The Invitation of Moses to Hobab
William Nicholson, 1862
"One day Moses said to his brother-in-law, Hobab: We are journeying to the place of which the LORD said, 'I will give it to you.' Come with us, and we will do you good; for the LORD has promised good things to Israel." Numbers 10:29
The tendency of true religion is to destroy selfishness, and to produce love. By this, all true Christians will be distinguished. This was the character of Christ, and they have learned of him. Having tasted that the Lord is gracious, they wish others to realize the same. Being convinced that all on earth is unsatisfying, they are looking to Heaven for a more enduring substance — and they would have others to be like-minded. Of this character and disposition was Moses, as the text strikingly indicates.
From the text observe,
I. The People of God Are Traveling to the Heavenly Canaan
1. The place itself, Moses and the Israelites were proceeding to the conquest of the promised land. "We are journeying to the place of which the LORD said, 'I will give it to you.'"
We indeed have no such place to go to as Israel had, but we have a better country, even a heavenly one, of which Canaan was a type. And to that glorious country, all true believers are traveling.
It is a land of rest. So Canaan was from all the toils of the wilderness.
Just so, Heaven will be a rest from all the conflicts with sin and all spiritual foes — from all the trials arising from affliction, poverty, death, etc.
It is the place of purity. There are no fallen spirits there; no depraved hearts. They are all like God. It is the habitation of God's holiness. "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life!" Revelation 21:27
It is the place of unbounded wealth. Canaan was celebrated for great fertility and abundance, Deuteronomy 8:7-9; 11:10-12.
Just so, Christians have in Heaven an inheritance, a crown, etc. etc., an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. See the description in Revelation 21 & 22, etc.
It is the place of unceasing enjoyment. The sun will never go down — the crown will never fade, etc.
It is freely given, "I will give it to you." "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
2. The Journey."We are journeying to the place of which the LORD said, 'I will give it to you.'"
Their journey started from Mount Sinai, where the law was given.
(1.) Just so, our spiritual journey commences by conviction of sin, produced by the application of the law to the conscience of the sinner by the Spirit. He trembles at the foot of Sinai.
(2.) The convictions of the law drive him to the Cross of Christ, where by faith he is forgiven and accepted in the Beloved. There he is endued with the spirit of a Christian pilgrim, and from that cross he hopes for a kingdom everlasting. There he begins to run the race that is set before him, looking unto Jesus, etc.
(3.) This leads to union with God's people — the company of heaven-bound travelers.
(4.) This journey implies advancement in spirituality, etc. etc.
(5.) It journey implies that they have God for their Guide, going before them, providentially and graciously, in a pillar of cloud by day, etc. Exodus 33:14.
(6.) This journey terminates at death, the end of the race — the close of the day of life — the cessation of the Christian warfare; and it is followed by "a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!" 2 Peter 1:11
II. It Is the Duty of Christians to Invite Others to Journey with Them.So Moses acted. He gave Hobab a kind invitation to cast in his lot with the people of Israel, promising to "do him good." He tells us on what grounds they had to expect good things. "We are not going on an uncertainty, after we know not what; nor yet like marauders, for the sake of plunder; but we are journeying to the place," etc. Moses empathetically renewed his invitation, verse 31, and promises that Hobab should fare as they did, verse 32. Observe:
1. Christians have divine authority to invite others to go with them. "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Revelation 22:17
2. Christians are deeply affected with the consequences of walking in the broad way that leads to destruction.
3. Christians are aware of their own responsibility; for they are the lights of the world, laborers together with God. They must give an account of their stewardship.
4. Christians therefore use all means in their power to save men. They invite again and again — the members of their family, their friends, etc. "Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, they persuade men," by personal entreaty — by holy example. They say to the young — to the old, "Come you with us," etc.
III. The Reasons Assigned for a Compliance with this Request.These are two:
1. The promise of mutual good. "Come with us, and we will do you good." Christians do good, especially to the household of faith — by encouragement, sympathy, instruction, prayer, distributing to the necessities of saints.
2. The Divine regard for the Church. "The Lord has spoken," etc. Hence the numerous declarations of his love to the Church — his watchful providential care — his exceeding great and precious promises of support here, and glory hereafter.
The good things which he has spoken do not relate to the present world. If they did, many would be willing to go, who now are not disposed. The blessings sought by Christians are far superior to any of these, as the fruits of Canaan were superior to the briers of the wilderness. All earthly things are mixed with sorrow, but those in prospect are without alloy. Earthly things are given sparingly, but this "good" is unbounded. "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:18
Again, though the "good" things promised do not relate to the present world — yet neither are they wholly confined to the eternal world, and you will not have to wait until death before you enjoy them. "Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." 1 Timothy 4:8
Israel had their cloudy pillar by day, etc. They also had their manna in the wilderness — and so have we, even that living bread, etc. We enjoy good things in this life, the pardon of sin, and peace with God. "Now are you the sons of God," etc. "Come with us, and we will do you good."
IV. The Manner in Which this Invitation Must Be Accepted.Sinners must see their danger, renounce the world, choose God for their portion, and his people for their companions, etc. etc. "Come with us, and we will do you good."
Lastly, What Answer Will You Give To This Invitation?
1. Some give a direct negative, as Hobab did at first, "I will not go." The wicked through the pride of his heart, will not seek after God. Some, like Ephraim, are joined to idols, and cannot give them up. Is this your answer? "I will not go." Then you must perish in the wilderness of sin!
2. Some are deterred by pride and shame. They think the people of God beneath them. Or what will the world and their present companions say, if they profess Christ?
3. Some are deterred by the severe trials of the way. But God will be your guide, and he will support you in the severest trials.
4. Some are convinced of the necessity and importance of this journey to Heaven, but they procrastinate, like Felix, "As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said: That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you." Acts 24:25
5. Some are willing to go, but have not counted the cost. This was the case with many of Christ's followers, who set out, but turned back, and walked no more with him, John 6:66.
6. A few have resolved to go. Like Ruth, nothing shall hinder them. The good work has commenced in their souls. The people are willing in the day of Christ's power. They will go, and like Paul, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!" Philippians 3:8. Ruth 1:16; Hebrews 11:25, 26.
Awful consideration! Many will never go. Atheists, infidels, lovers of pleasures which are but for a season, and multitudes of others, will never commence this journey. The god is the world. They despise the Gospel, and esteem it as a cunningly devised fable. So they would have it. Alas! they will never see Heaven!