Numbers 8-10 Keep the Passover to the LORD

From Numbers 8-10

04 NumbersIn today’s passage we look at Israel’s second practice of the Passover. The Passover reminded the people of the LORD’s saving act bringing them out of Egypt. In a sense it was their birthday. Their new creation as the LORD’s kingdom. A lot has happened since the first. Israel has stumbled in many ways. But the LORD proved himself faithful and forgiving.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

9 And 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, saying, 2 “Let the people of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time. 3 On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time; according to all its statutes and all its rules you shall keep it.” (Nu 9.1-3)

The people of Israel are to observe the Passover at the time the LORD has set. They are to observe it at twilight. Its an evening sacrifice and meal.

“Extensive instructions were given to Moses regarding the ritual observance of the Passover. The guidelines delineated in Exod 12:1–28 include:

(1) the date and timing of the ritual activity (fourteenth of the first month Abib);

(2) directions for preparing, sacrificing, cooking, and eating the Paschal lamb;

(3) the eating of the accompanying elements of the unleavened bread (to be eaten for seven days) and bitter herbs;

(4) removal of yeast from the household;

(5) matters related to resident aliens; and

(6) instructions for telling the story of God’s great redemption to the children throughout their generations.

In Lev 23:4–8 matters of the sacred assemblies and the first and seventh day Sabbaths are added.” (Cole, R. D. (2000). Numbers (Vol. 3B, p. 156). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)

4 So Moses told the people of Israel that they should keep the Passover. 5 And they kept the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so the people of Israel did. (Nu 9.4-5)

As the LORD commanded so did Moses and then the people obey. This was a wonderful opportunity for parents to tell their children of what the LORD has done (Ex 12.14,24-28).

They remembered the LORD saved the with a mighty hand from Egypt and slavery.

However some among them could not observe the sabbath. They came to Moses for help.

6 And there were certain men who were unclean through touching a dead body, so that they could not keep the Passover on that day, and they came before Moses and Aaron on that day. 7 And those men said to him, “We are unclean through touching a dead body. Why are we kept from bringing the Lord’s offering at its appointed time among the people of Israel?” 8 And Moses said to them, “Wait, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.” (Nu 9.6-8)

Because they touched the dead they were unclean. Normally the unclean are barred from worship and have to go through a purification ceremony before they are acceptable. Moses understands their predicament and they do sincerely want to observe the sabbath. He inquires of the LORD.

9 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If any one of you or of your descendants is unclean through touching a dead body, or is on a long journey, he shall still keep the Passover to the Lord. 11 In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight they shall keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it until the morning, nor break any of its bones; according to all the statute for the Passover they shall keep it. (Nu 9.9-12)

The LORD’s ruling is that people unclean by touching the dead are still allowed to participate in the Passover. Likewise even if one was too far away to return to the tent of meeting or in the future to the temple in Jerusalem, they should observe it where they are.

The Passover is important. All of God’s people are to observe the Passover.

13 But if anyone who is clean and is not on a journey fails to keep the Passover, that person shall be cut off from his people because he did not bring the Lord’s offering at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin. 14 And if a stranger sojourns among you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, according to the statute of the Passover and according to its rule, so shall he do. You shall have one statute, both for the sojourner and for the native.” (Nu 9.13-14)

Israelites who fail to observe the Passover and remember the LORD’s saving acts shall be cut off from the people. Observing the Passover is important. The LORD even makes allowances for Gentiles if they want to as well. The same rules apply.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

When Israel arrived in the promised land they eventually fell into sin and idolatry. The practice of the passover waned. Perhaps in forgetting the LORD and what he had done for them lead to a steady decline of their lifestyles.

There was a small number of good kings who were taught about the LORD and sought to obey him. One such king was Josiah. He found and read the book of the law. The book told him about the Passover. He determined to have his kingdom observe it.

21 And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem. (2 Ki 23.21-23)

Furthermore following the Passover he brought about change in the kingdom.

24 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. (2 Ki 23.24)

Consequently he was given a glowing commendation.

25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. (2 Ki 23.25)

Josiah was unique. Up and until the time of the Kings was written, there were no other kings like him. But after this time another came who surpassed him.

Story of Jesus

Jesus changed the passover forever. Not by remembering it, but by predicting another act of salvation and kingdom making. His blood spilling and death on the cross would save his people from sin, death and inaugurate his kingdom.

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Lk 22.14-16)

Jesus refers to the fulfillment of the Passover. He refers to his suffering and death. The Passover which remembers the LORD’s saving acts in Exodus also points forward to Christ’s suffering and death. Its a shadow of what is to come (cf. Col 2.16-17). Once the Passover is fulfilled he will then be able to ‘eat it’ in the sense that he will remember what has happened. It will be ‘fulfilled in the Kingdom of God’.

Jesus death on the cross has inaugurated the Kingdom of God.

17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Lk 22.17-18)

Jesus says the same again. Pointing forward to when he is able to remember the Passover of his death. He will do this when the kingdom has come.

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Lk 22.19-20)

After quoting a series of Old Testament passages NT Wright says;

“Kingdom and cross are thus woven tightly together in some of the very texts that the gospel writers themselves highlight in their interpretation of the story of Jesus. … When we see the story of Jesus as the climax of the story of Israel, we should not be surprised to discover that the suffering of Israel and of Israel’s supreme representative is to be understood as part of the longer and larger purposes of Israel’s God, in other words, the establishment of his worldwide healing sovereignty.” (p182, N.T., Wright, How God became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels)

Remember what Jesus has done and give thanks.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.