Bible Order: Numbers 34–36
Chronological Order: Numbers 1–2
New Testament Only: Mark 5:1–20
By The Numbers
The book of Numbers is aptly named. We begin the book with a census and will see another census just a few chapters from the end of the book. There were over 603,000 non-Levite men above the age of 20. Some have calculated the total number of Israelites as over 2.5 million people based on this number. When Jacob went into Egypt there were 75 people. 75 to 2.5 million people in 400 years. God was certainly keeping His promise to greatly multiply Abraham.
There are additional important details related to this census. Later we are going to learn that once the Israelites take position of the Promised Land, the allotment of the land by tribe will be based on the population of that tribe. If your tribe had a lot of people you were going to a lot of land. If your tribe had a limited number of people you were going to receive a limited amount of land.
Toward the end of Numbers another census will be taken and low and behold the number of Israelites will actually have decreased. The decrease is only a couple thousand men but it is significant since they had multiplied so aggressively while in Egypt. The reason for this is what happened between the two censuses. There was a lot of disobedience. Remember yesterday God told us that obedience led to blessing and disobedience led to trouble.
A number of rebellions took place not the least was the decision to not take possession of the Promised Land as God had instructed them to do. The result of this disastrous decision was an additional wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Only one of the men counted in the first census would be counted in the second; Joshua. The punishment for disobedience was a life of desert dwelling. The Promised Land would be for their children.
If you compare the number of the tribes in each of these censuses with the acts of rebellion you’ll see that those tribes that had rebelled saw their numbers decrease while those that were faithful saw their numbers increase. Their disobedience cost them a portion of their inheritance in the Promised Land. What is also interesting is you will see that the tribes bordering disobedient tribes also saw a decrease. Could this have occurred because of the negative influence disobedience can have on those around it?
I have always viewed the Israelites, God’s chosen people, as an example of modern Christians. Having accepted Christ, He goes with us as we wander in the barren wilderness of this world. When it comes time for us to enter into Heaven, the Promised Land, our portion will be based on our obedience or lack thereof. Do you obey God’s call on your life or are you disobedient? Do you allow yourself to be influenced by others who are disobedient?
My friend, if you’ve accepted Christ you will enter the Promised Land. The issue is whether or not your time on this Earth will be spent wandering in a spiritual desert or in a spiritual heaven. Will you obey God by denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following Him; or will you continue to put yourself first and by so doing making yourself last? Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 20:16?
“So the last will be first, and the first last.”
My prayer for you is that you will be spiritually fruitful so that your reward in Heaven will be great!
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 2/14/10)