Saturday, June 8, 2019

Getting the Big Picture with the OT Book of Numbers

Many Christians have a hard time getting hold of the big picture in the book of Numbers. What is Numbers about? Why did the Holy Spirit inspire this book and include it in Scripture?

The generation that followed Moses out of Egypt had perished in the wilderness because of unbelief. Their children now had to enter the Promised Land and fight in a holy war. Under the Spirit’s inspiration, Moses called the second generation of Israel to arms as the holy army of God. He did this in three steps:

1. Constituting the First Generation Army (Numbers 1:1–10:10)

The book begins with the formation of the first generation army and the regulations of holiness it had to observe. The tribes were arranged in proper order with the tabernacle and its services placed in the center (2:1–9:14).

2. Failures in the March (Numbers 10:11–25:18)

The second portion focuses on the march from Sinai. In their early travels, the people grumbled against God and Moses (11:1–12:16). The army lost heart for the conquest and went through a period of wandering (13:1–20:13). Graciously, God protected the Israelites despite their continuing rebellion (20:14–25:18). Moses reported these events to encourage his readers to be grateful for God’s preserving grace, and to warn them against imitating the failures of the first generation.

3. Constituting the Second Generation Army (Numbers 26:1–36:13)

God showed mercy to the new generation as it was counted and organized like the first army (26:1–27:11). Moses recorded these events to teach his readers about God’s mercy in re-establishing them as His army, their responsibilities for war, and life in the land after victory.

The New Testament tells us that Christians have also been called to serve as God’s holy army. In Christ, we no longer fight a physical holy war, but we still wage a battle of life and death.

It is easy to become discouraged and give up the fight, but the book of Numbers teaches us how to succeed in our spiritual war.

Read the book of Numbers again with this big picture in mind. You will discover more than just a few interesting stories. Numbers contains countless practical lessons for your daily battles as a soldier in Christ’s army.