Numbers Chapter 9

At this point in the bible, the children of Israel were encamped in the desert of Sinai, near mount Sinai. Moses had received instruction in the mount, regarding laws and statutes for his people. They were commanded to build the tabernacle in such a way that they would be able to carry it with them as they traveled to the promised land. I believe they still continued to receive daily bread from the Lord at this time, in the form of manna from heaven. Once the tabernacle was built and dedicated to the Lord, He accepted it and spoke with Moses from the mercy seat. There were pretty constant reminders that the Lord was their God, who had freed them from bondage and saved them both from physical harm and from the spiritual harm that would have been caused if they had continued to be a people of the world. This chapter begins:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,
2 Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.
3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.
4 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.
5 And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.

The Israelites were reminded that this was now the time to keep the Passover. They had already been commanded to remember to keep the Passover all their days, when the Lord first instituted it in the land of Egypt. So, the children of Israel celebrated the Passover, just as they had been commanded.

6 And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day:
7 And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel?
8 And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.

There were men who did not know what to do, because they were no worthy to keep the passover. They had touched a dead body, which, as the Israelites had been taught, made them unclean or defiled. They went to their priesthood leaders, Moses and Aaron, to learn what should be done. Moses did not know what to do, so he took the issue to the Lord. It is good to have this example of the priesthood line of authority and how to receive revelation on important matters like this. We have modern revelation about this, found in Doctrine and Covenants 102:23, which reads, “In case of difficulty respecting doctrine or principle, if there is not a sufficiency written to make the case clear to the minds of the council, the president may inquire and obtain the mind of the Lord by revelation.”

9 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
10 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the Lord.
11 The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.
13 But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.
14 And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the Lord; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.

Moses was told, that no matter if he was defiled by the dead or journeying, any man of Israel, he was to keep the passover. All the rites and ordinances of the passover were to be kept strictly as they had been commanded. This was the Lord’s answer to their question, and it was kept as doctrine from that time, for all those who would live the law of Moses. By this, I think that being defiled by the dead, was not so serious as some other things that caused uncleanliness in that day. Just as certain sins could be considered lesser sins, today. Like the need to keep the passover, we have a need to partake of the sacrament each week. No one is perfect though, and we are to partake of it worthily. Just as they were told that they were still to participate in the passover, our imperfections and lesser sins should not keep us from partaking of the sacrament. There are things that would cause us to be unworthy to partake of the sacrament. These are the kinds of things that a priesthood leader, such as a Bishop, would need to help us with. Otherwise, the desire to keep the commandment to partake, and the added desire to return to the Lord and renew our covenants, causes us to be worthy to partake of it.

Any man who was able and chose not to keep the passover, would be cut off from the people for his disobedience to the commandment of the Lord. Disobedience to this is the greater sin, I think. To keep the passover, was a commandment, just as remaining worthy was a commandment. However, making the choice to not keep the passover, was worthy of separation from the righteous people and the presence of the Lord. Also, any stranger with them, was to keep the passover along with the Israelites.

15 And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.
16 So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
17 And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.
18 At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.
19 And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not.
20 And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed.
21 And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.
22 Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.
23 At the commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed: they kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.

When the tabernacle was raised, the cloud of the Lord covered the tent. When the night came, there was the fire of the Lord upon it. The fire remained until morning, when it was covered by cloud. The Israelites were going to be led by the same ways, as they had been led out of Egypt. They were to remain where they were until the cloud lifted. Then they were to travel until they came to the cloud again. They were to camp were ever the cloud was. If the cloud did not raise from the tabernacle, they were to stay where they were until it did, no matter how short or long a period of time that was. If, on any given morning, the cloud raised, they were to continue on their journey.

I am filled with wonder at just how constant the reminder of the Lord’s hand in their life was for these people. They were entirely dependent upon Him, for food, for direction, for guidance and so much more. They were in a desert, far from the things that would have provided others, the necessities of life. And even greater, they had the presence of the Lord with them, with a physical manifestation resting upon the tabernacle. The presence of the Lord is not as obvious in our own lives, but He is always there for us as well. The Lord provides for us in all ways, just as he did for the Israelites. We can come to recognize these same blessings in our lives, as we live according to his commandments. When we are obedient, God has promised that we can each have the spirit of God, as a companion in our lives. The Spirit will be our cloud and fire. The Spirit will protect, provide, direct and guide each of us personally, according to our faithfulness. What an awesome blessing this is.


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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.


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