At the beginning of this chapter, the Lord directed that two silver trumpets were to be made, and they were to be used by the priests for conveying certain messages to the children of Israel – such as notifying the people that the cloudy pillar had been lifted, and that it was time to travel. They could also be blown when the leaders wished the people to convene for a meeting outside the Tabernacle; or at other times, when just one trumpet was blown, it was a summons to the leaders of the individual tribes to assemble for a meeting. When necessary, the trumpets were blown to sound an alarm; and they were also sounded on the solemn feast-days and holidays that the Israelites observed.
These trumpets are a picture of the preaching of the Gospel – sounding an alarm to sinners, calling them to repent, proclaiming liberty to the slaves of Satan, and calling together the assembly of the worshipers of God. The Gospel directs and encourages our heavenward journey, and it stirs us up to combat against the world and sin – encouraging us with the assurance of victory. The Gospel focuses the attention of believers upon the sacrifice of Jesus, and it reminds us of the Lord’s presence that is always protecting us. It was very important that the Israelites’ silver trumpets blew the proper sound to convey the proper message to them (verse 7); and it is also necessary for the Gospel-trumpet to give a distinct sound, according to the persons addressed or the purposes intended – whether to convince, humble, console, exhort, reprove, or teach. The sounding of the trumpet of the Gospel is God’s ordinance, and it demands the attention of all to whom it is sent.
After the Israelites had camped for nearly a year at the foot of Mount Sinai, and everything concerning their future worship was established, they began their march to the Promised Land of Canaan. Thus we see how true religion begins with the knowledge of the holy law of God, and humiliation for sin; but we must go on towards perfection, in acquaintance with Christ and His Gospel, and the effectual encouragements and motives to holiness which it proposes.
On the 20th day of the second month of the second year (1490 BC) after the people had left Egypt, the cloudy pillar was lifted up from the Tabernacle. And so the people packed up their tents and followed the Lord’s leading out of the wilderness of Sinai, which had been their camping-place for so many months. Everything that had transpired since Exodus 19, up until this point here in chapter 10, occurred while the people were encamped there at Sinai.
The people took their journey, according to the commandment of the Lord – following the cloudy pillar wherever it led them. Those who are directed by God’s Word and Spirit will steer a steady course through life, even when they seem to be bewildered. They are sure that they cannot lose their God and Guide, and so they do not need to fear losing their way. The Israelites left the wilderness of Sinai and rested in the wilderness of Paran, for all our moves in this world are only from one wilderness to another. We shall never be truly at rest, or truly at home, until we come to heaven; but all will be well there!
Moses invited his relative, Hobab, to accompany the Israelites as they journeyed to Canaan. It seems that this Hobab was the son of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, also known as Reuel or Raguel (Ex. 2:18); and it is likely that when the father went home to his own land (Ex. 18:27), he had left his son Hobab with Moses – who now pleaded with him to go along with them to Canaan. Those who are bound for the heavenly Promised Land should encourage their friends and family members to go with them.
When the Ark of the Covenant would set forward on its journey, Moses would pray to the Lord; and when it would come to a stopping-place to rest for the evening, he would pray again. This teaches us to begin and end every day’s journey and every day’s work with prayer. Moses’ prayer when the Ark set forward was, “Rise up, and let thine enemies be scattered” – and these words are echoed in the 68th Psalm. The mere act of God’s arising is sufficient for the scattering and defeating of those who hate Him and His people. When the Ark rested, Moses pleaded that the Lord’s presence would return and cause His people to rest as well. The safety of the people of God is not in their numbers; rather, it is in His favor, and in His gracious presence resting with them. He goes before them in order to find them resting-places by the way. His promise is that He will never leave them nor forsake them, and their prayers are for the same.
As a son or daughter of the Lord, why should we not feel ourselves just as immediately and continually in the enjoyment of the presence of the Almighty as the thousands of Israel were? “Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh unto you” – those are His own most gracious words. Let us not only endeavor to begin and end the day with God, but also to pass every hour of it as if we were in His company – within the vision of His all-seeing eye, and the hearing of His all-hearing ear. What purity, what holiness, and what happiness will be ours if we prayerfully and consistently make the attempt, like Enoch, to walk with God! Under such guidance and in such companionship, every mile of the journey will be rendered safe, even when it cannot be pleasant.
Lord, we thank You that we have heard and known the joy which is proclaimed in the trumpet-sound of the Gospel of Jesus’ blood and righteousness! We pray that You will continue to be our God forever and ever, and that You will be our Guide as we journey through the wilderness of this world. Amen.
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