So let’s recap what we have seen so far  in the Torah story.

God introduces Himself to Abram – with plans to reintroduce Himself to the world. He promises to bless Abram and all of his family after him. He promises to enlarge Abram and increase him on the earth. All Abram has to do is believe God and obey Him.

With God – a promise is a promise.

He continues to fulfill that promise to Abram through subsequent generations… Isaac… Jacob… and eventually into an entire group of slaves. God rescues those slaves through Moses – and begins to position them into receiving the promise. But the people do not follow the example of Abram, their forefather. Instead they grumble and complain and disobey God – choosing their own way above His.

The result is that they wander… and wander… and wander…

 

That is where the book of Numbers picks up. God has these people encamped at the base of Mt. Sinai for 2 years as He instructs them in how to perform the duties of worshiping Him. As we have read, the entire book of Leviticus is a manual of instructions for this purpose. But – there are bigger points involved: God is holy and we must be holy as well. Careful steps must be taken to ensure our sin does not kill us. Sin is bad.

The book of Numbers gets it’s name from the many examples of counting which God has His people engage in. From the initial numbering of the entire nation in chapter 1 – to individually numbering groups and tribes for service – the Israelites are organized for their next step in the journey.

But the real meat of this book is not the numbering… but the 38 years of wandering in the wilderness. In fact, the actually Hebrew name for this book is Bemidbar – which means “in the wilderness”. That title seems to more accurately portray what is being shared in this book.

The first 10 chapters find the Israelites still at the base of Mt. Sinai – where God begins to have Moses organize them into groups and prepare them to leave the mountain and begin their journey through the wilderness. The next 15 chapters accounts for their 38 year journey – riddled with murmuring and complaining , which invites countless problems for these people. The final 10 chapters detail God’s instructions for how they are going to cross the Jordan and begin to take possession of the land that God has promised them.

 

There are many lessons which we can learn from the experiences in the book of Numbers which will help us in our lives today. As you read, notice God’s attention to detail in the initial chapters while numbering the people. Notice how everyone has a job to do and when they all do their particular job, the entire nation moves forward!

After that – take note of the disobedience of God’s people while they journey through the wilderness. How quickly do they forget the miracles that God has performed in their midst and the mighty acts of rescue He has done for them. How quickly they also forget that the very reason they are in the wilderness is because of their disobedience and failure to step into the Promised Land while encamped at Kadesh Barnea. Their choices led to this experience… not God!

As well, notice how patient God is with these people. When they complain for food – He feeds them. Manna, quail, water in abundance is provided for them with basically no effort of their own. Despite their disobedience, God continues to remember the covenant promise He made to Abraham – and cares and provides for the people every day for the 38 years of wandering.

In the end – we can rejoice with the next generation as they gaze across the Jordan and into this land – ready to march across and assume possession of what God has given them. Lessons have been learned – and a new trust is built between God and His people.

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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