Numbers Chapter 9:1-10:10 Be Ready at All Times for the Messiah’s Return.

1. Overview of God’s First Eight Lessons in Preparing for the Journey to the Promised Land.

  • Chapter 1 (Faith). Have faith in God’s plans. God showed the Jews that they could have faith in His promises. From 12 wayward and sinful men, He created an army of 603,550 (Nu. 1:46). Within the leaders’ names, He gave His people 12 lessons on effective warfare.

  • Chapter 2 (Knowledge). Know your place and what you believe. To make sure that everyone knew their place in His army, God ordered each tribe to a specific place around the Tabernacle and to have its own flag. The flags of the four leading tribes told the story of Christ’s future redemption. The arrangement of the tribes formed a cross from the air. To fight in God’s army, the cross must symbolize what you believe in.

  • Chapter 3 (Obedience). Be obedient to God. As part of Hs royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9), you must: (1) be obedient to the Word (Nu. 3:1-4); (2) fear Him (Nu. 3:1-4); (3) draw near to serve Him (Nu. 3:5-13); (4) know the needs of others (symbolized by the census and the list of names) (Nu. 3:15; 40); (5) know that each has a different but important role (Nu. 3:25-39); (6) keep Him at the center of your life; and (7) be set apart for Him (Nu. 3:40-51).

  • Chapter 4 (Righteousness). Live a righteous life in Christ. Here, the lessons include: (1) being spiritually mature (Nu. 4:1-3); (2) being holy (Nu. 4:4-20); (3) being ready to explain the hope within you by explaining the barriers of sin and the keys to salvation (Nu. 4:4-20; 1 Pet. 3:15); (4) living a godly life (Nu. 4:21-26); (5) being obedient (Nu. 4:27-28); (6) being filled with praise for Him (Nu. 4:29-33); and (7) being ready to serve (Nu. 4:34-49).

  • Chapter 5 (Holiness). Keeping the Church holy. The Church had to also remain pure to be led by the Spirit. The lessons include: (1) being free from sin (Nu. 5:1-4); (2) restoration after sin (Nu. 5:5-10); (3) being set apart from the world; (4) allowing God to examine your heart for hidden sins; (5) being free from spiritual adultery with the things of the world; (6) cleansing your heart when He exposes it; and (7) bearing fruit of the Spirit when He has cleansed you of all unrighteousness (Nu. 5:11-31).

  • Chapter 6 (Sanctification/Purity). Keeping the Church set apart. The Church had seven lessons to learn about being sanctified for service. These included: (1) dedicating itself to God (Nu. 6:1); (2) the denial of worldly pleasures (Nu. 6:3-4); (3) humility in outward appearances (Nu. 6:5); (4) being undefiled by the sins of the world (Nu. 6:6-8; 19:11-14); (5) treating vows to God seriously (Nu. 6:9-12.); (6) staying pure (Nu. 6:13-21); and (7) passing the blessings of God unto others (Nu. 6:22-27; Lev. 9:22-23; 2 Cor. 13:14).

  • Chapter 7 (Unity in the Spirit). Keeping the Church unified in one accord. The seven lessons for Church unity included: (1) laboring together under God’s authority (Nu. 7:1-9); (2) having the leaders act together in one accord (Nu. 7:10-11); (3) ensuring that all tithe out of joy (Nu. 7:12-89); (4) the Church must not be motivated by the flesh (Nu. 7:13); (5) the Holy Spirit must lead (Nu. 7:13); (6) the Church must seek God in prayer (Nu. 7:14); and (7) the Church must share a common belief in the need to atone for sin (Nu. 7:15-23).

  • Chapter 8 (Their Purpose). Be a light unto the world. God gave the Jews a new beginning so that they could be a light unto the world (Is. 42:6). To be a light you must: (1) have Jesus at the center of your life; (2) let God purify you; (3) be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and the seven manifestations of the Spirit; (4) Let Jesus cleanse you of your sins; (5) be set apart for Him; (6) serve others; and (7) mentor others as you become spiritually mature in your walk.

2. A Story Told Out of Order For a Reason. Compare Numbers 1:1 with Numbers 9:1-2.

  • The Bible reveals that the events of Numbers chapter 9 took place before chapter 1. Some commentaries assume that the scrolls were placed out of order. But nothing in the Bible happens without a reason. Sometimes an event can be told out of order to emphasize a point. After telling the Jews that their purpose was to be a light unto the world, God’s final message was to reveal to them the need for a second Passover for those who were unable to attend the normal Passover. Some see no relevance in either Passover because Christ fulfilled the Old Testament sacrifices. Again, such a view missed the point. The chapter has a final message about preparing for two returns of the Passover lamb. In other words, this chapter foreshadows the two trips of the Messiah to Earth, something many Jews deny will happen.

3. The First Passover and the First Coming of Christ. Nu. 9:2-5, 12-14; Lev. 23:4-5; Ex. 12.

  • The shadows and rehearsing for Jesus. The New Testament states that these holy days reveal the “shadows” of Christ (Col. 2:16-7; Heb. 10:1). These “holy convocations” or “miqras” can also be translated as “rehearsals” (Lev. 23:2). In celebrating these festivals, the Jews gave thanks for God’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt. They also unknowingly rehearsed for the Christ’s deliverance of all believers from the bondage of sin.

(1) The timing of Passover / Pesach. Passover was the first of three festivals that happened over one week beginning at sundown on the day of the first new moon after the spring equinox, sometime in March or April (Nu. 9:1; Ex. 12:1-4). “Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night.” (Dt. 16:1; Lev. 23:5-6, 11). The Passover celebrated that, during the final plague, the shed blood of the lamb allowed each family who acted in faith to have death “pass over” their firstborn child (Ex. 12:12-13, 22-23). To protect the poor who could not afford a lamb, the rabbis followed these verses by allowing at least ten but not more than twenty to pool their resources to buy a Passover lamb. The Jews observed Passover during the month of “Abib” or “Avivi”, a Hebrew name which refers to the month in when the barley harvest was ripe. After Babylonian captivity, the name of this month changed to “Nisan.” (Neh. 2:1; Esther 3:7). The name “Nisan” is still used today. It was also the beginning of the first month of the religious calendar. It was the seventh month (eighth, in leap year) on the civil calendar. Both the changed name of the month and the beginning of a second calendar system had meaning. Both foreshadowed your “new beginning” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Like the Jews, you also have two calendars in your life. You have the day that you were physically born. This is your civil calendar. You also have a day on God’s calendar when you accepted Christ and were “born again” (John 3:3-7).

The year of Christ’s sacrifice. The year that the Messiah would be “cut off” was also predicted in Daniel, 483 years after the rebuilding of the Temple (Dan. 9:24-26 – “69 weeks” with each “day” representing 7 years). Thus, the rabbis should have been looking for the Messiah when Jesus entered Jerusalem. The specific day and hour were also foretold in advance.

The date and hour of Jesus’ sacrifice. God also gave the blood of His firstborn son to allow judgment to “pass over” His believers: “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”’ (Jo. 1:29). “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” (Is. 53:7). On the 10th day of the month of Nisan / Abib, the Jews selected the Passover lamb (Ex. 12:3). On the 10th day of Nisan / Abib, Jesus also entered Jerusalem on a donkey with people shouting “Hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:5-9; Mk. 11:8-10). This fulfilled a prophesy identifying Him as the Messiah (Zech. 9:9). On the 14th day of Nisan / Abib, the Passover lamb was to be slaughtered on the ninth hour (3:00 pm), counting from 6:00 am (Nu. 9:3, 28:16; Lev. 23:5; Ex. 12:6). On the 14th day on the ninth hour Jesus also died (Matt. 27:45-50; 28:1; Mk. 15:29; Jo. 2:19). What day of the week was the 10th? Christians believe it was either Thursday or Friday. Jesus rose on the “first” day of the week. This was Sunday (Matt. 28:1; Mk. 16:9). He also made clear that He would spend exactly three days in the grave: “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40; Jonah 1:17). Counting backwards from Sunday, three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth would require that He be sacrificed on a Thursday, not a Friday. Friday would only allow for two days and two nights. Other Christians believe that He was crucified on a Friday because His body was removed before the Sabbath day, which normally happens on Saturday (Mk. 15:42; Lk. 23:54). How do we reconcile these verses? Both sets of verses can be harmonized if the Passover was a “special Sabbath” on Friday that preceded the regular Sabbath on Saturday: “Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.” (Jo. 19:31) (NIV). Regardless of its actual calendar day, the Passover was a holy convocation where no work was allowed (Ex. 12:15-17; Lev. 23:5-7). Many further believe that it was a Tuesday when Jesus warned that the Passover and His crucifixion was two days away (Matt. 26:2) (E.g., Hershberger, Ervin, Seeing Christ in the Tabernacle, Vision Publishers (2010)). This again would be a Thursday. Also, being selected on the 10th and killed on the 14th would make for a complete week of seven days if He spent three days in the Earth beginning on the 14th. Yet, this debate is not a salvation issue. Whether you give thanks to Jesus for His sacrifice on a Thursday or a Friday doesn’t matter.

(2) The unblemished lamb. The Passover lamb (the “korban Pesach”) had to be without blemish or it could not be used in the sacrifice: “5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.” (Ex. 12:5). Jesus also was unblemished: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:18:19). At the end of this chapter, God further specified that the sacrifice could have no broken bones: “nor are you to break any bone of it.” (Ex. 12:46). This again foreshadowed Christ. He died on the cross without any of His bones being broken (Ps. 22:17; Jo. 19:32-36). To make sure that the lamb was unblemished, it was observed between the 10th and the 14th of Nisan / Abib. During this time, Jesus was tried by the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. But Pontius Pilot could find no fault in Him (Lk. 23:4; Jo. 19:6). He lived as a holy sacrifice for you. In turn, He wants you to leave a holy life without blemish or sin for Him (Ro. 12:1; 1 Pet. 1:16; Lev. 11:45; 19:2).

(3) The entire assembly kills the lamb. The “people of the community of Israel” participated in the killing of the Passover lamb (Ex. 12:6). Jesus was also put to death by the people of the community of Israel: “Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Crucify Him!’” (Matt. 27:22). Yet, it wasn’t just the Jews who killed Jesus. Every believer killed Jesus with their sins.

(4) The blood on the door posts. After killing the lamb, the Jews put some of the blood on their doorposts to remember how the angel of death passed over them (Ex. 12:7). If a Jew applied the blood but did not believe in it, he or she would still be judged. By contrast, if an Egyptian applied the blood and believed in it, he or she would be saved. The blood of the lamb was available to all. Jesus was the door upon which the person must place the blood in faith to be saved: “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.’” (Jo. 10:7). “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (Jo. 10:9). It is only through your faith in Him that you are saved. If you believe that your good works make you eligible to go to heaven, His blood is not on the doorposts of your heart.

(5) The eating of the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The Jews were to eat the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (“maror”) (Ex. 12:8-9). Leaven is a symbol of sin because sin rises like the leaven in bread (1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9). Jesus was the unleavened bread. He was the “unleavened” bread because He lived without sin (2 Cor. 5:21). He also became our bread to sustain us. At the Last Supper, “Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.”’ (Matt. 26:26; 1 Cor. 11:24). The bitter herbs reminded the Jews of their suffering in Egypt. They also remind us of Jesus’ suffering in having His blood spilled as part of the New Covenant: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ [Jesus] said to them.” (Mk. 14:24; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2:24; Is. 53:4-12). Before being nailed to the cross, He was brutally whipped (Matt. 27:26; Jo. 19:1). Does your worship remember His brutal suffering for you?

(6) The commandment not to delay in eating the sacrifice. Because the Jews were told to flee Egypt, they were not to delay in eating the Passover sacrifice (Ex. 12:10-11). Jesus also does not want you to delay in consuming what He offers you. This was the first of seven times where this commandment appeared in the Torah (Lev. 19:6-8; 7:14-15; 22:29-30; Ex. 23:18-19; 34:25(b)). Jesus rose before the third day so that His body would not be corrupted (Acts 2:27; Ps. 16:10). We can therefore eat the communion that He offers from His body because it is holy. By telling the people not to delay until morning, Jesus was also telling them not to delay in giving the best of their time, talent, and treasure for Him. “But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”’ (Matt. 8:22). Are you acting upon Jesus’ calling in your life? Or, are you putting it off?

(7) The blood is the only means for escaping judgment. The blood of the lamb was not optional. It was the only means of escaping God’s judgment (Ex. 12:12-13). Without the blood of Jesus, none are righteous before God: “[T]here is no one who does good.” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (Ps. 143:2). “There is none righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Rom. 3:10-11). Only the blood of Christ can save you from judgment: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). The shedding of the blood at the altar symbolized the exchanging of His life for yours (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). “God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.” (Rom. 3:25). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, . . .” (Gal. 3:13). What are you doing to thank Him? (Ro. 12:1).

  • What Deuteronomy and Leviticus add to the Passover laws. The separate account of Passover in Deuteronomy reveals that the sacrifice had to be performed at the “appointed place”, which at that time was Jerusalem: “You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the Lord your God is giving you; but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt. You shall cook and eat it in the place which the Lord your God chooses. . . .” (Dt. 16:5-7). In Leviticus, God also revealed that the “flesh” of the sacrifice had to be taken outside of “the camp” (Lev. 4:11-12; 6:10-11; 9:11). Jesus became our “flesh” and our sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Thus, to fulfill the Law, He was also led outside of Jerusalem to die on Calvary Hill (Jo. 19:16-19; Heb. 13:11-13). Calvary Hill is also most likely “Mount Moriah,” where Abraham prepared to offer up his son Isaac (Gen. 22; 2 Chr. 3:1). In a foreshadow of Christ, Abraham said at the time: ‘“God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’” (Gen. 22:8). The ram was later “caught in a thicket” (Gen. 22:13). This again foreshadowed Jesus, who wore a crown of thorns (Jo. 19:5). Thus, Jesus was the Passover sacrifice who died at the predicted time and the appointed place. He fulfilled the Law perfectly. He also died outside the gates of Jerusalem on Calvary Hill (Jo. 19:16-19; Heb. 13:10-13). If Resurrection Sunday has become a ritual for you, mediate on these statutes that Jesus fulfilled.

4. The Second Passover and God’s Grace to Give Second Chances. Nu. 9:6-14.

  • Sin, which results in death, cannot be in God’s presence. According to Jewish tradition, the men who were unclean during the first Passover carried either the bones of Joseph or the sons of Aaron. Anyone who touched a corpse or was even near a dead corpse was unclean for seven days (Nu. 19:11, 14). Death came from mankind’s original sin (Gen. 3:19; Rom. 5:14-19). Because death is the result of original sin, it cannot be in God’s presence. Yet, our God is a living God, not a god of the dead (Rev. 7:2).

  • Jesus has broken the curse of death. Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it (Matt. 5:18). He touched the dead daughter of Jairus and brought her back to life (Mk. 5:22-23, 38-42). He also went into the tomb of Lazarus (Mary’s brother) and brought him from the dead (Jo. 11:32-45). He touch these dead bodies as our High Priest without breaking the Law because He fulfilled the Law and became death for us (Ro. 5:17). But this leaves the Jews with a problem. They are all contaminated by the death of original sin. But they no longer observe the Old Testament sacrifices. How do they break the curse?

  • Our God is the God of second chances. As seen above, the Passover festival foreshadowed Christ’s atoning death. It is the only festival of the seven Jewish festivals where God offers a second chance for someone who was unable to participate in the first festival. This shows that He gives is second chances. He is filled with mercy and grace. He wants none to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). If someone tells you that they are not interested in the Gospel, are you giving them another chance? If someone hurts you or offends you, are you giving that person a second chance?

5. Let The Holy Spirit Lead Your Life. Nu. 9:15-23.

  • Let the Holy Spirit guide your life, even in uncertainty. When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people headed out. When the cloud remained over the Tabernacle, the people either stopped to either set up camp or stay in their camp (Nu. 9:17-22; Ex. 13:21-22). The people had no idea when they would go or how long they might stay (Nu. 9:22). In a similar way, the path in life is not always clear to us. Although we don’t have a cloud to guide us today, we have the Holy Spirit. If you want the Holy Spirit to light the path for you, you must read the Word and pray (Ps. 119:105). Are you seeking His guidance through the Word and prayer each day?

  • The symbolism of Christ. The cloud also foreshadowed Christ. The cloud appeared at His transfiguration (Matt. 17:5). It appeared at His ascension (Acts 1:9, 11). It will also appear with His Second Coming (Dan. 7:13; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Rev. 1:7). Like the Jews, no one knows the time when His cloud will come (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32). Are you living each day prepared for His return?

6. The Trumpets Foretell the Second Coming of the Passover Lamp. Nu. 10:1-10.

  • The two trumpets of redemption. Two is a number of confirmation in the Bible. We know God’s promises because of what He demonstrated in the Old and New Testaments. The trumpets were also made of silver. Silver is the metal of redemption in the Bible. The Passover lamb redeems us of our sins. The trumpets were blown during festivals, to make offerings, to gather the people, and during times of war (Nu. 10:10). When the Son of Man comes in the clouds, He will also come with the sound of a trumpet (Rev. 1:10). If the trumpet blasts tomorrow, would you be ready for Him?

  • The “Shofar” – the Rapture. In Ps. 47:5, it is written, “God has ascended with a shout, the Lord, with the sound of a trumpet.” In Is. 26:19, the word “awake” is also associated with the dead rising in a resurrection. The Rapture will also be preceded by the blowing of a loud ram’s horn, a shofar, heard only be believers where we will meet God in a cloud (Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16-17).

  • The silver trumpets -- the second coming of Christ. Moses promised that the blowing of the trumpets would save the people from their enemies (Nu. 10:2). Matthew tells that, at the end of the tribulation, the sun will be darkened and then “they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matt. 24:29-31).

  • The second chance for the Jews. The first Passover occurred during a time of God’s judgment upon Egypt. The Jews could only have judgment “pass over” them with the blood of the lamb. During the second judgment, God will give the Jews a second chance to have judgment “pass over” them. He is faithful to keep His promises to them (Rom. 11:1). He can graft the Jews back onto the vine of Jesus (Rom. 11:24-29). But there is only one statute for Jews and gentiles (Nu. 9:13-14). Thus, to receive a second chance, the remaining Jews must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior to be saved (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10). Sadly, only 144,000 Jews will accept the Jesus and have judgment “pass over” them during the end times (Rev. 7:4-8). Are you warning others what is coming? Do you know the Scriptures well enough to show that Jesus is the Messiah?

  • The “hammered” trumpets. The trumpets were also hammered or beaten when they were made (Nu. 10:1). God “shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:3). The Holy Spirit also purges sin in you through fire and tribulation (1 Cor. 3:13-15; 1 Pet. 1:7). The Jews who are offered the second Passover to escape judgment will also suffer through the end times if they have not accepted Christ before the rapture.

  • The need to eat the Passover in a hurry. The Jews were to eat the Passover dinner the same night (Nu. 9:12). The Jews during the tribulation will also not have a long time to make a decision. Everyone must be vigilant for the Messiah’s return (Rev. 3:3; Matt. 25:1-11).

  • The Trumpets blown by the priests. The sons of Aaron were to blow the trumpets of redemption (Nu. 10:8). This suggests that there will be two witnesses for Christ who will blow the trumpets on earth to be followed by a blast from an angel. The Bible reveals that there will be two witnesses during the end times (Rev. 11:3). These may be the two people who were raptured previously, Elijah and Enoch. Yet, we cannot know for certain.

7. Live Your Life Expecting His Return at Any Moment.

  • Always be ready for Christ. Jesus gives us the parable of the virgins who failed to prepare for the bridegroom. They failed to fill their flasks with oil (symbolizing the Holy Spirit). When the bridegroom came, they were not ready. Jesus said that He never knew them (Matt. 25:1-13). Some might read this story and assume that the second Passover will be the date of the final judgment. But an equally compelling argument can be made for Yom Kippur being the date of the final judgment. God simply does not want us know the date of His final return (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32). If Jesus told us the exact hour of His return, we would put off until that moment purifying our hearts and preparing for His return. God wants us to always be prepared at all times for His return (Matt. 25:13).

  • The Messiah will judge those who refuse to repent and believe in Him. For those who refuse to repent and accept Christ, they will face His judgment (Is. 11:4). When Jesus comes in judgment, the Bible warns: “And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.” (Rev. 9:6). In the end times, God will destroy Hs enemies at the battle in the valley of Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-21). He will also punish those who refuse to submit to Him with eternal death after a trial at the Great White Throne Hall (Rev. 20:11-15). Knowing that your unsaved family members and others face unspeakable judgment here on Earth if they don’t accept the Messiah as Lord and Savior, are you sharing the Gospel with them? (Matt. 28:18-20).