Israel has been rescued from bondage in Egypt and is getting ready for the big task to which God has called them – the conquest and occupation of the land that God has been promising them through their patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph since Genesis 12. So far in Numbers 1-6, God has counted them (to show His faithfulness in making them a great nation and to show them that they have a substantial army), He has assured them of His presence with them, He has provided for their worship as a reminder of the gospel (that this work that He has called them to is not about their glory but about His glory and their good), and He has blessed them. Numbers 7-10 are about their final preparations to set out for conquest. In these chapters, the focus is on consecration, cleansing, setting apart for God’s purpose – of the tabernacle, of the priests, and of the people themselves. Here are the highlights:
- In Numbers 7, the heads of each of the tribes offer gifts to show their support for the official worship in the tabernacle. In this way, each tribe, through their leadership was officially saying, “We’re in.” In Numbers 7:89, we are reminded of Moses’ unique role in Israel as the one to whom God spoke face to face. (See also Exodus 33:11.) Without meeting with God (i.e. regular worship), we cannot carry out His purpose in our life.
- In Numbers 8, the priests are dedicated for their awesome responsibility in mediating between God and His people. Remember that the New Testament teaches that a new priestly order has been established under Christ, our high priest, (the entire book of Hebrews is about this, specifically Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 5:1, 5, and 10, Hebrews 6:20, Hebrews 7:1, 26, Hebrews 8:1-3, and Hebrews 9:7, 11, and 25), with all believers forming a “holy priesthood.” (1 Peter 2:1-12) All believers are priests. All believers can approach God personally. Because of the cross, we no longer need an intermediary to approach God.
- In Numbers 9, the nation of Israel celebrates the passover for the first time out of Egypt. It has now been exactly 1 year since the nation of Israel was delivered from Egypt. This was a big celebration and remembrance of God’s faithfulness to deliver His people. When believers celebrate, it is always a celebration of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Remembering rightly (remembering what God has done for us and who He is) redeems our rejoicing.
- In Numbers 10, the trumpets demonstrate that God’s people are to move out in-step with God and in obedience to His command.