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CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES
The request made by the daughters of Zelophehad arose naturally out of the census, which was taken with a view to the distribution of the land amongst the people, and the Divine directions for the distribution, both of which are recorded in the previous chapter.
Numbers 27:1 (comp. Numbers 26:29; Numbers 26:33).
Numbers 27:2. All the congregation “denotes the college of elders, which represented the congregation and administered its affairs.”
The door of the tabernacle, i.e., where the elders met in solemn assembly.
Numbers 27:3. Died in his own sin. Zelophehad had not taken part in any of the rebellions which had been avenged by special judgments, but had died “under the general sentence of exclusion from the land of promise passed on all the older generation.”
Numbers 27:12. This mount Abarim (see notes on Numbers 21:20).
Numbers 27:13 (see Numbers 20:23-29.
Numbers 27:14 (see Numbers 20:7-13).
Numbers 27:16 (comp. Numbers 16:22).
Numbers 27:18. In whom is the spirit, i.e., “The spiritual endowment requisite for the office he was called to fill.”
Numbers 27:20. Of thine honour; “i.e. of thy dignity and authority. Joshua was constituted forthwith vice-leader under Moses, by way of introduction to his becoming chief after Moses’s death.”—Speaker’s Comm.
Numbers 27:21. He shall stand before Eleazar, &c. In this respect Joshua did not enjoy the exalted privilege of Moses (comp. Numbers 12:6-8; Deuteronomy 34:10).
The judgment of Urim, &c. Rather, “the judgment of the Urim before Jehovah.” “Urim is an abbreviation for Urim and Thummim, and denotes the means with which the high priest was instructed of ascertaining the Divine will and counsel in all the important business of the congregation.”—Keil and Del. What these means were we do not know. “ ‘Light and perfection’ would probably be the best English equivalent” for the words Urim and Thummim. See an excellent article on the subject by Professor Plumptre in Dr. Smith’s Dict. of the Bible.
THE REQUEST OF THE DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD: THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN
I. The request of the daughters of Zelophehad.
1. Was presented in an orderly and becoming manner. “They stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest,” &c. (Numbers 27:2). They made their request in a regular manner, and to the proper authorities.
2. Was eminently fair and reasonable. While their father, by reason of sin, was in common, with the generation to which he belonged, excluded from the Promised Land, yet he had not done anything for which his children should be deprived of an inheritance therein. And it certainly does not seem reasonable that they should be so deprived because they were all daughters—that they should be disqualified because of their sex. (a)
3. Indicated becoming respect for their father. They vindicate him from the guilt of sharing in any of the rebellions except the general one; and they evince an earnest desire for the perpetuation of his name and family. If no inheritance were granted to them as his heirs, then his name would cease from among his family. But if a possession among the brethren of their father were granted to them, then his name would be preserved: for when an heiress of landed property became a wife, her husband married into her family rather than she into his, and “the sons who inherited the maternal property were received through this inheritance into the family of their mother, i.e., of their grandfather on the mother’s side.” We have examples of this in the case of Jair, who was reckoned a Manassite, though his father was a descendant of Judah (Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14; 1 Chronicles 2:21-22), and in the case of Jarha and his wife, the daughter of Sheshan (1 Chronicles 2:34-35).
4. Implied faith in the promise of God to give Canaan to the Israelites. Though the Canaanites were in full possession of the land, and the Israelites had not even entered therein, yet they ask for their portion as if the land were already possessed by their people.
5. Implied an earnest desire for a portion in the Promised Land.
II. The Divine answer to their request.
1. Was given by Jehovah to Moses in response to his enquiries. “And Moses brought their cause before the Lord. And the Lord spake unto Moses,” &c. Notice here—
(1) The humility of Moses. He does not presume to decide the case himself, &c.
(2) The direction which God grants to the humble. “The meek will He guide in judgment,” &c.
2. Commended the cause of the daughters of Zelophehad. “The daughters of Zelophehad speak right.”
3. Granted the request of the daughters of Zelophehad. “Thou shalt surely give them a possession, &c.” (Numbers 27:7). (b)
4. Included a general law of inheritance. “And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel,” &c. (Numbers 27:8-11). Thus a great benefit accrued to the nation from the request of the daughters of Zelophehad.
(a) Some disabilities still accrue to woman, especially in respect to property, and just payment for her labour. Tasks that she is fully competent to every way, public opinion and false custom will not let her do, cruelly telling her she shall sooner starve; and for work that she actually does as well and as rapidly as her companion, man, she receives only a quarter of his wages; both of which are wrongs that Christianity rebukes as clearly as it does slavery or defalcation, and wrongs that Christian men must speedily remedy, or else cease to be Christians, and well-nigh cease to be men.
For the wrongs that remain to her position, and the disabilities that man’s too selfish and partially Christianized nature has not yet removed, let her not, in the name of all that is lovely and all that is skilful, go to separatist conventions, nor to the platform, nor to the novel schemes of political economy, or social re-organization; out to that moral tribunal, where she is as sure to win her cause at last as the sunlight is to compel a summer. Let her take up and wield the spiritual sovereignty that is her everlasting birthright. Let her understand—what so few of her sex have been willing to learn to this hour—the power lodged in her whole spirit and voice and look and action for or against the kingdom of Heaven. Let her be content with the possession and exercise of power, in all its higher forms, without that appendage which unhallowed pride is for ever insisting on—the name of it. Let her unfold every nobler faculty that our imperfect social state invites; and then be sore that the social state will ripen into more perfect humanities, and full justice come at last. Let her be the brave domestic advocate of every virtue, the silent but effectual reformer of every vice, the unflinching destroyer of falsehood, the generous patroness of intelligence, the watcher by slandered innocence, the guardian of childhood, the minister of Heaven to home, the guide of orphans, the sister of the poor, the disciple of Christ’s holy Church. On Jesus of Nazareth,—all fails except for this,—on the Saviour’s heart, let her rest her unchangeable and unassailable hope, her unquestioning trust, her unconquerable love.—F. D. Huntington, D.D.
(b) Is it nothing for woman to remember, when her sex is made the type and tabernacle of Love, that we have ascribed the loftiest glory even to the Almighty Father when we have said that His name is Love? Is it nothing to her that her place in society and her powers in the world correspond to her character? That while she shares with man, in honourable and often equal measure, certainly in these modern times, every intellectual privilege, literary accomplishment, and public function—authorship, the chair of science, the throne of state—she yet has a realm all her own, sacred to her peculiar ministry, where she reigns by a still diviner right? Is it nothing that it is her face which first bends over the breathing child, looks into his eyes, welcomes him to life, steadies his uncertain feet until they walk firmly on the planet? Suppose man were the natural enemy of woman; consider that from his birth, for the first ten years of his life, he is put into her hands, with scarcely a reservation or exception, to be impressed, moulded, fashioned into what she will,—so that, if he were born a wild tiger, her benignity would have its opportunity to tame him; consider that it has been historically demonstrated that scarcely a single hero, reformer statesman, saint, or sage, has ever come to influence or adorn his age, from Jacob to Washington, who was not reared by a remarkable mother that shaped his mind; and then ask whether it is not equal folly for woman to claim the name of power, and for man to deny her the possession.
There is hardly a walk of public or private life where female talent is not heartily honoured, and does not command its deserved success. The fine arts, the sciences, classical learning, social reform, philosophy, education, empire,—all are represented at this day by accomplished women. Do they suffer detriment, or loss of influence, because they are women? Is Mrs. Somerville, or Miss Mitchell, less esteemed among the scientific minds of the age for her sex? Does not the whole British kingdom learn a heightened regard for woman from the womanly character it beholds in its Queen? Is there a department of knowledge from which woman is now, by our modern systems of education, shut out? Must it not be very soon true that her power shall be proportioned to her energy, and her influence be measured only by her merit? Probably the larger proportion of scholarship and public enterprise will still be with men—the providential constitution of the sexes justifies that expectation; but when exceptions appear, the demand of Christian liberty is, that they be welcomed, recognised and rewarded.—Ibid.
THE SERVANT OF GOD SUMMONED HOME
The intimation here given to Moses of his approaching death suggests the following observations:—
I. That sin is an evil of the greatest gravity.
The Lord here informs the great leader of Israel that he must shortly relinquish his charge and lay down his bodily life. But why must Moses die at this time? Not because he was worn out either physically or mentally: “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated;” and his splendid valedictory charge to the people shows that his mind had lost nothing either of force or of fire. Nor has he to die at this time because he has outlived his usefulness, he is still the most useful man of all the thousands of Israel. He has to die because of his sin “at the water of Meribah.” “Ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify Me at the water before their eyes” (comp. Numbers 20:2-13, and see pp. 372, 373). Moses besought the Lord that he might be permitted to enter “the good land that is beyond Jordan;” but the Lord “would not hear” him (Deuteronomy 3:23-27). Thus God manifests His abhorrence of sin, and testifies to its heinousness. (a)
II. That God is the absolute Sovereign of human life.
This great truth is strikingly illustrated in the death of Moses. Neither from disease, nor from the exhaustion of the vital forces, nor from accident, nor from external violence, does the great and good man die; but because God wills his death. To the man who recognises and obeys God’s laws, and seeks to live in harmony with His will, death cannot come either prematurely or accidentally. “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth?” “His days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee, Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.” “All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come.” “Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth,” &c. “Thou hast made my days as an hand-breath.” “Thou turnest man to destruction,” &c. “My times are in Thy hand.” (b)
This sovereignty of God over our life should—
1. Lead us to seek for conformity to His will. Manifestly it is both our duty and interest so to do.
2. Encourage us in the prosecution of worthy aims. “Man is immortal till his work is done.”
III. That inspiring visions are often granted to the good as they approach the close of their earthly career.
“The Lord said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel.” It was in mercy that God permitted him to survey the goodly land. Vast and splendid was the prospect from the heights of Nebo. “Even the city of Heshbon itself, stood upon so commanding an eminence, that the view extended at least thirty English miles in all directions, and towards the south probably as far as sixty miles.” As to Moses it was granted to behold the extent and beauty of the Promised Land before his death (Deuteronomy 34:1-4), so the most glorious spiritual prospects are often vouchsafed to godly souls as they draw near the close of their pilgrimage. This was the case with Stephen: “he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven,” &c. (Acts 7:55-60). And with Paul: “I am now ready to be offered,” &c. (2 Timothy 4:6-8). See p. 419. (c)
IV. That through the gates of death the good enter upon scenes of congenial social life.
“And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.” See p. 379. (d)
(a) When Moses, instead of giving prompt and cheerful obedience to the command of God, yielded in an evil moment to the peevishness and the pettishness of his own temper, not only did he come short of the Divine purpose, and fail to glorify God in the sight of His people, but He became subject to serious privation and peculiar loss. As the punishment of his disobedience, he was precluded from entering the Promised Land. Though permitted to come to its very border, and though, from Pisgah’s proud and lofty height, he was allowed to cast his eye over its fair and enchanting scenery, his feet never pressed its sacred soil, and ere his favoured nation had taken possession of the long-looked-for inheritance, his eyes were closed in death. Nothing is more natural than to suppose that after the toils and the strifes—the struggles and the sufferings of an arduous and devoted life, his heart thrilled with delight in the prospect of the earthly Canaan, and that it would have added much to the happiness of his old age had he been suffered to enter the good land, and there to have found a home and a grave. But this was denied to Him.—R. Ferguson, LL.D.
It seems certain that this death on Pisgah, and this sight of the Promised Land, was designed partly to humble and partly to gratify Moses; partly as a mortification, and partly as an honour; partly as a punishment and partly as a pleasure. It must have mortified him somewhat to be brought to the verge of the object of his long ambition and deep-felt desire, and then to have it removed out of his sight; to say to himself, “Not a child in all that camp, but is more favoured than I: never shall I cross that Jordan, or visit those sacred spots where my fathers lived, worshipped and died: I alone, amongst these millions, am denied this privilege.” But, on the other hand, while Aaron was not permitted to behold that land, but died with the great and terrible wilderness around him, Moses saw its beauty, felt a breeze wafted from its balmy air upon his dying brow, and expired while embracing it, as it were in the arms of his love and admiration. He saw, too, on the other hand, his people compacted into a powerful community, girt and armed for the contest; pawing like a lion ere setting their terrible feet upon the enemies’ soil, led by a man and warrior after his own heart, with the tabernacle of God in their midst, and the cloud of the pillar hovering over them, and this sight serves to give an additional consolation and joy to his departing spirit. What an honour, too, to be watched over and tended so carefully by the Most High! Moses stripped off Aaron a garments, and Eleazar assisted him; but the whole circumstances of the scene at Pisgah were arranged by the hand of God. He breathed on His servant and gave him death.—G. Gilfillun, M.A.
(b) For an illustration on this point, see on p. 381, 382. (b)
(c) Privilege as well as punishment is often connected with the death of God’s people, and He often proves how precious in His sight is the death of His saints, by giving them in their last moments bursts of insight and glimpses of glory. Moses was alone on the mount at the time, and perhaps he was the only man, at all events the only eminent saint of God, who on the literal Pisgah ever died. But the path to the spiritual Pisgah is well worn, and many a pious soul has found it a Mount Clear, and seen from it a little of the “glory of the land.” … Words of rapture, of calm and sober yet profound and thrilling joy, have come forth from the lips of the departing children of God. Biography teems with these. How the martyred reformers and covenanters died, each of them with some cheering Scripture word, like a scroll of glory, on his lips, such as, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit;” “Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly;” “I have a desire to depart, and be with Christ;” “None but Christ; none but Christ.” The famous Thomas Halyburton lay for weeks on his death-bed, and it seemed to have been uplifted by the hands of angels nearer to heaven as he lay upon it, and breathed out his ardent soul in words of ecstasy. In later times we find a Payson speaking of the “Sun of Righteousness becoming larger, brighter, and broader to his soul as he was drawing nigh it;” a Hall crying, “I have a humble hope, which I would not exchange for all worlds;” the young and lovely Mrs. Shepherd, whose interest in his salvation almost melted the heart of Byron himself, saying, as she lay a dying, “God’s happiness, God’s happiness,” words which seemed to mean, “That is the only happiness deserving the name, and I am going to inherit it above;” and the great Coleridge, who amidst many aberrations of intellect and life died at last a meek disciple of Jesus, and dictated on his death-bed these lines as his epitaph:—
“Mercy for praise—to be forgiven for fame, He asked and hoped through Christ—do thou the same.”
These persons were verily in their last hours exalted to one or other of the peaks of Pisgah, and received extraordinary testimonies of the presence and favour of God.—Ibid.
For additional illustrations on this point, see p. 420. (b)
(d) For an illustration on this point, see p. 382. (e)
A MODEL ORDINATION SERVICE
In this paragraph there are several things which deserve notice.
i. The solicitude of Moses for the carrying on of God’s work. This was his great concern when he knew that the time of his departure was at hand. “Moses spake unto the Lord saying, Let the Lord, the God of the spirits,” &c. (Numbers 27:15-17).
ii. The noble unselfishness of Moses. He does not seek the appointment of one of his sons as his successor. Already the high priesthood has been settled in the family of Aaron, and it would have been a very natural thing if Moses had asked that one of his sons might succeed him in his office; but he leaves the appointment entirely with the Lord.
iii. The directions of the Lord for the ordination of the successor of Moses (Numbers 27:18-21).
iv. The carrying out of these directions by Moses (Numbers 27:22-23).
Although the ordination of Joshua was to the office of chief magistrate, yet we may regard it as illustrating a Model Ordination Service to the Christian Ministry. What an interesting ordination service this was! With Canaan so near, and the great leader so soon to pass away, and the recollections of the sinful strife at Meribah and of his sin there, which caused his passing away at this time, so clear—this service must have been deeply impressive. What a charge Moses would give! And how solemn would it be to Joshua as he pondered on the reason why Moses was leaving them then! And how full of instruction and warning to the congregation!
In our day an ordination is regarded by some as merely a thing of ecclesiastical etiquette; and by others as a kind of religious banquet, at which able men will preach eloquent sermons, and an intellectual and emotional feast will be provided. Let us correct such notions by the consideration of this ordination, the directions for which were given by God. This ordination suggests—
I. That the person ordained should be chosen of God for his work.
Moses asked the Lord to “set a man over the congregation,” &c. (Numbers 27:16-17). “And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua,” &c. So now the Christian minister should be—
1. Called by God to His work. (a)
2. Appointed by God to his sphere of work. As the Head of the Church, Christ is deeply concerned in the selection and appointment of its ministers. He both calls His under-shepherds, and appoints them their spheres. The minister himself should feel that he holds his commission and appointment from the Lord. Such a conviction will be to Him an inspiration and strength, &c.
There is one distinguishing characteristic in every man whom God calls; they are all, like Joshua, men “in whom is the Spirit.” They are endowed by God with the spiritual qualifications for the discharge of their sacred duties. The Divine call and the Divine qualification are invariably associated. (b)
II. That the ordination is to the most important work.
Joshua was ordained to preside over the Israelites and direct them in all their affairs. “Set a man over the congregation, which may go out before them,” &c.
How unspeakably important are the duties of the Christian minister! It is his to publish the glad tidings, to instruct the people of his charge, to counsel, to warn, to rebuke, to encourage, &c. (c)
“’Tis not a cause of small import
The pastor’s care demands;
But what might fill an angel’s heart,
And filled a Saviour’s hands.”
III. That the ordination should be conducted by tried men.
Joshua was ordained by Moses alone. But in the ordination of Timothy, Paul was assisted by the elders of the Church (1 Timothy 4:14). The cases were different. Joshua was to be chief magistrate; but Timothy was ordained to a purely spiritual ministry. The forms of government also were much altered. Moses’s time joined on to the days of patriarchal government; but it was far otherwise in Paul’s day. But in both cases they were proved men, men of experience and of good reputation, holy and honoured men. So should it ever be in ordinations to the Christian ministry.
IV. The ordination should be accompanied with the imposition of hands.
“Take thee Joshua … and lay thine hand upon him.” This was done as a sign of the transference of the government to him, and of the conference of the Holy Ghost upon him. “Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him” (Deuteronomy 34:9). The imposition of hands is a natural and impressive form for the expression of benediction; and seems to have been so used in all ages (comp. Genesis 48:14; Matthew 19:13; Matthew 19:15; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:17; Acts 9:17; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Timothy 1:6. (d)
V. That the ordination should include a charge to the ordained.
“Give him a charge.” The duties and responsibilities of the office should be laid before those who are being set apart to it; and the experience of godly and approved men should be made available for the direction of the inexperienced. What wise and inspiring things Moses would say to Joshua in this charge! What sage counsels drawn from his ripe experience, &c.! Nothing is more natural and becoming than to give a charge to any one entering upon new and solemn relationships and duties. The parent gives a charge to his son as he goes forth from home to the battle and burden of life, &c. The veteran who has been in many a battle is well able to counsel the recent recruit, who is about to gird on the armour for the first time.
VI. That the ordination should be conducted in the presence of the people.
“Set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation, and give him a charge in their sight.” The Christian minister should be ordained in the presence of the congregation, because the office to which he is being set apart is one involving mutual obligations. Moreover, such an arrangement—
1. Is more impressive to the person being ordained. There present with him are the immortal souls for whom he has to live and labour.
2. Tends to influence the people beneficially. As they hear of the important duties and solemn responsibilities of their minister, they should be awakened to deeper solicitude and more earnest prayer on his behalf, and to heartier co-operation with him. (e)
VII. The ordination should confer honour upon the person ordained.
“Thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient” (comp. Deuteronomy 34:9).
To serve God in the ministry of redemptive truth is a great honour, even to the holiest and ablest of men—to be an “ambassador for Christ,” &c. (f) But in addition to this, when a number of experienced and honoured ministers, who know the person they are about to “lay hands on,” unite to ordain him “before all the congregation,” by that act they declare that they, knowing him, regard him as a fit and proper person for the holy office of the Christian minister; and so they put of their honour upon him, that the people of his charge may have ampler ground for respecting and trusting him. For this reason, those who take the chief duties in an ordination service should be personally acquainted with him whom they ordain.
VIII. That a person so chosen of God, should seek special direction from Him, and seeking, shall obtain it.
“And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest,” &c. (Numbers 27:21). The general principle here suggested we take to be this,—that every man who is called of God to special responsibilities, should seek and shall obtain special help to fit him for those responsibilities. That such was the case with the Apostles, we see from Matthew 28:18-20; John 14:26; and John 16:12-13. This should serve—
1. As a warning against self-sufficiency. The great Apostle of the Gentiles writes, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves,” &c. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). Again he asks, “Who is sufficient for these things?”
2. As a source of encouragement and strength. We have access to the infinite resources of the Most High God. “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” &c. “Our sufficiency is of God,” &c. (g).
(a) For illustrations on this point, see pp. 23 (a), 50 (c), and 326 (a).
(b) For illustrations on ministerial qualifications, see pp. 328, 329.
(c) For illustrations on this point, see p. 62 (a) and (b).
(d) The laying-on of hands had been, from the time when Moses was directed to lay hands upon Joshua, the regular recognized manner of appointing to an office in the Church of God; and it was just adopted by the Christian Church from having prevailed by God’s own command in the Jewish. It is of course a significant appointment; an appointment signifying the delegation of authority to do that which the person appointing is empowered thus to appoint another to perform. Further than that we cannot say respecting it. It is accompanied always with prayer: and the laying on of hands would probably be considered to denote that that which was applied for in the prayer was granted to the prayer and conveyed to the person appointed. That would seem to be the explanation of the gesture in thus appointing, in the simplicity of the primitive Church.—H. Alford, D.D.
(e) It is a popular error to suppose that a gig can go on one wheel. The minister most have the co-operation of his hearers. They must be workers together. The minister cannot beg, and organize, and visit, and preach, and preside—get up bazaars, establish societies, collect for chapel debts, tell anecdotes at sewing meetings, and reconcile all the differences which arise between two-and-ninepence and half-a-crown. He is called to preach the Gospel—work enough for the strongest powers! Let him be encouraged and honoured in his holy vocation.—Joseph Parker, D.D.
(f) Let those who sustain the character of Christian ministers, think what a Master they serve, and in how great a work they are engaged! How little all the titles which the princes of this world can give must appear, when compared with that of the ministers of Jesus, and a servant of God, in the salvation of souls! How low the employments of secular life are, even those in which the nobles and kings of the earth are engaged, in comparison with theirs!—Philip Doddridge, D.D.
(g) Brothers! “our sufficiency is of God.” Let us betake ourselves to the “throne of the heavenly grace,” for our strength must be maintained by prayer. The suppliant leaves the altar clothed with power; the breath of his own prayer is returned into his spirit as an inspiration from heaven. The hope of the ministry is in PRAYER. To the devout mind, the sacred page is lighted with unearthly splendour; on the prayerful intellect, the noblest thoughts alight in their descent from the Eternal Intelligence; on the contrite heart, God bestows the most enriching bliss. Minister of Christ! wouldst thou study profitably? Pray much. Wouldst thou preach with soul-arousing energy? PRAY MUCH. Wouldst thou edify the believer, reclaim the wanderer, abash the blasphemer, and thrill the indifferent? PRAY MUCH. “Them that honour Me I will honour.” The pulpit of the prayerful minister will be the scene of most brilliant conquest,—from it will stream the banner of glorious triumph; and instead of appropriating the honour to himself, the minister will exclaim, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”—Joseph Parker, D.D.
“THE GOD OF THE SPIRITS OF ALL FLESH.”
 For another homiletic sketch and illustrations on this text see pp. 302–305
“The God of the spirits of all flesh.”
Various ways in which we become impressed by Scripture with a sense of the value of the soul—histories of Scripture—promises of Scripture—great transactions of Scripture—Redemption. Now let us learn the same lesson by contemplating the powers of the soul itself, especially in its connection with God.
Our text brings God and man together—spirits and the God of spirits.
I. The affecting view here furnished of the agency and dominion of God in connection with the human mind.
It is affecting. The power of other agents extends chiefly to the body. The oppressor holds the body bound; but knows not what a range the spirit takes unconscious of a chain.
1. God imparts the powers of the spirit. We have nothing self-derived. “Thou hast granted me life and favour, and Thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” But what is spirit? Of its essence we know nothing—only its properties. We know only the properties and attributes of matter,—hard, soft; hot, cold; wet, dry; resistance, &c. So of the spirit—by its properties, powers, affections. I see that God has made it like Himself—a being of intellectual order; capable of knowledge, wisdom, devotion; and, like its Author, capable of communicating its own happiness and impressions; and especially, like its Author, capable of purity.
2. He claims the affections of the spirit.
3. He heals the disorders and sympathises with the sorrows of the spirit.
4. He alone can constitute the happiness of the spirit.
5. He will decide upon the future destiny of the spirit.
II. The moral uses of these contemplations.
1. Let them teach you reverence for the human mind.
2. Let them impress you with thoughts of the vast importance of personal religion.
3. Let it inspire you with practical efforts to benefit and bless society. By education—by missions, &c.
4. Let it kindle hope for the prospects of the human race.—Samuel Thodey.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Numbers 27". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent