Blowing The Silver Trumpets
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Make thee two trumpets of silver: of a whole piece shalt thou make them.”—Numbers 10:1–2
What is it that we need first and most, if the months that lie ahead of us, if the Lord will, are to be fruitful in the things that are pleasing to God? How are we to fulfill the relationship of life, and in them adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour 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 one year gives place to another, we may well face 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 OF GOD’S CLAIMS OVER US. Without this we build without a foundation, we waste our energies, and live unreal and useless lives. God’s claims are paramount; since He is God, they must be, and for our blessing as well as for His glory we must own His claims, and obey the word, “YIELD YOURSELVES UNTO 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 when they did not make their appeal to that people. They were blown on God’s behalf for the 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, and it is well known that silver in the Scriptures is a symbol of redemption. Every Israelite that was numbered from twenty years old and upward had to bring half a silver shekel as an offering to Jehovah. It was the acknowledgment on their part that they belonged to God, who had redeemed them out of bondage for His own pleasure, and the silver thus offered was devoted to the service of the sanctuary (Exodus 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 a second place; must be abandoned, in fact, and that immediately, what 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 those in 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 Peter 1:19–20, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye are not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” With clarion blast these words call to our souls. Yet there is nothing discordant in their sound to him that hath 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 12:6), 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 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 at the opening of this New Year. 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 Of The Assembly
The first use to which these trumpets were put was “for the calling of the assembly.” The Tabernacle was the God-appointed centre for His redeemed people in those ancient days, and from that centre His words to them 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 Centre. 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” (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” (Hebrews 10:25). “This do in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). 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 Word 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 to us 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 need 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 centre 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 together 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 had they 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 had not to settle down and make their home in it. They were traveling to Canaan, and need was that they should be reminded of this fact. So that when the time came for them to press 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 awakens 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” (Ephesians 5:14). “Set your affections on things above, not on things of 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 to 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 those 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 ears to hear let him hear,” and be not hearers of the Word only but doers of it.
3. When In Conflict With The Oppressor
Then the priests had to sound the silver trumpets on behalf of the people that they might be remembered before God. They had to do this when they were in conflict with their foes, for foes they were to meet, and they were never by their own prowess equal to them, and God made them like that that they might in every time of stress depend upon Him. He was their refuge and resource and strength. When they blew the trumpets in the day of battle it was as though they said: “Oh God, we are Thine, 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 to be overcomers when sore temptations beset them: they yearn after a 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: “O 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 a 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.”
4. On The Days Of Your Gladness And On Your Solemn Days
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. How much more do we need this! How else shall we be kept from independence of God when things go well with us? How else shall we be kept from despair when sorrows beat upon us? We are safe in 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;
Saviour, Divine, Thy outstretched Hand upholds me,
And being Thine, I shall not walk alone.
5. At The Beginning Of Their Months
The beginning 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” (James 4:15). No change in our circumstances ought to be contemplated, much less completed, without the use of the silver trumpets. “O 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. “Acknowledge Him in all thy ways and He shall direct they paths.”
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, and its subject, and our fellowship which finds its life and its food in Him also. But we cannot approach unto 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, but we do it as those who belong to Him. His redeemed ones. Hence we sing the new song unto our great and blessed Saviour: “Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.”
“I AM THE LORD THY GOD,” is God’s final word in the instructions given as to the use of these trumpets. He can brook no rival. He must be supreme, for His pleasure we were created, 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.