Tomorrow we begin reading the book of Numbers and will spend the next 16 days in this book.
Numbers is the book of wanderings. Most of the book describes Israel’s experience in the wilderness. Israel as a nation is still in its infancy as Numbers opens. It has ONLY been 13 months since the Israelites made their exodus out of Egypt.
Amazingly the book of Leviticus covered only ONE month in the Israelites journey (seemed like it would have been a LOT longer!!) The Israelites were camped at the foot of Mount Sinai for TWO years to LISTEN to God (Exodus 19 through Numbers 10).
The Book of Numbers was written by Moses. It has this name from the two numberings of the Israelites – the first was at Mount Sinai (Chapter 1) and the second on the plains of Moab (Chapter 26). The message of this Book reminds believers of the spiritual warfare in which they are engaged, for Numbers is the book of the service and walk of God’s people. It bridges the gap between the Israelites receiving the Law (Exodus and Leviticus) and preparing them to enter the Promised Land (Deuteronomy and Joshua.) The Book of Numbers can be divided into three sections:
- Begins with the old generation (1:1-10:10)
- Moves through a tragic transitional period (10:11-25:18)
- Ends with the new generation at the doorway of the land of Canaan (26-36).
In Numbers, the nation goes through a painful process of testing and maturation where God teaches HIS people the consequences of rebellion and irresponsible choices/decisions. In God’s graciousness He follows the themes of obedience and rebellion with repentance and blessing, as He does throughout the entire Bible. The Book of Numbers stretches over almost 39 YEARS (1444-1405 BC). It records Israel’s movement from the last 20 days at Mount Sinai, the wanderings around Kadesh Barnea, and finally the arrival in the plains of Moab in the 40th year!! The nation transforms from a rabble of ex-slaves into a nation ready to take possession of the Promised Land.
Numbers records the following:
- 2 generations (Chapters 1-14 and 21-36)
- 2 numberings (Chapters 1 and 26)
- 2 journeys (Chapters 10-14 and 21-27)
- 2 sets of instructions (Chapters 5-9 and 28-36)
We will witness both the kindness/goodness and the severity of God (Romans 11:22). It teaches that God’s people can ONLY move forward as they trust and depend on HIM. The theme of divine judgment concerning UNBELIEF is prominent in Numbers, i.e. Israel CHOOSES NOT to believe in the promise of God and the CONSEQUENCE is God’s judgment to keep them wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
The theme of the holiness of God is continued from Leviticus into the Book of Numbers which reveals God’s instruction and preparation of HIS people to enter the Promised Land. The Holy Spirit called special attention to Numbers in 1 Corinthians 10:6. The words “all these things happened to them for examples” refers to the sin of the Israelites and God’s displeasure with them.
The critical turning point is when the 12 spies depart the camp to check out the Promised Land. 10 of the 12 returned to advise an ENTIRE Nation that there was NO way they could take the land (unbelief). Two of the 12 BELIEVE in God’s promise and they will be the ONLY 2 of the 12 who enter the Promised Land!! The FEAR of the 10 robbed them of living out the promise!!
Numbers 6:24-26– “‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ AHHHHH…. WHAT an appropriate verse right here at St Patrick’s Day (no that is not in the Bible… but the song associated with this Bible verse is 🙂
Numbers 12:6-8 — he said, “Listen to my words: “When there is a prophet among you I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
Numbers 14:30-34 “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.” OUCH!!
The Book of Numbers is MUCH more than a book of warning against unbelief and disobedience. It testifies to God’s grace and mercy and points toward the divine grace that will come in Jesus Christ. God’s presence and guidance are evident in the cloud by day and fire by night and in HIS daily provision of food and water … gifts which foreshadow the coming of Christ (Matthew 5:17). Chapter 19 will remind us of God’s demand for holiness as well as the final sacrifice of Jesus Christ when the red heifer without defect or blemish is sacrificed. Divine mercy is seen in HIS provision of the bronze serpent as the means of healing those bitten by poisonous snakes – a picture of the crucifixion of Jesus and the healing, and redemption for all who believe in HIM. In Chapter 24 we will see Balaam’s 4th oracle speaks of the star and scepter who is to rise out of Jacob…. A prophecy of Christ who is called the “morning star” in Revelation 22:16.
See…. I wasn’t kidding when I said we will see Jesus on every page of this wonderful book … the Bible 🙂
Sharing HIS love,