Updated: Jan 26, 2021
Gracious provisions! Arriving at Sinai, the people prepared to observe the Passover. However, some men were unclean through touching a dead body. They asked Moses, “Why are we kept from bringing the Lord's offering at its appointed time among the people of Israel?” (9:7) Moses inquired of the Lord, who provided special instructions for those men so that they might observe the Passover and not be left out. These men found themselves in a difficult situation. Being “unclean” by virtue of touching a dead body, they were outside the camp for seven days and could not participate in corporate worship. God instructed Moses that these men, with their purification completed, were allowed to celebrate the Passover one month later.
I know there is a lot going on in these chapters – the cloud and the tabernacle, the departure from Sinai, the wearisome complaints from the people, the appointing of elders, God’s gracious provision of quail and the plague, and Miriam and Aaron’s opposition to Moses – but I am struck, here, by God’s hearing of the men and his gracious provision. Can’t help but have come to mind James’ instruction: “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:2,3). And the words of Jesus: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7,8). And the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). These men asked, not out of wrong motives but wishing to worship the Lord, and God graciously answered. That’s what he does, and this is what we should do, ask!