Reading through the Book of Numbers

I hope you are with me in the Legacy Reading Plan. If you are, you are somewhere in February between Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I just finished Leviticus so I’m starting the fourth book of Moses called “Numbers” and the context for Numbers is that the Egyptians had enslaved the Hebrews for 400 years and now they’re finally free in the Sinai wilderness and they’re en route to the land that God had promised to Abraham and his descendants.

 

And look, here you have people who had directly experienced the sovereign power of God in being delivered from bondage in Egypt, and yet they repeatedly failed to maintain their covenant relationship with God and as a result, all but two of the Exodus generation, Joshua and Caleb, forfeit their inheritance in the Promised Land and now lie buried in the sands of the Sinai Peninsula. Numbers is a book of wanderings. It derives its name from two Israelite censuses, the numbering of the generation of Exodus in Mt. Sinai in Numbers 1 and the numbering of the generation that grew up in the wilderness and conquered Canaan on the plains of Moab. You see that in Numbers 26. And most of the book describes Israel’s experience of rebellion and then judgment during their wilderness wanderings as God patiently instructs them on how he should be worshipped. Israel’s disobedience transformed, this is so incredible to me every time I read through this, transformed an 11-day journey into a forty-year saga.

 

Of course, the lessons are for us today. They’re clear. They’re concise. Well it may be necessary to pass through wilderness experiences. You don’t have to stay there, and the stories in Numbers are exciting to say the least. You’re going to encounter Balaam. Balaam was the Judas of the Old Testament. Like Judas, he came close enough to the truth to actually appear sincere. In reality though, like Judas, Balaam was motivated by greed, and he renounced the God who spoke and the universe leapt into existence. Of course he was a professional magician. He worked for pagan kings to conjure up the power of the gods on their behalf and he tried to manipulate the God of Israel as well and he did that for his own purposes, and when that didn’t work, he tried to manipulate the Israelites and for that he is condemned roundly throughout the Scriptures. You read about him in 2 Peter and in Jude and Revelation 2. He was treacherous, but the stories are exciting!

 

As you read through Numbers, you’re not only going to read incredibly significant stories, but stories that will deeply impact your life. Think about wandering in the wilderness, especially if you have been liberated from bondage in Egypt, and still while you’re on your path to freedom, you begin grumbling and you end up no longer in bondage in Egypt, but in bondage to your own grumblings and lust and selfishness. The lessons are poignant and profound. If you’re in the reading plan, you are in an exciting part of the Bible that has direct application to your life. If you’re not in the reading plan, get the Legacy Reading Plan, you’ll learn to read through the Bible in books as opposed to bits as together we tackle the problem of biblical illiteracy.

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