The lesson from the numbers in Numbers

Numbers must have the least appealing name of all the Bible books. And, to be honest, it isn’t that much about numbers compared to some other books with rather extensive lists of genealogies. But there are two numbers in Numbers that are very important. They are important because of the vast amount of time that elapses between the two numbers, and yet with little numerical change taking place over that period of time.

You remember how the LORD punished Israel with forty years in the desert because of their rebellion against Him. The purpose of the forty years was for the entire rebellious generation to pass away, except Joshua and Caleb. Numbers 14 tells the story.

But, before all that, in chapter 1, God calls for a census to take place – a numbering of the people. In Numbers 1:46 we read that the grand total was 603,550 men able to go to war. In chapter 14 the great rebellion takes place, and thirty eight years later, nearing the end of the death penalty period, another census is taken. Because of the great sins recorded in the book of Numbers (chapters 11, 14, and 25), one expects a rather small number of people to still be representing God’s people. One expects a story like that of Exodus 32:10 where God almost killed the entire nation to start over with one man.

And yet, the census at the end of the forty years brings that grand total of men able to go to war to 601,730. That is not even a half percent decrease! God didn’t destroy them and start over with one man, God also didn’t just keep a remnant, instead, God took the whole nation into the Promised Land.

Our sins are many, and yet the Lord shows us such mercy and grace too. Do your own numbers comparison. Count your sins, count your blessings. If we feel the Lord failed us even once, we doubt, accuse, and complain; yet when we fail the Lord, He gives grace.

Isaiah 55:6-9
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The lesson from the numbers in Numbers
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