Thursday, 22 March 2018

Road to Revelation: Numbers

Numbers is the account of the people of Israel in the wilderness and starts like the name suggests; with a numbering of the tribes.  We see how big the family of Israel has become!

Chapters 2-4 detail the organizing of the Levites.  The Levites were the helper tribe for the priests.  They did all the work around the tabernacle and helped the priests fulfill their duties (ch 3: 5-10).

Chapters 5-6 are another grouping of miscellaneous laws.  Chapter 6 is the section which details the Nazerite vows.  It’s weird but will come up again in Judges with Samson (Judges 13).

Back to the Tabernacle and it’s time to dedicate it to the Lord.  Chapters 7-10 list the people involved and the ceremonies undertaken.  This was the second Passover (the first being at the escape from Egypt in Exodus).

The complaining of the people starts in chapter 11 and doesn’t end until... well... never really?? Lol!  Even though the people are ungrateful so and so’s God provides them with quail to go with their manna.

Then the people were close enough to the promised land to explore it and Moses sent the 12 spies into the land.  All the spies except Caleb come back with despair in their hearts.  The land was indeed good, but the people living in the land were powerful.  The people responded with complaining (again) and so only those with faith (Caleb and Joshua) were allowed to enter the land.  The rest of the people were cursed to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation had died.  Key Verse Numbers 14:20-24

Following this account are more laws and attempted mutinies against Moses and the Lord.  Then in chapter 20 a very sad account of the people complaining (no surprises here), and this time Moses had had enough.  He was angry toward the people and his anger led him to sin against the Lord and as a consequence he was also forbidden from entering the promised land.  Noooooooooooo!

The account of Balaam and his donkey (which talked!)  (ch.22) proves to be an important, although strange account.  Balaam was ordered to curse the Israelites by the king of a nation close to the Israelites so that he could defeat them in battle.  However Balaam cannot curse the people and so devised a plan for the king to infiltrate the Israelites with beautiful women and weaken them that way.  Unfortunately Balaam's plan worked and the love Israelite men had for foreign women and their idols were a thorn in Israel’s side for generations, even after the Israelites were in the promised land.

In their wanderings the Israelites rebelled against the Lord again (bronze snake—ch 21), were attacked by other nations (ch 21-22), the people were counted again (ch 26), and Joshua was named as Moses successor (ch 27). 

Despite all the challenges the people of Israel encountered because of their own and others sin the book of Numbers ends on a hopeful note.  The last chapters detail the borders and divisions of the promised land.  God still intends to keep his promises to his people!  They will still make it!

Takeaway:  From one man, Abraham, the people of Israel have grown from a small family into a large nation.  Although the people are faithless, God remains faithful to them and keeps his promises to them (1 John 1:9).  Their children will enter the Promised Land and receive all that he says they will.

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