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10 The Eternal One continued, instructing Moses.
In the first two months of the second year, the nation is organized for religious service, for war, for civil order, and for travel. On the first day of the first month, construction of the congregation tent is completed and dedication of the altar and the priests begins. On the eighth day, the dedication and ordination of the priests is completed. On the twelfth day, the dedication of the altar is completed, the Levites are appointed, and normal services begin. On the fourteenth day, the Passover is celebrated.
In the second month, the census of the men over 20 years of age is started. On the fourteenth day, a second Passover is celebrated for those who were impure from the first celebration. Finally, on the twentieth day, all the Israelites begin their travels to Canaan.
Eternal One (to Moses): 2 To more easily get the people’s attention and to summon the people and notify the people that they should break camp, make yourself two trumpets out of fine, hammered silver. 3 When you blow both trumpets, everyone should gather with you in front of the congregation tent; 4 but if you blow only one of the trumpets, then only the leaders, the heads of the divisions, need to gather with you. 5-6 You can also use them to sound an alarm. Make the alarm sound when it’s time to move on. When you need to break camp, one alarm will indicate that the people on the east side should depart; the second will be the sign for those on the south side of camp to depart. 7 But when you only want to gather the people together (not to break camp), simply blow the normal sound.
There are several patterns of trumpet sounds for various purposes; they are distinguished by the length of the blast and the amount of separation between sounds.
8 Aaron’s people, the priests, shall blow them; this is a decree of peace for all generations to come. 9 There will be times, when you’re living in the land I’ve promised to you, that you’ll need to fight against people who oppress you. Use the trumpets to sound an alarm. Your God, the Eternal, will remember you, and you will be saved from such enemies. 10 Also use the trumpets in happy times. Blow them when you celebrate festivals and make sacrifices. On days of joy, feasting and new moons, sound the trumpets as you offer your burnt offerings and sacrifices of peace offerings. Again, they will be a reminder to your God. I am the Eternal One, your True God.
11 When the cloud finally rose up (on the twentieth day of the second month of the second year) from over the congregation tent that housed the terms of the covenant, 12 the Israelites set out from the Sinai Wilderness until the cloud indicated they should stop in the Paran Wilderness. 13 This was the first time they were organized and traveled in this manner—as the Eternal had instructed through Moses.
14 First the Judahite division left, following their banner. Judah’s tribal troops were led by Nahshon, Amminadab’s son. 15 The Issachar tribal troops were led by Nethanel, Zuar’s son; 16 and Helon’s son, Eliab, led the Zebulunite tribal troops.
17 At that point, the tent was properly disassembled and carried out by the Gershonites and Merarites.
18 They were followed by the Reubenite division, following their banner. Reuben’s tribal troops were led by Shedeur’s son, Elizur. 19 The Simeon tribe’s troops were led by Shelumiel, Zurishaddai’s son; 20 and the Gadite tribal army followed the direction of Eliasaph, son of Deuel.
21 Next to leave were the Kohathites, who carried the holy things as instructed. The tent would be set up again before they arrived by the Gershonites and Merarites.
22 Then the Ephraimite division departed under their banner. Ephraim’s tribal troops were led by Elishama (Ammihud’s son). 23 The Manassehite tribal troops were led by Gamaliel, son of Pedahzur; 24 and Benjamin’s tribal troops were led by Gideoni’s son, Abidan.
25 Finally, at the rear came the Danite division following their banner. Dan’s tribal troops were led by Ahiezer, Ammishaddai’s son. 26 The Asherite tribal troops went under the leadership of Pagiel, Ochran’s son; 27 and the Naphtali tribal troops under Enan’s son, Ahira. 28 This is the order in which the Israelites broke camp and journeyed through the wilderness.
29 When they were just about to depart, Moses took aside Hobab (son of Reuel, Moses’ father-in-law), his Midianite brother-in-law.
Moses: Why don’t you come with us? We are going to the place that the Eternal promised to give to us. We’ll treat you well in the land. After all, the Eternal said that things will be good for Israel.
Hobab: 30 No, thanks. I’m going to head back home, to my own place and to my kin.
Moses: 31 Please don’t leave us. You know where it’s best to camp out here in the wilderness, and we could certainly benefit from your watching out for us. 32 It’ll work out well for you! The Eternal has promised good things for us, and we’ll be sure that you have a share in them too.
33 So off they went, and they traveled for three days after leaving the Eternal’s mountain, known as Sinai or Horeb. At the very front of the traveling company was the precious box containing the terms of Israel’s agreement with their God—namely, the chest containing their covenant with the Eternal to seek out a good resting place. 34 God’s cloud led them on by day when they broke camp and set out. 35 When the chest began to move, Moses would always say,
Moses: Eternal One, arise! Get up, and may Your enemies scatter before You, Your opponents flee from Your presence.
36 And when the chest settled down again, Moses would say,
Moses: O Eternal One, turn back ten thousand to Israel’s numbers.[a]
The people of God are being instructed by Moses, but they are being led by God Himself. They can see the cloud of God before them and hear the blowing of trumpets telling them to move, but at the very front of their column is the chest of the covenant. God’s presence and His promises go before them as they wander through this wilderness. One of the great truths of Scripture is that God may send His people out, but they are never alone and He is ever before them. In the same way the Hebrews have led their sheep rather than driving them, God leads His people rather than forcing them to go first into the unknown or into battle.
11 The people griped about life in the wilderness, how hard they felt things were for them, and these evil complaints came up to the ears of the Eternal One. He was furious about this ingratitude, faithlessness, and lack of vision. His anger was kindled, and His fire raged among them and devoured some of the camp’s perimeter. 2 The people of Israel cried out and ran to Moses and begged him to do something! Moses did. He prayed to the Eternal One, and the flames settled down. 3 On account of this incident of the burning fire from the Eternal, the place where it happened is called Taberah, which means “burning.”
4 A contingent of Israelites had a strong craving for different food, and the Israelites started complaining again.
Israelites: Who will give us meat to eat? 5 Remember in Egypt when we could eat whatever amount of fish we wanted, or even the abundant cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But this, this can hardly be called food at all! 6 Our appetites have dried up. All we ever have to look at is manna, manna, manna.
7-9 The thing about the manna is this: It is like coriander seed but the golden color of gum resin, falling on the camp with the morning dew. The people could just walk around and pick it up. After grinding it with millstones to a kind of flour or crushing it with a mortar, they boiled it in a pot and then formed it into patties. These tasted something like cake prepared with oil, a kind of sweet bread. 10 Well, Moses overheard the people in all the clans moaning at the door of their tents about the manna. The Eternal grew really angry again, and Moses thought the whole situation was wrong.
Moses (to the Lord): 11 Why are You so hard on me? I am your devoted servant. Why don’t You look on me with affection? Why do I have the great burden of these spiteful people? 12 Did I conceive them, bear them, and give birth to them? Why should You tell me to carry them—as a nanny does some suckling infant—into the land that You swore to their ancestors? 13 And now, where am I supposed to find meat to feed this crowd crying out that I give them food to eat? 14 I simply cannot keep carrying them along. They are way too heavy. 15 If You plan to treat me like this, then just kill me now. If You care about me at all, just put me out of my misery so I do not have to live out this distress.
Eternal One (to Moses): 16 Listen, just do this for Me. Get 70 community elders, ones whom you know are real leaders among the people, and bring them into the congregation tent where we meet. Tell them to stand with you there. 17 I will then descend among you. I will speak with you, and withdraw some of My Spirit from you and place it on them so that they can help you with the burden of this people. Then you won’t have to carry it all alone. 18 Then tell the people this: “Purify yourselves for what will happen tomorrow. You will eat meat because you have cried to Me, saying, ‘If only someone would give us meat to eat! We were content back in Egypt.’ The Eternal will indeed give you meat, and you shall eat it. 19 You’ll be eating meat not just one day, or two or five or ten or twenty, 20 but every single day for an entire month. Meat, meat, and more meat. You’ll eat meat until it comes out of your noses and you can’t stand it anymore. For you’ve rejected Me, who is with you, by asking why you left Egypt.”
Moses: 21 There are 600,000 people walking with me here. You say that You’re going to give them heaps of meat for an entire month? Think of the logistics! 22 Are there really enough sheep and cattle traveling with us to slaughter, or enough fish in the sea for that matter, to provide such a supply?
Eternal One: 23 Do you doubt Me? Do you question My power, that I can do what I’ve said? Just watch—you’ll see what will happen.
Later Christians will try to use this chapter to predict exactly when Jesus will come and how the world will end. But to do that is to do exactly the opposite of what Jesus intends as He speaks these words. He makes it very clear that He doesn’t want anyone to use this description of signs to predict an exact time and date for His coming; even He Himself doesn’t know that time and date, and no one else needs to know either. Instead, the purpose is to warn them to stay ready and alert.
14 The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were two days away. The Jewish leaders—the chief priests and the scribes—gathered to discuss how they might secretly arrest Jesus and kill Him.
Jewish Leaders: 2 We can’t do it during the festivals. It might create an uproar.
3 While Jesus was eating dinner in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came into the house carrying an alabaster flask filled with a precious, sweet-smelling ointment made from spikenard. She came to Jesus, broke the jar, and gently poured out the perfume onto His head.
4 Some of those around the table were troubled by this and grumbled to each other.
Dinner Guests: Why did she waste this precious ointment? 5 We could have sold this ointment for almost a year’s wages,[a] and the money could have gone to the poor!
Their private concerns turned to public criticism against her.
Jesus: 6 Leave her alone. Why are you attacking her? She has done a good thing. 7 The poor will always be with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you want. But I won’t always be with you. 8 She has done what she could for Me—she has come to anoint My body and prepare it for burial. 9 Believe Me when I tell you that this act of hers will be told in her honor as long as there are people who tell the good news.
The disciples can’t see any value in pouring so much perfume on Jesus. It is obviously a waste. The woman is demonstrating her love for Him with an abandon and an emotional commitment that few people have ever shown, and He appreciates her love and her faith. To Him, it is more than a gesture; it is a practical preparation for His imminent death and burial. No one else there can see what use her action is; but to Jesus, it is incredibly precious—so much so that He promises to make sure her action is never forgotten.
10 It was after this that Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to meet the chief priests with the intention of betraying Jesus to them. 11 When they heard what he proposed, they were delighted and promised him money. So from that time on, Judas thought and waited and sought an opportunity to betray Jesus.
12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the customary day when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, His disciples wondered where they would celebrate the feast.
Disciples: Where do You want us to go and make preparations for You to eat the Passover meal?
13 So again He sent two of His disciples ahead and told them to watch for a man carrying a jar of water.
Jesus: Follow that man; 14 and wherever he goes in, say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks, ‘Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with My disciples?’” 15 He will take you upstairs and show you a large room furnished and ready. Make our preparations there.
16 So the two left and went into the city. All was as Jesus had told them, and they prepared the meal in the upper room. 17 That evening Jesus and the twelve arrived and went into the upper room; 18 and each reclined around the table, leaning upon an elbow as he ate.
Jesus: I tell you in absolute sincerity, one of you eating with Me tonight is going to betray Me.
19 The twelve were upset. They looked around at each other.
Disciples (one by one): Lord, it’s not I, is it?
Jesus: 20 It is one of you, the twelve—one of you who is dipping your bread in the same dish that I am.
21 The Son of Man goes to His fate. That has already been predicted in the Scriptures. But still, it will be terrible for the one who betrays Him. It would have been better for him if he had never been born.
One of the most difficult episodes in King David’s life was his affair with Bathsheba and all that resulted from it. Psalm 51 reflects the emotions he felt after Nathan confronted him with stealing Bathsheba and murdering her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11–12).
At one time or another, all people experience the painful consequences of sin. Psalm 51 has been a comfort and a help to millions who have prayed these words as their own. It invites all who are broken to come before God and lean upon His compassion. It teaches that we need not only to be forgiven for the wrong we have done, but we also need to be cleansed of its effects on us. Ultimately, it helps us recognize that if we are to be healed, it is the work of God to create in us a heart that is clean and a spirit that is strong.
1 Look on me with a heart of mercy, O God,
according to Your generous love.
According to Your great compassion,
wipe out every consequence of my shameful crimes.
2 Thoroughly wash me, inside and out, of all my crooked deeds.
Cleanse me from my sins.
3 For I am fully aware of all I have done wrong,
and my guilt is there, staring me in the face.
4 It was against You, only You, that I sinned,
for I have done what You say is wrong, right before Your eyes.
So when You speak, You are in the right.
When You judge, Your judgments are pure and true.[a]
5 For I was guilty from the day I was born,
a sinner from the time my mother became pregnant with me.
6 But still, You long to enthrone truth throughout my being;
in unseen places deep within me, You show me wisdom.
7 Cleanse me of my wickedness with hyssop, and I will be clean.
If You wash me, I will be whiter than snow.
8 Help me hear joy and happiness as my accompaniment,
so my bones, which You have broken, will dance in delight instead.
9 Cover Your face so You will not see my sins,
and erase my guilt from the record.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God;
restore within me a sense of being brand new.
11 Do not throw me far away from Your presence,
and do not remove Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You;
let Your willing Spirit sustain me.
13 If You do, I promise to teach rebels Your ways
and help sinners find their way back to You.
14 Free me from the guilt of murder, of shedding a man’s blood,
O God who saves me.
Now my tongue, which was used to destroy, will be used to sing with deep delight of how right and just You are.
15 O Lord, pry open my lips
that this mouth will sing joyfully of Your greatness.
16 I would surrender my dearest possessions or destroy all that I prize to prove my regret,
but You don’t take pleasure in sacrifices or burnt offerings.
17 What sacrifice I can offer You is my broken spirit
because a broken spirit, O God,
a heart that honestly regrets the past,
You won’t detest.
18 Be good to Zion; grant her Your favor.
Make Jerusalem’s walls steady and strong.
19 Then there will be sacrifices made,
burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings,
With right motives that will delight You.
And costly young bulls will be offered up to Your altar, only the best.
31 Wisdom flows from the mouths of those who do right,
but tongues that twist the truth will be cut out.
32 The lips of the right-living understand what is proper,
but the mouths of wrongdoers twist and pervert the truth.