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Background: Numbers

August 14, 2009

This is the fourth book authored by Moses and it documents the life and travels of Israel from Mt. Sinai to the plains of Moab on the NE side of the Dead Sea. It covers a time period of about 38 years compared to Genesis’ 2300 years and Exodus’ 145 years. Israel has been at Mt Sinai approximately one year building the Tabernacle. Moses has been documenting God’s instructions including a manual for the Levites. It has been a time of building, writing, and instruction defining genuine worship and righteous behavior so that Israel will be able to glorify God among all the nations.

The most memorable events recorded in Numbers is Israel’s lack of faith and lack of desire to enter the Promised Land, their subsequent 38 year wandering in the desert, and Balaam’s blessing of Israel against the wishes of Balak.

Theologically, we see that a faithless rebellious people are not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Even the humble God-servant Moses was denied access because of his disobedience. In Numbers we see that the unfaithful are destroyed and the faithful are rewarded. The unfaithful lose their direction and vision whereas the faithful have direction and insight. The faithful depend on God whereas the unfaithful depend on man. If you sense you are wandering aimlessly, check your compass and change direction toward the Lord.

For more information, refer to the NIV Expositor’s Commentary edited by Frank Gaeberlein. It probably has more background information about Numbers than you want to know.

Consider this:

Israel has been Called Out to be Called Home.

They have been Called Out of Egypt.

They have been Committed and Consecrated to the Lord at Mt. Sinai.

They will be Commissioned to serve the Lord at Kadesh Barnea.

God’s Will for Israel is found in the Abrahamic Covenant. It promises:

Descendents [which they now have according to Numbers]

Land [which they need to possess] so that

Spiritual Blessing is possible.

God’s Will simply stated is to:

Know Him [plagues, Passover, & Red Sea experiences]

Grow in Him [desert and Mt. Sinai experiences]

Glorify Him [righteous living in the land of Promise]

The sad story in Numbers is that of Rejection. Israel was:

Redeemed in Exodus,

Reminded in Leviticus,

Rejected in Numbers, and

Restored in Deuteronomy.

Rewarded in Joshua.


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