Numbers 10:1-10 – The School Bell Rings: What Do You Do?

Posted: August 18, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Number 10:1-10

The Silver Trumpets

When you are in school, bells are a trained part of life. Bells ring. You react. There are bells to warn you that school is about to start. It is a warning that you better be heading to where you are supposed to be. There are bells to signify the start of a class. There are bells to signify that the class period is over. More bells to warn you that you best be where you are supposed to be for the next class. Bells to signify that the next class has begun and so on and so on throughout the day. Then, there is that final bell at the end of the day that signifies that the last class of the day is over. And after the last bell, the chaos of unrestrained youth begins. At school, there is order. After school, we are on our own to make our own way. At school, there are the bells that give organization to our day. After you have been in school for a while, you hear bells. You react. You don’t really have to think about it. You hear the bells and you respond by moving toward where you are supposed to be. Even Pavlov’s dogs would react with salivation when they were trained to understand what the sounding of a bell meant. At school, we hear the bell and we must respond with action. We must stop what we are doing and recognize that action is required when we hear the school bells ring.

 

Here, in this passage, Numbers 10:1-10, trumpets were fashioned at the direction of God to sound the alarm to the people of Israel that the pillar of smoke or the pillar of fire was about to move. It was the job of the priests to sound the trumpets. They were to constantly watch the cloud and announce when it was about to move. The trumpets were also sounded to signal the need for the leaders of each clan to assemble at the entrance to the Tabernacle. The trumpets were sounded in a different way when it was time for all the tribes of Israel, not just the leaders, to gather at the entrance to the Tabernacle. It was the job of Aaron’s descendants, the priests, to signal to the people what the needed reaction was. When God moves, they were to sound the trumpet to Israel that it was time to look up to the pillar of smoke and fire and see it move.

 

Let’s read through the passage today and think about how pastors and Christians in general are to bells and trumpets to the world:

 

10 The Lord said to Moses: 2 “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out. 3 When both are sounded, the whole community is to assemble before you at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 4 If only one is sounded, the leaders—the heads of the clans of Israel—are to assemble before you. 5 When a trumpet blast is sounded, the tribes camping on the east are to set out. 6 At the sounding of a second blast, the camps on the south are to set out. The blast will be the signal for setting out. 7 To gather the assembly, blow the trumpets, but not with the signal for setting out.

 

8 “The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. 9 When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. 10 Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.”

 

The final piece of information given to Israel before departure from Sinai concerned two silver trumpets to be sounded by the priests, both to call the community to worship and to announce that it was time to break camp and move on to a new location. As such the use of the trumpets would be restricted, at least partially, to the wilderness sojournings. However, their use as a prelude to battle (v. 9) guaranteed their use even after Israel enters into its own land. It was not enough that the rising cloud signal advancement. To the divine work the human response was added.

 

All of this reminds me of school bells as I said. Even after a few weeks in school, little kindergarteners learn what the ringing of school bells mean. From then on, a ringing of a school bells causes automatic responses from school age kids. Bells ring. Response required. Just as school bells signal to us that a response is required, we, too, as Christians are the school bells, the trumpets, to the world around us. We are to remind the world that God is there and sometimes that He is about to move or that we need to come to Him and hear what He has to say. This takes on two forms. Pastors are our school bells and our trumpets sounding. As Christians laypeople, we are not only to hear the pastors trumpet and react but we are also to be trumpets and bells ourselves out in the world.

 

We rely on our pastors as Christians to be the trumpets to us, God’s people. They are to teach us about God. They are to point out to us that we need to pay attention to God and how He moves in our lives. They are to sound the trumpet for us to analyze our lives and see where we have lost sight of the pillar of God’s presence in our lives. They are to signal to us that we are not watching the pillar of smoke and fire – that we are not watching God. As Israel, when they were camped, might get all caught up in their daily work and family life and just the details of life that they were trying to control, the trumpets were sounded to look up and look toward God. Our pastors do the same for us today. They remind us to look toward heaven and to remind us that it is God that is in control of our movements. We can get so caught up in controlling our own little worlds that we forget to look up. We forget to give God his just attention for who He is and how He is the one that created all things and created us. We are signaled by our pastors to be look up to God. We are reminded by them to praise the Lord. We are reminded by them to follow God wherever He leads us. We are to be obedient to Him. Our pastors trumpet us to see why we are here. Our pastors remind us to look to God and remember that we are His people and that it is He that has freed us from our slavery to sin through Jesus Christ. Our pastors signal to us that we serve a mighty and awesome God whom we must look to for our direction and our protection. Our pastors trumpet to us that God is moving. We must be reminded sometimes that God is on the move and we must see how He works in our daily lives. We must be signaled to see that He is not some distant remote God but that He is right here with us working in our daily lives. Trumpet sounds. We remember and see how God moves.

 

For those of us who are not pastors to a flock of believers, we too must sound the trumpet. Our pastors disciple us to recognize when the cloud is on the move, and we are then sent out into the world to tell the world that God is on the move. We are the daily touches to the world around us that God does exist, that God sent His Son, and God is on the move in their lives even though they do not see it. We are the trumpets, the school bells, to the world. God is on the move. Wake up world and see God. He is right there! We must warn the world that they must react to God through His Son Jesus Christ. We are the clarion call to the world that ignoring God does not make Him not exist. We must be the trumpets to the world that just being more good than bad is not the answer. We must ring the bell to the world that we must react to Jesus Christ. We must tell them that not all roads lead to heaven. We must be the trumpet sound that gets their attention. We must be the school bells that cause a reaction. In the absence of school bells ringing, school children will not move toward where they need to be. They will stay right where they are playing and be happy with that and not realize that they need to be someplace else. We must ring the bell and cause the reaction. The ringing of bells at school are annoyingly loud and cause an irritated reaction to the stimulus. We must be loud bells to the world that causes an irritation. We must cause an irritated reaction. Too often, we do not want to disturb the world because we know that ringing the bell or sounding the trumpet will indeed cause a reaction. People are happy in their obliviousness to their need for Jesus Christ and react strongly to the forceful sound of the bell. But we must cause a reaction. A bell that can’t be heard in the school yard will not signal a reaction from students. We, as Christians, must sound the bell and the trumpet so the world will actually hear and react. We cannot stop ringing our bells and sounding our trumpets just so people can continue unabated playing their games on their playgrounds. Look up, world! God is there and He is moving. You must react, world! If you do not react, you will be left behind.

 

Once day the trumpet will sound that will signify the end of school. Jesus Christ will return one day with the loud blast of a trumpet sound in the eastern sky. School will be over then! Time to account for our day at school. Are you ready for the final trumpet sound? Or are you still looking down at your own little playground and not looking up toward God and following Him? There will be a final trumpet sound. There will be that final bell. Are you ready?

 

As Christ followers, are we shaking people’s shoulders and telling them to look toward God? Are we sounding our trumpets? Are we sounding them loudly? Look up. Look toward God. The trumpet is sounding! The school bell is ringing!

 

Amen and Amen.

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