“Thus the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt,” (Numbers 9:1 NASB)
There are two topics in Numbers 9: The Pesach and the cloud.
A second chance
The Pesach discussed at length is the “second-chance Pesach.” The Pesach is so important to God that is it the only one of His appointed times (a.k.a., feasts or festivals; see Leviticus 23), where members of the community are given a second chance to participate if they miss out on it the first time due to ritual defilement because of caring for the dead.
God takes full credit for the death of the Firstborn of Egypt. Their death freed the Israelites from slavery. There’s no “devil made do it.” God didn’t party, sing, dance for joy when he took the first-born of Egypt. He is not bragging. He’s simply stating a fact. Egypt are the beloved of God, not the enemy of God.
The people of Israel could not fully keep the other feasts they were being instructed upon, such as Shavuot. There were no first fruits, wheat, barley, etc. to offer but they were able to keep the Pesach at this time.
Don’t concern yourself about the rebellion of the older generation of Israelites but of the teachable moments God has placed in here for His people. Let’s not look at what the Israelites wrongdoing but at God’s righteousness and holiness. God’s actions, deeds, and purpose should be the focus of our attention.
Abraham is noted for his faith in God, he had faith in God and believed in Him whole-heartedly before he was circumcised. Abraham was a friend of God. A friend can tell another friend everything. A person can’t trust their servants or slaves wholeheartedly but they can trust their friend.
This “second chance” Pesach dispensation was for a limited group of people: those who were ritually unclean and unable to keep the first Pesach.
“But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet neglects to observe the Pesach, that person shall then be cut off from his people, for he did not present the offering of the LORD at its appointed time. That man will bear his sin.” (Numbers 9:13 NASB)
If the Children of Israel refused to keep the Pesach at its regular appointed time for a reason other than ritual uncleanness, they did not get the forbearance, there was no do-over. Failure to keep the Pesach with rest of the community was cutting oneself off from Abraham and Abraham’s promises. Excuses such as a football game on TV, misunderstandings with family, work, etc. are not justifications for not keeping the Pesach at its appointed time.
“If an alien sojourns among you and observes the Passover to the LORD, according to the statute of the Passover and according to its ordinance, so he shall do; you shall have one statute, both for the alien and for the native of the land.” (Numbers 9:14 NASB)
People who don’t keep the Pesach because of ignorance, who don’t know their left from right hand, are not judged, not cut off by God. If a sojourner/stranger wants to keep the Pesach, let him in even if his understanding is limited.
God is not the author of confusion. He didn’t write the Torah to dumbfound us but to mold us into the image of His Son.
What is the cloud? What is it covering?
“Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.” (Numbers 9:15–16 NASB)
The cloud covered the Tabernacle, not the entire camp. The cloud covered the mercy seat by day and a fire by night but it’s not a consuming fire, it’s a source of light. Just as we are to be a source of light, but not a burning fire.
“At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they kept the LORD’S charge, according to the command of the LORD through Moses.” (Numbers 9:23 NASB)
When the cloud moved, the children of Israel moved. When the cloud stayed, the children of Israel stayed, regardless of the conditions. Whether it was three days, a month or a year, they stayed when the cloud stayed and they moved when the cloud moved.
God uses the cloud to show the children of Israel and us on a journey, which we will read about more in Numbers 10. The people knew what to do.
God, through the cloud, is guiding them on a journey. When we say to God, “I don’t want to move,” it’s not pleasant. When God moves and we move with Him, we learn so much about Him and love Him more. God is the director.
If you don’t want to be a part of Him, if you reject the promise of Abraham, God will cut you off from the people. Cutting off is not a death sentence. God is actually respecting the person’s choice to leave if they want to leave. The opportunity for repentance is always there. The opportunity to be grafted back in is also there. God doesn’t let go, we let go. God will bring back those who are cut off through His Son.
Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.