From Thorns to Garland
Now in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth of the month, the cloud was lifted from over the tabernacle of the testimony; and the sons of Israel set out on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai. Then the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran. >Numbers 10:11-12
As our story arrives in chapter 10, the Israelites have the preparation work done, the bags packed, and they are ready to go! With Numbers 10:11 the book of Numbers comes into its second division. Biblically, the number two, or the second division, carries one of two meanings. It can be one of fellowship, or one of separation. As we come into this second section, the reader is about to find out whether the Israelites enter into a period of fellowship or a period of separation. Not only is this the second section of the book, but the writer emphasizes that the story is in its second year, its second month, and it is the 20th day of the month. One would have to question that this was coincidental. It seems that the Holy Spirit is giving God's signature to this work. It is astounding how often the truths of Biblical numerology are shown in the smallest of details.
The children of Israel have been in the wilderness of Sinai. Sinai literally means "thorns." A year of wandering in the wilderness of thorns seems more than sufficient to develop a desire to move into the land flowing with milk and honey. At this point, the cloud, which was the Lord moved until it settled in the wilderness of Paran. Paran means garland or adornment.At last, the nation had the opportunity to move from forms to Garland. This was definitely moving up! The prophet Isaiah would later speak the desire of the Lord for Israel. In the latter days, when he says that the Lord once "to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of the spirit of fainting" (Isaiah 61:3). When this happens, the Israelites says, "I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exalt in my God; for he has clothed me with garments of salvation, he has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland" (Isaiah 61:3).
Sadly, we know the rest of the story. We know that the Israelites chose to wander in the wilderness of thorns rather than moving on to the wilderness of garland. In our own lives, when given the opportunity, will we choose fellowship or separation?
In His Grace;
Dr. Randy White
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