God needed Israel’s undivided attention for a full year to transform them from slaves completely inoculated with pagan Egyptian culture into people of God. Throughout Exodus, Leviticus and the first six chapters of Numbers, God sculpts a beautiful, holy people from the rough-hewn rubble of slavery.
In Numbers 7 – 10, God polishes his sculpture. All but two of 419 verses in these four chapters are commands of God through Moses and Israel’s response in unity with God and understanding that day-to-day government flows from what is holy. Both holiness and organized government make a nation that honors God and is loved by God.
Israel has spent an entire year in training for the journey to come under the watchful tutelage of the God who loves them, far from civilization, where he can chip away anything that does not look like Israel’s unity with God. To emphasize this transformation, God commands that Israel celebrate the Passover on the first anniversary of their deliverance from Egypt.
Then God underscores how Israel is to affirm its unity with God in the future, in good times and bad. He commands that they fashion two silver trumpets and how they are to be blown, with certain signals for preparing the entire nation to set out on their journeys, and with other signals for sounding alarms in the event of attack.
But God’s intent is not only tactical for logistics and defense. It is also to underscore and shout why they must actively practice unity with God.
“When you go to war in your land against the adversary who attacks you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God, and be saved from your enemies.
“Also in the day of your gladness…you shall blow the trumpets over your…offerings; and they shall be as a reminder of you before your God. I AM the LORD your God.” (Numbers 10:9-10, NASB)
Remembered by God; saved from your enemies; reminded that you stand before God. There can be no question whether Israel understands its relationship with God through Moses and what God expects of them after 1,134 commands since the beginning of Exodus.
Nor can there be any question of our relationship with God through Jesus today and what he expects of us through his commands in the New Testament. We are without excuse for disobedience.
For Israel, this has been the calm before the storm. Remember this as the scene in Numbers 11 shifts dramatically away from unity with God to blatant disobedience.