Blowing the Silver Trumpets

Numbers 10:1‑10  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Read Numb. 10:1-101And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God. (Numbers 10:1‑10)
What is it that we need first and most if the life that lies ahead of us, if the Lord will, is to be fruitful in the things that are pleasing to God? How are we to fulfill the relationships of life, and in them adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things? What is it that lies at the basis of all spiritual life and service, and without which we can only fail in every sphere of life? With the exercises that come to most of us as we face the future, we may well ask such questions as these; and if we do we shall find that there is but one answer to them, and it is this: What is needed first and most and continuously, and without which we know nothing of the art of Christian living, is THE FULL AND UNRESERVED ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT WE BELONG TO GOD. Without this we build without a foundation, we waste our energies, and live unreal and useless lives. Now if we belong to God, His claims are paramount; since He is God, that must be so, but the fact that He has redeemed us gives Him a double title; and for our blessing as well as for His glory we must own His claim and obey the word, "YIELD YOURSELVES TO GOD."
This great and indispensable truth is remarkably illustrated for us in the use of the silver trumpets. They figured largely in the everyday life of Israel, for never a day passed that they did not make their appeal to that people. They were blown on God's behalf for people to hear, and they were blown on the people's behalf for God to hear. It must be noted that they were made of silver. Every Israelite that was numbered from twenty years old and upward had to bring half a silver shekel as an offering to Jehovah-no more and no less. It was called atonement money. It was the acknowledgment on their part that they belonged to God who had redeemed them by blood and power out of the bondage of Egypt for His own pleasure, and the silver thus offered was devoted to the service of the sanctuary; and of part of it these trumpets were made (Exod. 30).
When the priests blew long and loud upon these trumpets, they proclaimed to the uttermost limits of Israel that the people belonged to God; that He had redeemed them and had rights over them that could not be challenged. They were to hold themselves at His disposal. It mattered not with what they were engaged, God's call was imperative, and their own pursuits must take second place, must be abandoned in fact, and that immediately at the time the silver trumpets sounded out their assembling call.
Let us give attentive ears to the truth that the silver mouths of these trumpets proclaim, for their story has been written for our learning. Do we not hear the sound of them in the New Testament in such words as these in 1 Cor. 6:19, 2019What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19‑20)? "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, AND YE ARE NOT YOUR OWN? FOR YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE," and again in 1 Pet. 1:18, 1918Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (1 Peter 1:18‑19), "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." In clarion tones these words call to our souls. Yet there is nothing discordant in their sound to him that has ears to hear and a heart to understand; for they do not only tell of an insistent claim but of a great love, a love that paid the price and shed the blood, that it might possess us righteously and without a rival.
The words themselves are pure like silver, for "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Psalm 12:66The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6). And obedience to the words of the Lord purifies the soul; for we read, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit." (1 Pet. 1:2222Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22)). For practical and continuous purity of heart and life we must keep the great fact that we belong to God before our souls. It is the word of God to us morning by morning. The silver trumpet of His Word proclaims His redemptive rights over us, and the way of blessing for us is to respond in a glad subjection to His will.
1. Calling the Assembly
The first use to which these trumpets were put was "for the calling of the assembly." The tabernacle was the God-appointed center for His redeemed people in those ancient days, and from that center His words went forth, and to it He summoned them when He would. That was the shadow, the picture; Christ is the substance, the reality. And if we are obedient to the Word of God, Christ will be our one and only center. Hear then the call of the silver trumpet of the Word in this respect. "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:2020For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20). "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Heb. 10:2525Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25). "This do in remembrance of Me." 1 Cor. 11:2424And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:24). If lethargy of spirit has come over us, or if indifference of any sort has crept into our hearts in regard to these matters, may the words of God awaken us from it! And let each of us take heed to himself and not be influenced by another, for "the manner of some" must not affect us, but the Word; and the appeal that the Word makes is a personal one.
Suppose that when the priests at the tabernacle blew upon the silver trumpets calling the people together to hear the Word of the Lord, they were so engrossed with other matters that they did not heed the call. Suppose that Judah had a quarrel with Benjamin, and they considered their quarrel to be of more importance than the call of God, and so did not respond together to it. Suppose each tribe had made a center for itself, with its own laws, creed, and regulations. Suppose some were too busy with domestic, commercial or personal matters to hear the summons. What then? Would God be indifferent? No! The call would continue until some were aroused by it, and from first one tribe and then another there would come forth those who felt and owned God's claim. And there they would stand at last in the God-appointed meeting place, where He could speak to them and commune with them. Not many, we will suppose, only two or three when compared with the multitude of the people, but obedient to the call of God and united in that obedience! Would the Lord despise them? Would He refuse to say to them what He would have said to the whole of Israel if they had been there? We may be sure that the Word would not be less rich, or the meeting less blessed because not all were there. And so it is and will be as long as God's Word abides; and those who obey it, though but two or three, will prove how faithful He is to it. He cannot deny Himself.
2. The Journeying of the Camps
The people were pilgrims in that great wilderness, and they were not to settle down and make their home in it. They were traveling to Canaan, and they needed to be reminded of the fact. So when the time came for them to pass on, an alarm was blown; the trumpets kept them on the move, and this we need also. How soon we can stagnate and sleep and forget our heavenly home and calling! Yet God is gracious, and His Word awakes us to renewed spiritual energy. It blows an alarm and says to us, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Eph. 5:1414Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (Ephesians 5:14). "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Col. 3:22Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2). "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Pet. 1:1313Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:13). In such words as these do we hear the silver trumpets sounding an alarm, lest we should mind earthly things and forget our high destiny and our Father's house. For these two purposes the trumpets were blown on God's behalf in those times of old, and for us in these last days the word comes to us saying, "He that hath an ear, let him hear," and "Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only."
3. When in Conflict With the Oppressor
Then the priests had to sound the silver trumpets on behalf of the people that they might he remembered before God. They had to do this when they were in conflict with their foes, for they had foes to meet, and they were never by their own prowess equal to them. And God made them that way, that they might in times of stress depend upon Him. They could not do without God. He was their refuge and resource and strength. When they blew the trumpets in the day of battle it was as though they said, "0 God, we are Thine, for Thou hast redeemed us; undertake for us against the oppressor." And God ever responded to their appeal. And will He disappoint us if we take up this stand in faith? Let us test Him and see. How fierce are the struggles in which some Christians engage! They desire to do right and be overcomers when sore temptations beset them; they yearn after the victorious life, but they seem to yearn in vain; hope and disappointment have alternated in their experience, and the outcome of it is that, finding the foe too strong for them, they are discouraged and ready to give up the fight. Let all such learn to use the silver trumpets. Let the great fact that they are redeemed of the Lord get a firm hold upon their souls, and let them tell it out to God. Let their cry be, "0 God, I am Thine; full of failure I am, often defeated I have been, yet I am loved by Thee, and redeemed by Thee, and at so great a cost; I cannot fight this battle; fight it for me; my foes are Thy foes, and Thine are mine; I hide in Thee and own that only through Thee can I be more than conqueror."
The Christian life is not a life of ease. It is not described in the Word in the language of the bedchamber, but of the battlefield. The world, the flesh and the devil are opposed to us if we belong to God. If we lose the sense that we belong to Him, we cannot prevail in the fight; but when we blow the trumpets before Him, then will the word be fulfilled, "Ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies." Numb. 10:99And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. (Numbers 10:9).
These sons of Jacob were to acknowledge God in all their circumstances. Whether they were exalted or brought low, whether they prospered or suffered adversity, whether they rejoiced or wept, the redemption note had to be dominant. And how else shall we be kept from independence of God when things go well with us? We are safe in the days of gladness if we rejoice before the Lord and own Him as the giver of every mercy, and if we hold ourselves and His gifts for Him, the Giver to whom we belong. And we are comforted and sustained if we call upon Him in the day of sorrow. If we blow the silver trumpet and say-
"LORD I AM THINE, though sorrows gather round me,
And death's dark shadow thwart my path is thrown; Savior divine, Thy outstretched hand upholds me,
And, being Thine, I shall not walk alone."
5. At the Beginnings of Their Months
The beginnings of their months spoke of the constant changes in this life. At every change it is our privilege and our safety to depend upon God and to do His will whose we are. "Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." Jas. 4:1515For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:15). No change in our circumstances ought to be contemplated, much less completed, without the use of the silver trumpets. "0 God, we belong to Thee; guide us in all our ways," should be our cry. The young man entering business, young Christians forming friendships, associations, new relationships, should let the great fact that they are bought with a price control them, and pour out the joyous notes of this blessed truth in the Lord's ear. Thus will they be spared many sorrows and preserved from great disaster. "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Pro. 3:66In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:6).
6. Over Their Burnt Offerings and Peace Offerings
With these sacrifices the people approached
unto God. The burnt offering was a type of our
worship, and the peace offering of our fellowship; our worship which has Christ, the beloved Son of God who went into death, as its subject, and our fellowship which finds its life and its food in Him also. But we cannot approach to God for worship except as redeemed by the blood of Christ. Vain and presumptuous is the notion of the modernist that he does not need this; "Without the shedding of blood is no remission." And the blood that has redeemed us gives us boldness before God, so that we can in holy fellowship unite in worship before Him, His redeemed ones. Hence we sing the new song unto our great and blessed Savior: "Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood."
"I AM THE LORD THY GOD," is God's final word in the instructions given for the use of these trumpets. He can brook no rival. He must be supreme. For His pleasure He has redeemed us, and His will for us is good, perfect, and acceptable. It is not against us, but for us. It is against all that could do us harm, and has nothing but blessing for us; and as we own Him and live as those who belong to Him, as we daily, hourly, blow the silver trumpets, we shall prove that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.