Numbers 10

Chapter ten records God’s final instruction to Moses before Israel first started out from Sinai. While they were still camped at God’s mountain, there was no reason to signal the people. However, as they began their trek, Moses would need a way to communicate with the nation, so God instructed him to have two long trumpets made (Numbers 10:1-10). These were to be used only by the priests and for five purposes – to assemble the whole community, to assemble just the leaders of the people, to announce when they were to move, to lead the army into battle, and to announce times of national celebration.

Fifty days after Moses began to assemble the tabernacle for the first time, God had the people get up and move from Sinai (Numbers 10:11-28; see Exodus 40:1). 1 It happened just as God had instructed – the cloud moved, the trumpets sounded, and the people moved. The order of the line began with the three tribes associated with Judah, then the Levites carrying the tabernacle frames and curtains. The second sets of three tribes, led by Reuben, were followed by the Levites who carried the tabernacle furniture. The final six tribes came up in the back. The exception to this pattern was that the ark of the covenant led the entire process, and the cloud hovered over the ark (Numbers 10:33).

In Exodus 18, Moses’ father-in-law gave him some wise counsel about leading the nation, which Moses followed. Exodus 18:27 says that Jethro then returned back to his home. Although there is some confusion over exactly who Hobab is here in Numbers 10:29-32, because of the timing, the translations that use “brother-in-law” seem to make more sense. After Jethro (called Reuel here) returned home, Hobab must have stayed with Israel until they prepared to go to Canaan. Moses tried to get him to go with them, and although this text does not say whether he did or not, Judges 1:16 indicates that he did.

The final two verses record a prayer that Moses gave when the cloud moved and when it stopped (Numbers 10:35-36). At the beginning of each leg of the journey, he prayed for God’s protection for the people from their enemies. When they stopped, he prayed for God’s presence to remain with them. There is an obvious thought of God going before them to fight, then returning to them and dwelling with them. It is a wonderful concept, and certainly necessary for them, but believers have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and the promise that he does not leave and has no need to return.

Notes:

  1. This indicates that the entire book of Leviticus and the book of Numbers to this point took place during this time.

Numbers 6

Chapter six outlines the procedures for a special type of vow – the Nazirite vow. Nazirite means “consecrated one,” and most who took this vow did so temporarily. Only two men were clearly said to have been lifelong Nazirites — Samuel (1 Samuel 1:27-28) and Samson (Judges 13:4-5, 14) — although some teachers believe that John the Baptizer may have been as well. This vow was available to both men and women.

The requirements of the Nazirite vow consisted of three parts (Numbers 6:1-8): 1) do not consume anything from a grapevine, fruit or drink; 2) do not cut one’s hair; 3) do not come in contact with a dead body, even a close relative. Since the third part was not completely in their control, God made allowance in case a person died right next to him and he touched the body (Numbers 6:9-12). He was required to go through seven days of purification, then shave his head, offer sacrifices, and start the length of his vow over again. The time from before his defilement had been voided. At the end of the vowed length of time, he would bring sacrifices to the tabernacle to offer to Jehovah and shave his head again (Numbers 6:13-21). After this, he was free to eat and drink again as before his vow.

The chapter concludes with what has become a well-known blessing (Numbers 6:22-27). God gave the priests a blessing which they could say over the Israelites, tying the people to the very name of Jehovah.

Romans 1

Chapter one begins with Paul’s traditional greeting with his name (Romans 1:1), the recipients (Romans 1:7), and a prayer of thanksgiving (Romans 1:8). However, it is also very untraditional in that he took five verses to set the tone for the letter, specifically the foundation for his gospel message and his authority as an apostle (Romans 1:2-6). This, he wrote, was solely through the resurrection of Christ, at which point he was appointed by God to be “the Son-of-God-in-power,” having accomplished everything necessary to fulfill the role “he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures.”

In Romans 1:8-15 Paul revealed his long-time desire to visit the Roman believers. As the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Galatians 2:9), he desperately wanted to visit them to “impart to [them] some spiritual gift” and to “be mutually comforted by one another’s faith,” but he was always stopped (Romans 1:13; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:18).

The crux of the chapter, even the book, is established in Romans 1:16-17. Because Paul so badly wanted to “preach the gospel to” the Romans, but was unable to do so, he did the next best thing – wrote this letter all about the gospel. No matter where it led him or what he faced because of it, Paul would never be ashamed of this gospel, because it alone “is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes.” It is this gospel which reveals once and for all “the righteousness of God” that brings true life.

The final section of this first chapter (Romans 1:18-32) explains the position of the pagan world in relation to God’s righteousness, namely, that they “suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,” thereby bringing “the wrath of God…against all [their] ungodliness and unrighteousness.” The specific ways a Gentile person, tribe, or nation may suppress God’s truth is numerous, but they all follow the same general patterns, often beginning a downward spiral away from him. First, they reject what they know to be true about him – he is eternal and transcendent – by shaping him into the likeness of physical beings, minimizing his full glory. Next, they reject him altogether and begin to worship “the creation rather than the Creator.” Finally, they begin to worship themselves, man become god, leaving nothing to the imagination and fulfilling any wicked desire that fills their sinful hearts. As a result, if they do not repent and return to him, there is a point of “no return” at which God will “give them over to [their] dishonorable passions… [and] to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.” At this stage, they become like Israel in the days of the judges where each “generation would act more wickedly than the previous one” and “each man did what he considered to be right” (Judges 2:19; 21:25). This is the default state of the world without God, not only doing evil “but also approv[ing] of those who practice” it.