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Sabbath School Lessons on Numbers
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 4: Trumpets, Blood, Cloud and Fire *
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!
- 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.)
- Who was killing all of the firstborn? (Read Exodus
12:12. God said He did it.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- Read Luke 22:15-20. Why was Jesus able to change the
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- What does Moses do? (He consults with God.)
- 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.)
- 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!)
- The Fire and Cloud
- 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.)
- What main purpose did this cloud serve? (It was the
- Were the movements of the cloud predictable?
(No. Sometimes it would stay in one place
overnight. Sometimes it would stay a month or
- 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
- Could the people leave the cloud? (Sure.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Do you wish you had a "cloud" in your life that
would allow you to look up and know what to do?
- Do you read your Bible to learn God's will? If
not, why do you think you would have any
interest in a cloud?
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- Next week: From Complaints to Apostasy.
* Copr. 2009, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.