RISE UP, LORD, AND RETURN
“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. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.” Numbers 10:35, 36
One can only imagine such a scene as this, as the camp of the Israelites marched forward. There were hundreds of thousands of families and multitudes of livestock moving under the direction of God, with the cloud of the Lord over them by day and the fire by night. In our text, we find them departing after being so long at Sinai. The Scripture says, “when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered.” Thus, Moses was asking God to precede them in their journeys and defeat their enemies. It then tells us “when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.” When it came time to rest, Moses asked God that He would dwell with them and provide rest at the conclusion of their journey. They needed God to go before them into conflict, and they needed God to sustain them and comfort them in their times of rest.
What a beautiful picture we see in this of our own need of God’s presence and companionship. We need Him to go forth against His enemies. How can we ever have victory without Him? If we are going to find our way blessed, God must go first. This assumes, of course, that our path is the road that God has planned; otherwise, He would not go before us. So if He is to go before us, we are to follow His leading.
Moses prayed that God would, “Rise up…and let thine enemies be scattered.” What can we learn from this? Should we not likewise ask God to fight our battles for us? What a mistake it is for us to assume that we are sufficient in ourselves for the conflicts and temptations each day might bring.
We are also reminded that God wants to lead and guide us as we go forward in Him. Then, when the Israelites halted to pitch their tents, Moses said, “Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.” Unless God rested with them, there could be no peace.
Can we not, and should we not, ask our dear Lord to abide with us in our homes and bless our times of rest? We see anew that we need the Lord with us at all times. We need Him in times of conflict and service, and we need Him in times of rest and reflection.