Numbers 10:35, 36
And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let your enemies be scattered…
Here are two petitions - one as the cloud rose to point the way, the other as it settled down again to indicate the time for rest. The morning and the evening prayer cannot be the same; there is one set of needs to be supplied during the day, and another during the night. THE FIRST PETITION. It was fixed on the one thing needed, as the Israelites journeyed on into unknown territory. Moses needed not to pray for guidance. They were being guided, and had nothing to do but follow. Behind the ark and the cloud there was the evident duty of obedience, but what was there in front? Moses could make some guess from what he had already experienced. Before the Israelites had been three months out of Egypt, they were met by Amalek at Rephidim, blocking the way to Sinai. Moses, therefore, recognizes the great likelihood of more enemies in front, now they have left Sinai. The great bulk of his followers doubtless thought more of the present than the future, and both present and future they wanted to be like the past in Egypt, full of good things for their sinful cravings. But Moses, with a different spirit, felt there were enemies in the way. Getting into Canaan meant not only journeying but fighting. It is a serious defect in us that we do not think enough of the spiritual enemies in front. There are examples to warn: Peter overrating natural courage; Demas, overcome by the allurements of the present age. Notice that, in its own way, the New Testament is every whit as warlike in its spirit as the old (Matthew 10:34; Romans 7:23: 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-17; 1 Timothy 1:18; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16: indeed the Revelation is full of spiritual war and conquest). These enemies in front are considered also as God's enemies. "Thine enemies." As men attack one another through their property, so God's enemies attack him through his people. God in the blessedness and security of his own nature is unassailable, but in the workings of his manifold creation the powers of evil may attack him, maintaining a long and bitter struggle ('Paradise Lost,' B. 2:310-370). Do not think of these powers as aiming simply at our destruction. This is but a means to an end. There is a far sublimer and more encouraging view, that they are aiming to destroy the government of God. We never find out the purpose of a battle by looking at the conflicts of the private soldiers and inferior officers. We must come to the supreme authorities. It is they who inspire and direct everything. So there may be a struggle going on in the universe of which we, with our little horizon, can form but a feeble conception. Lastly, it is prayed that these enemies should be decisively dealt with. It is an awful thing to think of, but we must not shut our eyes to plain and solemn facts, that as we look backwards from this point to the beginning of the Scriptures, we find the Almighty, in three instances, acting against the iniquity of the world in a most decisive and comprehensive way. The deluge was a scattering, so was the destruction of Sodom, so was the overwhelming of Pharaoh and his hosts, which last great punitive act of God, Moses had seen with his own eyes, and celebrated with his own laps. There is enough to assure his people that he will make a final scattering in his own time. THE SECOND PETITION.
1. It was a welcome to the conqueror. God was doing something for his people in conquest every day. We may be sure there was no day in all these long forty years but something was done to undermine the huge and threatening' powers that opposed advancing Israel. As the huge tree is slowly hollowed and eaten away, leaving a mere shell to come down at last with a crash, so the strongholds of iniquity are effectually sapped, little by little. Jericho seemed to fall as in a day before the trumpet blasts of Israel; in reality it had been nodding to its fall for years. So we may be constantly welcoming Jesus as the Captain of our salvation (Exodus 15:2; Luke 4:14, 15; Acts 14:26-28).
2. It indicated the use to be made of the victory. The enemies of God were scattered and dispossessed in order that his own people may come in and exercise a faithful stewardship for him. His victories open up regions which could not otherwise be attained. E.g., the risen Saviour, having triumphed over sin, death, and the grave, returned to his disciples in Galilee, telling them that all power was given to him in heaven and on earth, and thence he drew this consequence in the way of duty for them, that they were to go and disciple all nations, etc. (Matthew 28:18-20). If the risen Lord be indeed with us, then, because he is risen, we, having still our fight with sin and death to accomplish, are nevertheless assured of ultimate victory. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.