Introduction: Would you like to be more confident? Confident that
you will do well in life. Confident that God is with you. Confident
that you have a right understanding of God and His role in your
life? Years ago, I spoke with a Christian who told me that when he
was a young man he wanted to do God’s will. Problem was that God
never showed up to tell him what to do. Do you sometimes feel like
that? If so, let’s plunge into our study of Numbers to see how God
interacted with His people then!

  1. Passover

    1. Read Numbers 9:1-3. God says to celebrate Passover. What
      was Passover about? (Exodus 12 recounts how the Jews,
      while they were still in Egypt, sacrificed a lamb, and
      put its blood on the top and side of the doorframes of
      their homes. As a result of doing this, they protected
      their first born from being killed that night.)

      1. Who was killing all of the firstborn? (Read Exodus
        12:12. God said He did it.)

      2. Why should we, the followers of God, have to be
        protected from God? Can’t God tell His people from
        the Egyptians? (It seems odd, doesn’t it? The
        illogic of this suggests that God was making a point
        to His people. A point which suggests they have some
        (small) role in being delivered.)

      3. Why not just draw a star on the door? Blood is
        messy. (God was beginning to show these slaves His
        plan for eradicating sin and for saving them from

      4. What does this say about God? (He is not to be
        trifled with. He is looking out for His followers,
        but it is dangerous business not to obey Him.)

    2. Read Luke 22:15-20. Why was Jesus able to change the

      1. How were Jesus’ actions consistent with the
        Passover? (God’s original purpose in setting up the
        Passover was to point to Jesus as the ultimate
        fulfillment of the “lamb” whose death saves us from
        death for disobedience.)

      2. Does this help to give you confidence that
        Christianity is the “correct” religion? (No world
        religion which believes in the inspiration of the
        Old Testament sacrifices a lamb today for the
        forgiveness of sins. That seems odd and
        inconsistent. Only Christianity offers a logical
        answer. It teaches that Jesus was the fulfillment of
        the sacrificial system and says “This is the way we
        still obtain forgiveness of sin in accord with the
        teaching of God.)

      3. Is there still a logical problem? Passover presented
        a threat to the first born. We believe sin presents
        a threat to everyone regardless of birth order.
        (Read Colossians 1:15. It seems odd that only the
        firstborn were in peril then. The mystery of the
        symbolism becomes clear when we see that Jesus is
        the “firstborn” of all creation. God set up Passover
        with Jesus’ sacrifice clearly in mind. God the
        Father “lost” His firstborn Son at the cross to sin.
        Jesus’ victory over sin and death, if we accept it,
        gives us victory over sin and death.)

    3. Read Numbers 9:6-8. What is the problem? (We learned from
      Numbers 5 that ceremonially unclean people should be
      outside the camp. To be ceremonially unclean was
      inconsistent with worship.)

      1. What does Moses do? (He consults with God.)

        1. What lesson does this teach us when we run into
          a theological problem? (God’s word is the
          Bible. We need to study our Bible and ask for
          the leading of God’s Spirit.)

    4. Read Numbers 9:9-10. Does God’s decision make sense to
      you? If so, why? (Passover pointed to God’s ultimate
      solution to the sin problem. God would die for us. It
      makes logical sense to bring in all the sinners you can
      find! Unclean? Welcome to this ceremony!)

  2. The Fire and Cloud

    1. Read Numbers 9:15-22. Have you ever said “I feel like I
      have a black cloud over me?” Is that a good or bad
      thing? (Generally, we think of it as a bad thing.)

      1. What main purpose did this cloud serve? (It was the
        tour guide!)

        1. Were the movements of the cloud predictable?
          (No. Sometimes it would stay in one place
          overnight. Sometimes it would stay a month or
          a year.)

        2. Remember we started out talking about
          confidence, especially with regard to God’s
          role in our life. What does this cloud teach
          us about how God’s leadership works in our

          1. Could the people leave the cloud? (Sure.)

            1. Why would you want to leave the
              cloud? (It was going through the
              desert – a terrible place. It was
              unpredictable. It did not ask the
              people about their preferred time

          2. What would happen to the people if they
            decided to forget about following the
            cloud? (The fire meant they could see at
            night. They did not have to stumble over
            rocks. The desert is cold at night. Fire
            provides warmth. During the day the shade
            of the cloud made the temperature much
            more bearable. It would not be pleasant to
            leave the cloud.)

      2. Let’s assume you were a couple of strangers just
        hanging around an oasis and you saw this vast horde
        of people (perhaps a million) following a cloud.
        What would you think? (Now you get an idea of why
        pagans do not understand Christians.)

      3. Do you wish you had a “cloud” in your life that
        would allow you to look up and know what to do?

        1. Do you read your Bible to learn God’s will? If
          not, why do you think you would have any
          interest in a cloud?

        2. How specific was the cloud’s information about
          life? (The cloud did not control all aspects of
          life. God gave Moses rules for much of life.
          The cloud gave general direction and timing.)

        3. Is it significant that the cloud gave general
          information? Do most people get “cloud”
          instructions from God – He gives us the general
          direction and leaves the details to us?

  3. Trumpets

    1. Numbers 10 reveals that in addition to the cloud, God put
      in place a “signaling” system to guide the orderly
      movement of His people. It was a cloud/trumpet, God/human
      leadership partnership.

    2. Let’s look at one aspect of the trumpets in more detail.
      Read Numbers 10:8-9. Would God’s people have a cloud to
      determine when they should go into battle? (It is not
      mentioned here.)

      1. Does this text seem to indicate that God is even
        aware of the specific battle? (We can say that God
        generally authorized the battle because it was on
        the Israelites’ “own land” and it was against an
        oppressor. But, the way this is written it appears
        God is not part of the original attack.)

      2. What does God promise to do for His people when they
        get into a battle on their own? (Give God a “toot”
        and He will rescue you.)

      3. Does this apply to us today? Let’s say that you are
        in some sort of problem. You cannot say God led you
        into it, perhaps you led yourself into it. Does God
        invite us to “call” Him? To let Him know you could
        use some help? (I love this picture. God invites us
        to send Him a “blast.” To send a distress signal
        that you could use some help right about now.)

    3. Friend, the Passover gives us confidence that Jesus is
      the promised Savior. He is the only One who fulfills the
      Old Testament symbolism. He is the only One who makes
      the logic of the sacrificial system complete. Looking at
      God’s “cloud” system gives us confidence that God wants
      to give direction to our life. He may not be micro-managing your life, but He wants to lead. Best, when we
      get into a problem, we can know He is just a “trumpet
      blast” away. How about making God the Lord of your life

  4. Next week: From Complaints to Apostasy.