Lamb of God, the all-sufficient substitute provided by God.
The two trumpets were to be made of silver, of one piece, that each might give the same sound; and though that sound was, by doubling it, to be increased in power; yet the note given forth from each trumpet was to be precisely the same, in perfect unison. One clear shrill blast was to rouse the camp, either to assemble themselves together before the tabernacle of the Lord, or to march on their journey. These are first specified (v. 2) as the two great objects for which the trumpets were made: and, as the chapter proceeds, they enlarge into four principal occasions on which these instruments of silver were to be employed.
First: " When they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And if they blow with but one trumpet, then the princes, which are the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee." v. 3, 4.
The sound of these silver trumpets was to be the voice to assemble Israel to their king or leader Moses, at the door of the tabernacle. The call was sent forth from instruments made of the silver redemption-money. They sounded out a cheerful yet solemn note, summoning Israel, as redeemed and numbered for God, to assemble in great congregation in the presence of the Lord; and to hear from the lips of His servant Moses, words of encouragement, direction, or reproof. The very sound that fell upon their ears, reminded them of the fact that they were God's people; redeemed at a price; numbered as His own; delivered from the bondage of Egypt, to be the servants and soldiers of the Most High.
The exhortation in Heb. 10, " not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together," is based on the same truth. Believers individually, having the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and personally clean through the precious blood of atonement, are upon that ground, to draw near to God in the holiest; and next, upon the same ground, to assemble in congregation for worship, prayer, praise, and mutual exhortation. They gather around the High Priest over the house of God, within the vail; in contrast with Israel, who gathered themselves to Moses at the door of the tabernacle. Let us bear in mind, that we meet not in order to gain access to God, nor to make a way of approach to Him, but because we have been already redeemed, and because the way has been made open into His presence by the death of Christ. The voice of the Great Shepherd calls us together; the voice that speaks peace and salvation to our souls. Silvery sounds of grace and truth proceed from His lips, poured into them from His heart. He preaches righteousness in the great congregation, and refrains not His lips. And when He sounds at last the great trumpet of redemption, the blessed and mighty blast of which will reach every ransomed ear, He will gather around Him by that sound, the great and glorious company that no man can number, redeemed out of every kindred, and nation, and tongue, at the cost of His precious blood. Then will the great congregation at length be assembled, in the glorious tabernacle not made with hands; and the eternal song of praise be raised to our God, by the Lord Himself, the chief musician; and one vast Hallelujah chorus from heaven and earth will echo the joyful sound.
The law was given by Moses, and was accompanied with sounds of terrific majesty. The trumpet waxed louder and louder, and the voice of words was so appalling that the people intreated that the word should be spoken to them no more, and even Moses said, " I exceedingly fear and quake." Here was truth proclaimed, apart from grace; righteousness:',' apart from mercy. But grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. In Him these two attributes of God marvelously blended. Like the two trumpets of silver which were sounded together, and produced one harmonious note; so the testimony borne by God's blessed Son, and manifested by Him in His death on the tree, was ever one of mingled grace and truth; peace and righteousness; love and holiness; mercy and judgment.
Secondly: " When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets: and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever throughout your generations." v. 5-8.
The same sound that summoned Israel into the presence of God, for worship or instruction, also aroused them for the march. The notes given forth by the silver trumpets on both occasions were identical, though they were sounded after a different fashion: for in the case of their journeys, the priests were to blow an alarm. There might be no foe apparently at hand. The path over the desert might seem to be straight-forward and plain enough. Nevertheless, they were always to set out on their fresh march under the sound of an alarm. For the foe was at hand, although they might not know it. The way was difficult and dangerous, although it might appear smooth. Just so is it with the Church of God, and with the individual believer. Every fresh step in the way, every change, is attended with danger and temptation. Satan, the unperceived enemy, hovers about the path of the saint. He lays fresh snares, and digs new pit-falls, at every turn. The soldier of Christ has to march on in careful watchfulness, not ignorant of the devices of the foe, conscious of his own high calling, as a redeemed one of the Lord; and therefore fearing lest he should sully his spotless garments, or dishonor the great Captain of his salvation.
An allusion to this is apparently made in 1 Peter, 1. 17-20. The apostle exhorts the saints, upon two grounds, to pass the time of their sojourning here in fear; because they could call God their Father, invoking Him to their aid on that account; and because they had been redeemed, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. As strangers therefore and pilgrims, he exhorts them to march to the sound of an alarm; not under fear of wrath or judgment, but in godly fear, reverence for Him whom they could call their Father, and remembering the vast price that had been paid for their redemption.
And so it will ever be. The more we estimate the cost at which we have been ransomed, and the love of Him who spared not His own Son, the more we shall walk carefully and watchfully in the midst of this ensnaring world. The sighs, and groans, and agonies of Christ on the tree-sounds of redemption; will cause us to walk circumspectly, and with godly fear, even though no danger may seem to be imminent.
Thirdly: " If ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets: and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies." v. 9.
There are only two occasions recorded, in which these trumpets of silver were used in war. The first, Num. 31:66And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. (Numbers 31:6), when Israel avenged themselves on the Midianites; a thousand of each tribe being selected to go forth against the foe, accompanied by Phinehas the son of Eleazer the priest, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand.
The other instance is 2 Chron. 13:1212And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper. (2 Chronicles 13:12). The enemy in this case, was no longer a Midianite host, or a Canaanite nation; but alas! it was a portion of Israel opposed to Judah. Abijah the king still preserved the worship of the true God, and set the battle in array against Jeroboam, although the latter numbered an army of double the size. Jeroboam relied on his idols of gold, and the multitude of his host; Abijah trusted in the presence of the living God, and His priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against the foe. Jeroboam was able completely to surround the army of Abijah, so that the battle raged, both in front and in the rear. But in this extremity, they cried unto the Lord, and the priests sounded with the trumpets: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass that God smote Jeroboam, and all Israel, before Judah.
These are instructive scenes. Perils arise both from open adversaries, and from false brethren; from Satan's hosts, manifestly opposing truth, and from Satan, transformed into an angel of light; and his ministers, as ministers of righteousness. The sound of the silver trumpets was to alarm Israel, when marching in seeming security. The same sound was to alarm God, when Israel was about to be overpowered by the foe.
In like manner, the fact that we are redeemed by the blood of Christ, is ever to be ringing in our ears, to make us careful and watchful on our journey. And when we feel the oppression of the enemy; when the rulers of the darkness of this world attack us in our own land, and seek to overwhelm and overpower us; we have but to claim God as our Father, Christ as the Captain of our Salvation; and let the cry of distress sound in the ears of the Lord of Hosts, and the victory is surely ours. We shall be remembered before the Lord our God, and be saved from our enemies.-" Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."-" Be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus."-" In all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us."- " Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Fourthly: " Also in the days of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace-offerings, that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God." v. 10.
The ear of the true Israelite must have been habituated to the blast of these silver trumpets. He had been called into the presence of God by them; He had marched to their sound in the wilderness; God's aid had been invoked through them, to his rescue in the midst of the battle. Days of joy, and solemn days, when he had to afflict his soul before the Lord, were ushered in by the same holy notes: and each fresh period of time, as the month opened with the new moon, was marked by the like musical tones falling on his ear. Scarcely a day therefore would be past, without his thoughts being re-awakened to the fact that he had been redeemed to God. And as the burnt-offerings, and peace sacrifices, periodically presented on God's altar, preserved a constant odor of a sweet savor before the Lord; the blowing of these trumpets over these offerings was intended to remind Israel, that the value of these sacrifices was theirs; and to call God's attention to the blessed fact, that they were accepted as His people through the shedding of blood, and the substitution of another in their stead.
In like manner, the whole life of a redeemed sinner is to be pervaded by one constant thought, that he is not his own, but belongs to God. A redemption-sound is to be mingled with his hours of joy, or of sorrow. And if he takes note of time in its rapid flight, it should be that he may learn to redeem it, by rendering himself a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to the Lord, which is his reasonable service. Is not this truth in type, presented by the beginnings of months marked out in Israel's history, by the blowing of the silver trumpets over the sacrifices.
The expression, "redeeming the time," apparently implies more than merely using the time profitably. It has the thought in it, of buying back the past by means of a right use of the present. And is not this ever the way of grace? God would have us profit by past neglect, failures, and sins.
He not only mercifully averts, through the blood of Christ, their sad results in judgment; but through a deeper acquaintance with the value of the cross, gained by the humbling retrospect of the past, He desires that we should be better able to occupy the present moment to His glory. Vain regrets profit nothing. But the believer may profit much by retracing past mistakes and sins, and marking the abundant grace and wisdom, in which God has met every short-coming and folly. Love for Him will be thus increased. He that has had much forgiven will love the more. Misspent time may be redeemed by wise and diligent use of precious experiences thus gained. Even as unconverted sinners, we have each passed through our own peculiar training, which if rightly understood, serves to fit us for some especial work for God. What would Paul the apostle have been, had he not previously spent his days as Saul of Tarsus, the persecuting Pharisee?
Surely each believer will have his own peculiar joy in the work of Christ for himself, as he will have to record his own peculiar history of evil.
May our souls, our lives, be filled with the remembrance of the price that has been paid for us; and may we be able, in some measure to say with Paul, " The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."