My honest first thought: With a title like “The Book of Numbers”- you know this chapter in the story of God is going to be a real nail biter 😉 But I know that every book in the Bible serves a great purpose in the metanarrative of who God is and what his purposes are. So it is with the book of Numbers.
In Numbers, we continue to see the gradual fulfillment of the promises that God gave to Abraham those many years ago. Let’s review those promises. According to my blog on Genesis, God promised little ol’ Abe 4 things:
- A land to live in
- A whole lot of descendants
- That the whole world would be blessed because of someone in his family.
In Numbers we see (finally in the very last chapter) each tribe has an inheritance of land as they are poised to enter the Promise Land! We see that though at one time Abraham’s descendants were just a blip on the world wide census (only 70 persons where they entered Egypt (Gen. 46:27)) they are now tallying over 600,000 men-that’s not including women and children. Woah. That’s awesome! Thirdly, God has not forsaken them and even has a real presence via the cloud of fire over the tabernacle. As far as how they are a blessing to the nations…I am not sure how I see that being fulfilled in the Book of Numbers…maybe it’ll come along later. Hopefully it’ll be super obvious (I don’t know-like maybe somehow salvation will be offered to all nations through this nation or something like that! ;))
While reading, I had a couple of thoughts. One,as I aim to read God’s word through with fresh eyes, I was surprised that Moses doesn’t get to enter the Promised Land! He plays such a huge role thus far! He is a friend of God, talks to him face to face, is the most humble man, and is a unique mediator. Yet because of oooone little incident-he can’t enter. I wondered a lot what that day was like. Was Moses mad? Dissapointed? Did he figure that would be the consequences for his actions and do it anyway? Did he ask God for mercy? I also wondered if God would maybe change His mind? Maybe Deuteronomy will come and God will say that Moe CAN enter the land! That would be make sense to me. Right? Moses isn’t really going to come ALL this way and do ALL those things and be SO close with God-to not enter the Land God promised…right? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see ;).
Secondly, even though God was VISIBLY PRESENT to the people of Israel, there is still so much unbelief and subsequently, so much disobedience! What should be seen as gloriously miraculously became oh-so mundane. The lackluster view of God’s presence and his glory led to doubt and sin. I’d say we do the very same thing with the Bible. What should be seen as an incredible gift to mankind–GOD HIMSELF breathe into people words to record so that we could know Him! We, at ANY time, can pick up this book and hear the Words of God, read of the goodness of God, be impressed/enthralled/enamored at the love, justice, and faithfulness of God-yet for so many it collects dust. It’s unimpressive, unimportant, and underused. This very same situation of the miraculous becoming the mundane is what leads US into disbelief and disobedience. We need to pray that God, in this grace, helps us to see the Bible for what it really is. The living, powerful, penetrating Word of God is a most precious gift not to be trivialized nor ignored.
So that’s my take on Numbers. I’m on to Deuteronomy tomorrow. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below with any questions, comments, or concerns! 😀