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USE IN FAMILY WORSHIP.
NUMBERS, X. 11-13, 29–32.
11 And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.
12 And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.
13 And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
29 And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law, We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with
us, and we will do thee good : for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.
30 And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred.
31 And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes. 3
The Israelites leave Sinai.
32 And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.
THESE passages from the tenth chapter of the book of Numbers bring the children of Israel before our view at a most important and remarkable moment in their history. They had been about a year at Mount Sinai, and 'the law' (both moral and ceremonial) had now been given. By the concluding ordinance' Aaron and his sons had been provided with the silver trumpets which they would need in order to give the necessary signals, whether in peace or war, to the people in their journeyings. The great festival of the Passover had been duly kept at the beginning of the second year after their leaving Egypt, as a preparation for their journey to Canaan, and as a lesson to the Church for ever that the reception of that holy sacrament of which the Passover was a shadow, is our best preparation for any great work which we commence, and especially when we have to march forward to meet danger and death.
And now the cloud was removed, which had so long rested upon the camp, and (after the tabernacle was set up) chiefly on that sacred work of Moses, made after the pattern shown him in the Mount. The signal was thus given for the twelve tribes of Israel to follow the ark as it led them forward to the The Invitation to Hobab.
1 Num. x. 1-10.
land of Canaan. They are a type of the Christian Church, led onwards across the wilderness of this world to the heavenly inheritance by Christ Who is the true Ark, the Leader as well as Commander of His people. And we may reflect this morning on the invitation which Moses gave to Hobab (the word means 'Beloved,' and he was probably Moses' brother-in-law), to join the Israelites on their journey and share their blessings. We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you; come thou with us, and we will do thee good : for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.'
We should observe the information thus given to Hobab. Moses tells him that the Israelites were on a journey, and that the place to which they were going was promised to them as a gift; and that besides that promise, 'The Lord had spoken good concerning Israel, an expression which reminds us of the Psalmist's word, “Very excellent things are spoken of thee, thou city of God.'1 No one can read these words of Moses without perceiving that he lived and went about his daily work with the distinct realization of the fact that he was a pilgrim to Canaan, with great and precious promises to cheer him on his way, and to be fulfilled (if he did not forfeit them) at its close.
And here we see what should be a Christian's
1 Ps. lxxxvii. 2.
Life a Pilgrimage.
habitual thought as to his work and business in life, and what should be also his information to others as to his character and calling. We, too, are pilgrims to Canaan, with great and precious promises to cheer us on our way, and to be completely fulfilled (if we do not forfeit them), not only throughout our journey, but also and chiefly at its close. We, too, may give this information to those who are not Christians, if we meet with them. Yes, and to those who are Christians only in name, with little perception of what is meant by being a Christian. •We are journeying to the place, whereof the Lord hath said, I will give it you. How happy is this faith! How happy to live in this distinct recognition of our true character and our glorious hopes! How would this recollection keep us from making this world our home, from being overmuch grieved at its sorrows, or overmuch elated by its joys; and how would it make us stedfast in our purpose of moving onward, as the one great business of life, from which we must neither be frightened by ridicule, nor drawn aside by temptation. Every night, we should have the happy thought that another stage of the journey is over, and every morning, that we are marching onward to the happy end.
And then observe Moses' invitation to his relative: 'Come thou with us, and we will do thee good.' Such should be our persuasion to those
The Influence of Christians. 5 who may question us or try to hinder us. 'Do not think (we may say) of drawing us aside from our purpose, but rather, “Come thou with us, and we will do thee good.” We are privileged thus to invite you, and thus to assure you that you may share the promises which cheer and animate us from day to day.' "The Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.' Hobab was unwilling at the time to join the hosts of Israel on their way to Canaan ; but there is reason to think that he afterwards thought better of his true interest, and joined himself to the people of God. And thus if we are ourselves consistent as pilgrims to the heavenly Zion, and if we use our influence rightly (not in an ostentatious and intrusive manner, but with gentle and persuasive concern for the true welfare of all around us), we may, by God's blessing, overcome their prejudices and indifference to religion ; and lead them to turn their faces towards the land of promise, and no longer linger in the wilderness of this evil and unsatisfying world.