Numbers ~ The First Census

Part of Chronological Bible Study more Here if you wish to follow along

Book of Numbers 
Take a census of the whole community of Israel by families and households. List every man by name 

This book takes its name from the fact that it contains the account of the two census of the congregation of Israel. The original Hebrew title, "in the wilderness," is greatly to be preferred, as the book is certainly more a vital history of the events of the period of wanderings than a catalogue of statistics.

The Book of Numbers reminds believers of the spiritual warfare in which they are engaged, the service and walk of God's people.
Because of their rebellion (and especially the nation's refusal to undertake the conquest of Canaan), Israel was in breach of covenant. The fourth book of the Pentateuch presents a sobering reality: The God who had entered into covenant with Abraham (Ge 15; 17), who had delivered his people from bondage in the exodus (Ex 14-15), who had brought Israel into covenant with himself as his "treasured possession" (Ex 19; see especially Ex 19:5) and who had revealed his holiness and the gracious means of approaching him (Lev 1-7) was also a God of wrath. His wrath extended to his errant children as well as to the enemy nations of Egypt and Canaan.
Even Moses, the great prophet and servant of the Lord, was not exempt from God's wrath when he disobeyed God. Ch. 20, which records his error, begins with the notice of Miriam's death (20:1) and concludes with the record of Aaron's death (20:22-29). Here is the passing of the old guard. Those whom God has used to establish the nation are dying before the nation has come into its own.

Summary of the Book of Numbers~~
Most of the events of the Book of Numbers take place in the wilderness, primarily between the second and fortieth years of the wandering of the Israelites. The first 25 chapters of the book chronicle the experiences of the first generation of Israel in the wilderness, while the rest of the book describes the experiences of the second generation. The theme of obedience and rebellion followed by repentance and blessing runs through the entire book, as well as the entire Old Testament.

The theme of the holiness of God is continued from the book of Leviticus into the book of Numbers, which reveals God's instruction and preparation of His people to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. The importance of the Book of Numbers is indicated by its being referred to in the New Testament many times. The Holy Spirit called special attention to Numbers in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12. The words "all these things happened to them for examples" refers to the sin of the Israelites and God’s displeasure with them.

In Romans 11:22, Paul speaks about the "goodness and severity of God."
The severity of God is seen in the death of the rebellious generation in the wilderness, those who never entered the Promised Land. The goodness of God is realized in the new generation. God protected, preserved, and provided for these people until they possessed the land. This reminds us of the justice and love of God, which are always in sovereign harmony.

Is God finished with the nation as a whole (Ro 11:1)? Are his promises a thing of the past?
In one of the most remarkable sections of the Bible -- the account of Balaam, the pagan diviner (chs. 22 - 24) -- the reply is given.

The Lord, working in a providential and direct way, proclaims his continued faithfulness to his purpose for his people despite their unfaithfulness to him. Balaam is an internationally known prophet who shares the pagan belief that the God of Israel is like any other deity who might be manipulated by acts of magic or sorcery.

When Balaam first encounters the one true God in visions, and in the narrative of the journey on the donkey (ch. 22), he begins to learn that dealing with the true God is fundamentally different from anything he has ever known. When he attempts to curse Israel at the instigation of Balak king of Moab, Balaam finds his mouth unable to express the curse he desires to pronounce. Instead, from his lips come blessings on Israel and curses on its enemies (chs. 23 - 24).
In his seven prophetic oracles, Balaam proclaims God's great blessing for his people (see 23:20). Though the immediate enjoyment of this blessing will always depend on the faithfulness of his people, the ultimate realization of God's blessing is sure -- because of the character of God (see 23:19).
Numbers reaffirms the ongoing purposes of God. Despite his judgment on his rebellious people, God is still determined to bring Israel into the land of promise. His blessing to Israel rests in his sovereign will.
The teaching of the book has lasting significance for Israel and for the church (Ro 15:41Co 10:6,11). God does display his wrath even against his errant people, but his grace is renewed as surely as is the dawn and his redemptive purpose will not be thwarted

Key Verses:

Numbers 5:7, " Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed."

Numbers 6:24-26, "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."

Numbers 11:1,” And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

Numbers 12:6-8, "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions; I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

Numbers 18:20, " And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel."

Numbers 19:20, But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean.

Numbers 14:21,” But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

Numbers 23:19,”
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

 What does God teach in The book of Numbers?

The Book of Numbers is a lesson in the importance of trust and obedience. The Israelites frequently failed to trust and obey God in the hours of their trials, and consequently God postponed His blessing. Most of them never enjoyed the good things that God had for them. Obedience to God is essential on our part.
The book also teaches us that the failures of His chosen human instruments do not frustrate God’s plans any more than the opposition of His enemies. The Israelites’ unfaithfulness to God did not turn Him back from faithfully carrying out His commitments to His chosen people. We see in Numbers how God deals with His people when they fail to trust and obey Him. On the one hand He does not permit them to enjoy what He has promised. On the other hand He works with them to prepare them to be stronger when they face the same tests again. Where their sin abounds, His grace abounds even more greatly.

Sin, unbelief and especially rebellion reap the judgment of God.
First Corinthians specifically says—and Hebrews 3:7-4:13 strongly implies—that these events were written as examples for believers to observe and avoid. We are not to “set our hearts on evil things” (v. 6), or be sexually immoral (v. 8), or put God to the test (v. 9) or gripe and complain (v. 10).

Just as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness 40 years because of their rebellion, so too does God sometimes allow us to wander away from Him and suffer loneliness and lack of blessings when we rebel against Him. But God is faithful and just, and just as He restored the Israelites to their rightful place in His heart, He will always restore Christians to the place of blessing and intimate fellowship with Him if we repent and return to Him (1 John 1:9).
God’s demand for holiness in His people is completely and finally satisfied in Jesus Christ, who came to fulfill the law on our behalf (Matthew 5:17).

The concept of the promised Messiah pervades the book. The story in chapter 19 of the sacrifice of the red heifer “without defect or blemish” prefigures Christ, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish who was sacrificed for our sins.
The image of the bronze snake lifted up on the pole to provide physical healing (chapter 21) also prefigures the lifting up of Christ, either upon the cross, or in the ministry of the Word, that whoever looks to Him by faith may have spiritual healing.

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