Page images
PDF
EPUB

XI.]
AND BLESSINGS.

135 “sword.-Five of you shall chase an hundred, and an “hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight."

What could have been more cheering to the Israelites than promises like these? They were going to take possession of a country filled with inhabitants all hostile to them, and from the disproportion of their numbers, without any human prospect of being able to conquer them; but all such difficulties were smoothed by these assurances of support from Heaven.

“If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. viii. 31.)

“But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do “all these commandments”;

“I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over "you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall

consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart; and ye “shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.”

“And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be “ slain before your enemies : they that hate you

shall reign over you;

and
ye

shall flee when none pursueth you.”
“ And if

ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, “then I will punish you seven times more for your sins."

“Seven" is frequently mentioned in Scripture, for an unlimited number. In proportion to the magnitude of the offence, was to be the punishment inflicted ; and awful indeed were the judgments denounced upon such as should persist, after such warnings, in rebelling against the Lord and disobeying his commands.

It is impossible to close this book without feelings of thankfulness that it has been granted to us to see the fulfilment of all these types and ordinances, and to live under a dispensation when such burdensome rites and ceremonies, which St. Paul tells us, "neither our fathers,' nor they were able to bear,” (Acts xv. 10.) have given place to that service of freedom which it is the blessing of every Christian to enjoy.

“ Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to

[ocr errors]

136

THE LAW A SHADOW.

[CH. Ix.].

[ocr errors]

“every one that believeth.” (Rom.x, 4.) “His yoke is easy “ and his burden is light.”(Matt. xi. 30.).

The object of the ceremonial law was fulfilled when Christ appeared on earth, and enabled his followers to obtain that righteousness, which the law never could effect, for being only "a shadow of good things to come, and not the very

image of the things,” it could“ never with those sacri“fices which they offered year by year continually make “the comers thereunto perfect.” - For it is not possible *" that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away “ sins.''(Heb x. 1.)

“God hath no pleasure in burnt offerings and sacri“ fice.”(Heb. x. 4, 6,) To obey is better than sacrifice " and to hearken than the fat of rams.”(1 Sam. xv. 22.)

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him “from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”(Rom. x.9.)

May we therefore, who are enabled to “enter into the “ holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way “which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that “is to say, his flesh ; and having an high priest over the “ house of God; may we draw near with a true heart “full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from

an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."(Heb. x. 19. 22.)

CHAPTER X.

Numbering of the tribes-Levites -Nazarites-Dedication of the tabernacle-Passover kept- Seventy elders appointed.- Quails sent-Sedition of Miriam-Leprosy

NUMBERS 1.-VIII.

This book is called Numbers, from its containing the several enumerations or numberings of the people.

It was desirable that a distinction should be made of different tribes or families of the Israelites, that every one might know and transmit to posterity a distinct account of his genealogy, in order to prove the particular tribe from which the Messiah was to spring.

The tribe of Levi alone was to be excluded in the numbering, being set apart for the service of the Lord, received by him instead of the first born who, as was mentioned before, were dedicated to him at the Institution of the Passover.(Ex. xiii. 2.) They were to have the charge of all things pertaining to the tabernacle : they were “ to bear “it, to minister unto it, and to encamp round about it."

“And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites “shall take it down; And when the tabernacle is to be

pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger “that cometh nigh shall be put to death.”

The“ stranger" meaning bere, any Israelite not of the tribe of Levi.

The Israelites being all numbered and formed into com panies, the next order given was respecting their encamp

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

ments and their marches. It may easily be supposed that great order and method was requisite to arrange so vast a multitude in such a way as to cause no confusion in their march. Accordingly each tribe was to be distinguished by a particular standard ; and in this manner they proceeded, blessed by a visible token of God's presence, protected by his omnipotent arm, and receiving their daily sustenance direct from Heaven.

Several precepts are delivered in these chapters, some of which are merely repetitions or explanations of the foregoing institutions, while others relate to particular matters, such as the directions given to the tribe of Levi, and the law of the Nazarites. All those were called Nazarites, who voluntarily dedicated themselves by a vow to the service of the Lord. They were peculiarly distinguished from the rest by conforming to certain rules of abstinence laid down for that peculiar sect.

After specifying certain meats and drinks from which they were to abstain, it is said, “ All the days of the

vow of his separation, there shall no razor come upon “ his head ; until the days be fulfilled in the which he sep“arateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and “ shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.

This separation, or “Nazariteship," as it is called in the margin, might last for a whole life, or only for a short period. Samson, we are told, was to be a “ Nazarite unto * God from the womb to the day of his death,” (Judges xiii. 7.) while in the Acts we read of four men who having

a vow on themselves,” accompanied St. Paul into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, (Acts xxi. 23, 26.) which lasted only seven days.

The dedication of the temple occupies the whole of the seventh chapter, in which are described the several offerings brought by the princes, in celebration of the event. These were probably the heads of the different tribes , they are elsewere called “ elders.” We have had occasion before to allude to this title, when it was applied to the chief domestic of a family ; here it implies those who as chiefs

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THE PASSOVER.

x.]

139 of each tribe had authority over the rest, an arrangement which had existed for some time previous to the delivery of the law, as you may remember reading in the fourth Chapter of Exodus, when it is said “Moses gathered to

gether all the elders of the children of Israel”; in the New Testament the word has more extended signification, sometimes implying the chief magistrates, as in Matt. xxi, 23; at others, the pastors or Bishops of the church, as in Acts xiv, 23. and Titus i, 5, 7.

The ceremony of the dedication was succeeded by the consecration of the Levites, Moses receiving particular directions on the subject, from the voice of God himself.

NUMBERS IX.

A year having now elapsed since the Israelites had quitted Egypt, the appointed season was arrived, when the celebration of the passover was to take place. Among the laws detailed in Leviticus, there were several laid down respecting those obstacles, which would render a man unclean, and thus prevent him from joining in the ceremonies enjoined. One of these obstacles now occurred. There were certain men who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that is, they had come in contact with it, having probably assisted at the funeral rites. They were by this circumstance ren dered unclean for seven days, and consequently prevented from partaking of the feast. They therefore appealed to Moses to be instructed respecting the manner in which they were to keep it, being unwilling to suppose that for such a reason they were to neglect it altogether.

“ And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear “what the Lord will command concerning you.”

He did not venture of his own accord to settle such an important business, but as was his usual custom in such matters, he sought assistance from God, who accordingly gave him full directions how to act. None were to be excluded altogether from the feast; but those who were pre

« PreviousContinue »