Book of Numbers is especially valuable for its historicity. Moses
chronicled nearly forty years of wilderness journeying: the census, the
camp, the Tabernacle, ordaining Levites, Passover and other ordinances.
He reports rebellions, adventures, war, divine interventions and many
miracles. Finally, Moses gave instructions for conquering the land of
Canaan, including cities for Levites. Anybody who calls this a myth is
a hardened skeptic. What other ancient nation has a better documented
Numbers 36:13 - "These are the
commandments and the
judgments, which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses unto the
children of Israel."
God promised Abraham to "make of thee a great nation." At Mount Sinai, Moses counted every male Israelite older than twenty, who was fit for war. There were 603,550 warriors! From only seventy elders who migrated to Egypt, God raised up this powerful infant nation of at least two million souls! God will keep His promise to you, too. Believe it.
Numbers 1:2 - "Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls."
We often skim over scriptures that list the "begats," because it is difficult to appreciate the seemingly endless listings of family genealogies. However, many detailed and extensive Bible prophecies are given to specific tribes and families, including tribal inheritances, etc. It is important to establish pedigrees to prove that prophecy is truly fulfilled and that claims are legitimate.
Numbers 1:18 - "And they assembled all the congregation together... and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls."
Instead of taking the firstborn from every tribe, God took the sons of Levi (including Moses and Aaron) for the ministry of the tabernacle. They were not added to the census. They received no inheritance as the other tribes. God was their inheritance. They encamped around the tabernacle. Inside the Promised Land, they dwelled in suburbs of other tribes' cities, similar to Jesus, our Priest, Who had "not where to lay His head." They pitched the tabernacle. Jesus built the church.
Numbers 1:47 - "But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them."
Judah Shall First Set Forth
When Israel pitched camp around the tabernacle, they pitched three tribes on each side. Every tribe posted their standard, their ensign for all to see; three on the east, three on the west, three on the north, three on the south. Judah, the lead tribe, "shall first set forth." This lead tribe would eventually produce Jesus, the captain of our salvation, lion of the tribe of Judah.
Numbers 2:9 - "All that were numbered in the camp of Judah were an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth."
The Firstborn are Mine
God claims the firstborn of every generation. If the firstborn is unsuitable, God may sanctify another as firstborn. Jacob (Israel) wrestled God for firstborn status. God made David (youngest son of Jesse) His firstborn (Psalm 89:27.) Joseph's younger son, Ephraim, was called "firstborn." Paul called the entire church "firstborn," (Hebrews 12:23.) We are blessed above men to be His firstborn.
Numbers 3:13 - "Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast."
Gershon, Kohath and Merari
Moses' great-grandfather, Levi, begat three sons: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. These comprised the Levitical priesthood. Aaron, the High Priest, and his sons were Kohathites. Kohath's other descendants transported and set-up the most holy furnishings of the tabernacle. Gershon's descendants were responsible for the curtains, cords and hangings. Merari's descendants attended the boards, bars, pillars and sockets of the tabernacle. God loves to use families.
Numbers 4:3 - "...From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation."
Confession with Restitution
Sometimes it is not
good enough just to say "I'm sorry." Sometimes we owe a debt that must
be repaid. God instructed Moses to tell the people not only to repay
the principal of the trespass, but to add a fifth-part penalty - a
twenty percent surcharge. Words alone are worthless if your deeds
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."
The Law of Jealousies
If a man suspected that his wife had been unfaithful to him, he could bring her to the priest for judgment. The priest gave her a concoction of bitter water to drink. If certain symptoms developed, she was deemed guilty. If not, she was declared innocent and freed from the accusation. Immorality is wrong, but so is a false accusation. God intervened, and put an end to the matter. God always knows the truth from the lies.
Numbers 5:28 - "And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed."
The Nazarite Vow
A Nazarite is one who is consecrated unto the Lord ("nazir" - consecrated). It has nothing to do with the city of Nazareth. Saying "I am a Nazarite," launched a period of 1) abstinence from the fruit of the vine, 2) avoidance from touching the dead, and 3) unshaven hair. At the end of the vow, the hair was shaved and offered as a sacrifice. The general purpose was to consecrate to the Lord during times of distress, affliction, or earnest prayer.
Numbers 6:8 - "All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD."
could bless anyone without needing an intercessor. Nevertheless, He
instructed the priests to pronounce blessings on the people. Men of God
are beneficial to us.
Numbers 6:23-27 - "Speak unto Aaron and
unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of
Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD
make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift
up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put
my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them."
The Voice from the Mercy Seat
They finally finished setting up and consecrating the tabernacle and
priesthood. The tribes brought six wagons full of offerings. Sacrifices
were made on the new altar. Then, Moses entered in, and God spoke to
him from the Mercy Seat. Completed acts of obedience lead to great
communion with God.
Numbers 7:89 - "...when Moses was gone into
the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the
voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon
the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto
The Golden Candlestick with its seven lamps represented the seven spirits of God in the seven churches which were to come (Revelation 1:20). It was made of beaten gold. This is contrasted to a molten (molded) work. Saints of God are not molded. They are beaten into shape. They, like their Savior, are made perfect by the things they suffer.
Numbers 8:4 - "And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick."
Keeping the Passover
Certain men came to Moses because they had been exposed to dead bodies and were defiled. They wanted to know if God wanted them to keep the Passover in that condition. Moses talked to the Lord, and God said that everyone should take the Passover, even the strangers in their midst. Anyone who "forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people," (v. 13). Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.
Numbers 9:2 - "Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season."
Rise up, LORD!
Moses prayed each time they journeyed. The priests carried the Ark of the Covenant ahead of the people, so Moses besought the Lord to dispel His enemies along the way. When they camped, Moses welcomed the Glory back into their midst. Let God arise, and His enemies be scattered.
Numbers 10:35-36 - "And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel."
The Fire of the Lord
God does not like to hear His people complaining. He likes to hear them praising, worshiping and giving thanks. When Israel complained, God set their camps on fire. Moses made intercessory prayer, and God put the fires out.
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. And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched."
God Responds Dramatically to Moses' Prayer
Numbers 11 records a dramatic exchange between Moses and God. The people were tired of manna and wanted meat. Moses was desperate for help. God vindicated Moses with two great miracles. He anointed seventy elders to prophesy over the people, then sent TONS of quail for thirty days.
Numbers 11:30 - "And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel. And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp,...as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth."
Prayer for Divine Healing
Miriam and Aaron spoke against their brother, Moses, criticizing him and challenging his authority. God Himself called all three to the Tabernacle door, where He came in a pillar of a cloud. God was angry, and vindicated Moses, smiting Miriam with leprosy. Aaron panicked and pleaded with Moses to have mercy. Moses prayed for God to heal Miriam, and seven days later, she was healed. This first occurrence proves for all time that effective prayer can and will bring divine healing.
Numbers 12:13 - "And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee."
The Grapes of Eshcol
Have you ever seen a cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it? That is what the spies found at Eshcol. To this day, one of the great symbols in Israel is artwork depicting Joshua and Caleb carrying those grapes. The Bible does not say it was Joshua or Caleb, but the posterity certainly belongs to men of great faith.
Numbers 13:23 - "And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff."
An Evil Report
At Kadesh Barnea, Moses sent one leader from each tribe to do surveillance throughout the Promised Land prior to its conquest. Except for Joshua and Caleb, they were all afraid to invade it. Even worse, they spread their fears throughout Israel. They sabotaged the work of God. They paid dearly. Learn from their mistake. Spread faith - not fear.
Numbers 13:32 - "And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof."
Doubt is its own punishment. Nothing good ever came of doubt. No monuments or memorials are built to doubt. When the twelve Hebrew spies surveyed the land of milk and honey, they doubted they could take it - and they DIDN'T! Whether you believe you can or can't, you are right. If you see yourself as a loser, that is what the record will eventually show.
Numbers 13:33 - "And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."
Moses Argues with God and Wins
Poor Moses sent twelve spies to survey the Promised Land, but only Joshua and Caleb had faith. The others turned all Israel against invading, provoking God to disinherit Israel and start anew with Moses' family. But Moses powerfully interceded. God spared them. Intercession sometimes requires heroic determination.
Numbers 14:15 - "Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness."
Earth Filled With God's Glory
Modern skeptics dismiss the Bible as a self-serving Jewish fabrication bent on legitimizing the nation of Israel and discrediting its neighboring nations. They deny that it was divinely inspired. But make no mistake about it: Moses did not invent God. God invented Moses and all the rest of us. Men have always doubted God. The fearful spies doubted the land could be conquered, but God swore that He would eventually conquer the whole world without them.
Numbers 14:21 - "But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD."
Too Late for Repentance
God sentenced every Israelite over the age of twenty (except Joshua and Caleb) to wander in the wilderness forty years because they doubted they could conquer the Promised Land. Everyone panicked and suddenly wanted to repent and go on to war. But it was too late. God's mind was made up. Be careful lest it happen to you.
Numbers 14:40 - "...And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies."
God Looks Forward
Numbers 14 chronicles the miserable failure of the men of Israel to move into the Promised Land. God rejected them in sore displeasure. Amazingly, Numbers 15 opens with God saying, "WHEN YE COME INTO THE LAND..." followed by a list of offerings, sacrifices, and feasts that He wanted Israel AND the strangers in their midst to perform. God quickly bypassed the failures of one generation and began fulfilling His promises in the next.
Numbers 15:2 - "...say unto them, When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you, ...thus shall it be done..."
Respect Not Their Offering
Korah, Dathan and Abiram led an epic rebellion of 250 powerful men against Moses. They intended to overthrow Moses. It was a frightful occasion. Moses ordered them to appear with incense at the door of the Tabernacle, then he prayed God not to favor them. God declared He would destroy Korah and company. Moses warned the people to separate themselves from Korah. The earth opened and swallowed Korah's household alive. Fire fell from heaven and consumed all the 250 rebels.
Numbers 16:15 - "And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering."
Declaring the Mighty Works of God
This does not look like a prayer, but Moses declared a miracle against Korah and 250 rebels. Without knowing how God would judge them, Moses declared an earthquake, and it happened!
Numbers 16:30,32 - "But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. ...And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah."
Aaron's Rod That Budded
Korah and his company tried to usurp Aaron's priesthood. God killed 250 of them. But Israel accused Moses, saying, "Ye have killed the people of the Lord." God told every tribe to lay a wooden rod on the ground. Overnight, the rod that budded would testify to which tribe God chose. God eventually vindicates His chosen.
Numbers 17:8 - "And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds."
Covenant of Salt
Every meat offering made in the tabernacle was to be seasoned with salt. Salt is a natural preservative. It is contrasted with leavening, which was forbidden in sacrifices. Leavening stirs up and agitates undesirable qualities over time, fermenting and spoiling things. Salt preserves and purifies, inhibiting corruption, even disease. When God makes covenant with His people, it is with salt and purity - nothing about it is corrupt.
Numbers 18:19 - "All the heave offerings of the holy things, ...have I given thee, ...by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD..."
Tithes for Ministers
Abraham paid a tenth of his earnings to Mechizedek the Priest. Jacob vowed to pay tithe continually. Moses called the tithe "holy unto the Lord," (Leviticus 27:30). Israel paid tithes to the Levites, and Levites tithed to the High Priest. God appointed tithes to support the ministry.
Numbers 18:26 - "Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe."
The Ashes of the Red Heifer
The Lord ordered a spotless red heifer to be sacrificed and burned, and its ashes mixed with water to create a "holy water," to sprinkle, for purification, on people and places defiled by touching the dead. In modern times, this purification will be necessary before a newly built third Temple can be dedicated. A red heifer is now being raised in Israel for this purpose. It is a type of Christ.
Numbers 19:9,10 - "...gather up the ashes of the heifer, ...for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin. ...for a statute forever."
Speak to the Rock
The people needed water. God told Moses to speak to the rock and it would give water. In frustration, Moses smote the rock twice. It gave water, but Moses angered God for showing unbelief to Israel. God forbade Moses to enter the Promised Land because of it. The works of the flesh hinder the works of the Spirit. Trust God for your miracle, not brute force.
Numbers 20:8 - "Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water."
God forbade Aaron the High Priest to enter Canaan because of the golden calf episode. As forty years of wandering came to a close, God told Moses to anoint Aaron's son, Eleazar, as his successor. Moses had clothed Aaron in priestly garments long ago. Now he would strip him and give them to Eleazar. God gives. God takes away. We are all expendable. Make the most of your calling while you have time.
Numbers 20:28 - "...Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount."
Enemies Cannot Succeed
In one chapter, three wars are documented. In the wilderness journey, Canaanites fought Israel, taking hostages. But Israel fought back and destroyed them at Hormah. Sihon and the Amorites, followed by Og, king of Bashan fought against Israel, too, but were soundly defeated. The enemies of God's people often launch unprovoked attacks, but God will never let it go unanswered. Sooner or later, all God's enemies will be defeated. Stay on God's side!
Numbers 21:35 - "So they smote him, ...and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land."
The story of the Prophet Balaam and his dealings with Balak, king of Moab, is an unusually long story about a man of God being bribed to side with God's enemies. The world and Satan will pay any price to get you to approve their wrong-doing, and betray God or His people. Men quit their convictions and good judgment, to become fools. It happens every day. Don't let it happen to you.
Numbers 22:12 - "And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed."
king of the Moabites, tried to bribe the prophet Balaam to curse Israel
and bless Moab. Balaam refused. Balak raised the bribe until Balaam
agreed to pray for him. God was furious. Balaam's donkey rebuked him
and an angel drew a sword against him. Balaam was soon killed by his
own troops during wartime. Eleven times the Bible speaks disparagingly
of Balaam. Learn a lesson. Don't curse what God has blessed, or bless
what God has cursed.
Numbers 23:2 - "...and Balak
and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram."
A Star and a Sceptre
Balaam angered God when he capitulated to Balak, king of the Moabites. Nevertheless, his prophetic gift still operated, and he could see the future of Israel under God's blessing. He saw, far into the future, a Star and a Sceptre - some say a reference to David, but more accurately to Messiah Himself. About 3400 years ago, Balaam could see the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Numbers 24:17 - "I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel."
Covenant of Everlasting Priesthood
Before entering Canaan, many Israelites committed whoredoms with Moabite women, who enticed them to worship their god, Baalpeor. God told Moses to slaughter the whoremongers and idolaters. Even as Moses began, Phinehas (Eleazar's son) caught an Israelite taking a Moabite woman into a tent. With a javelin, Phinehas zealously slew them both. God told Moses to reward Phinehas with a covenant of "everlasting priesthood."
Numbers 25:13 - "...he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel."
Inheriting Your Portion
Moses numbered the men of Israel to determine how the Promised Land would be apportioned once they arrived there. Joshua and Caleb were the only survivors from those who had been twenty years and older at Kadesh Barnea. The younger generation who had NOT sinned received the rich rewards their fathers foolishly lost. If you won't claim God's promises, somebody else will!
Numbers 26:53 - "...To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him."
Praying About Legal Matters
God will show you how to resolve a legal matter. Moses numbered the men of each tribe just before they were to go over Jordan. The land would be apportioned accordingly. Several women complained, because their fathers died without sons to inherit. They wanted an inheritance. Moses prayed and God showed him a plan that satisfied everyone.
Numbers 27:4 - "Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father. And Moses brought their cause before the LORD."
Prayer for a Successor
Moses would soon die, so he asked God to provide a new leader for Israel. God selected Joshua. Moses laid hands on him before the priest and congregation. God will answer you, too.
Numbers 27:15-17 - "And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd."
Immediately after making Joshua the new leader of Israel, Moses repeated several important commandments concerning offerings, sacrifices, Sabbaths, and feast days. It might have been easy to neglect their service to God while busily making their new homes in the Promised Land. That is why we need a man of God to remind us to fulfill our duties to God.
Numbers 28:2 - "Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering, and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire, for a sweet savour unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season."
The Sabbaths and Feasts of Israel were generally referred to as convocations. They were "called out" to come together for each event. Once each year, the entire nation was called to the "Holy Convocation," which was a week-long time of fasting and sacrificing for their sins. In that tradition, the modern church would do well to come together annually for fasting and prayer.
Numbers 29:12 - "And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work, and ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days."
Vowing Unto The Lord
God commanded that a man fulfill his vows unto the Lord. If a young girl made a vow, it could be confirmed or voided by her father. If a married woman made a vow, it could be confirmed or voided by her husband. A single woman had to fulfill her vows. God requires us to perform our promises.
Numbers 30:2 - "If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth."
Spoiling the Midianites
After Sarah died, Abraham married Keturah, who had a son named Midian. His descendants dwelled among Lot's descendants, the Moabites. Both tribes became idolatrous pagans. The Midianites and Moabites solicited the prophet Balaam to curse Israel and bless them. God told Moses to avenge Israel of the Midianites. Israel warred victoriously over them and brought back spoils in great abundance. A precedent was set. God will avenge His saints of their enemies. Jesus will divide the spoils of the whole world with His saints someday (Isaiah 53:12).
Numbers 31:2 - "Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites..."
The Curse of Holding Back
The tribes of Reuben and Gad loved the pasturelands east of Jordan for their cattle. They wanted to settle there. Moses consented, but he compared them to their fathers who failed God at Kadesh Barnea. Centuries later, they were the first tribes to apostasize and be taken captive into obscurity. DON'T STOP SHORT of the Promised Land!
Numbers 32:5 - "...let this land be given unto thy servants... and bring us not over Jordan....And Moses said ...wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?"
The Wilderness Journal
In Numbers 33, Moses documented every leg of Israel's journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, one of the most important events in human history. Many ancient prophecies were fulfilled, but more prophecies lingered. They must decide the outcome. Our journey with God requires unending diligence.
Numbers 33:50-56 - "And the LORD spake unto Moses saying, ...ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. ...But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants ...I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them."
The Borders of Israel
God told Moses "this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan." Then He meticulously defined the borders on the North, South, East and West. It is all right there in Numbers 34. 3500 years ago, Israel took possession of the Promised Land in an irrevocable covenant with Almighty God. No king or kingdom on earth will EVER get God's title deed to the Holy Land. Let God's enemies be warned. God will fight for Israel.
Numbers 34:12 - "...this shall be your land with the coasts thereof round about."
Cities of Refuge
God gave Israel six "cities of refuge" where accused murderers could run for asylum and find safety until they could get a fair hearing. Even today, Jesus is longsuffering; not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Run to Him.
Numbers 35:11-12 - "...ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment."
Marrying Within The Tribe
Some families had no male heirs, and Moses gave the inheritance to the daughters. But if they married outside their tribe, the tribal inheritance would remove to another tribe. To prevent this, Moses taught the women to marry within their own tribe. The New Testament version of this is "be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers."
Numbers 36:8 - "And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, ...Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe."
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