Lately I have been reading through the book of Numbers for my daily time in the Word. It has some great insights to the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness that the book of Exodus does not record. But you get to some chapters and it is all you can do to read through it. It is nothing but names and numbers (which might be the purpose for the name of the book). It makes you wonder why God put that chapter in there. Was He afraid the book would be too interesting if he didn’t throw in a boring chapter or two? Maybe He was testing future Christians to see how diligent we would be to reading All of His inspired Word. Or maybe He was just giving the nerdy readers something to tabulate? I have no clue why he included some of the censuses that He did. What I do know is that it took 2 cups of coffee to make it through chapter 26 of the book of Numbers.
I am not advocating that this chapter was pointless or irrelevant to Scripture, but I believe you have be diligent to see what God was up too and still find ways to worship Him as you trudge through the chapter.
Here are a few thoughts about the 26th chapter of Numbers:
- The chapter begins with obedience. Verse 2 the Lord commands Moses and Eleazar the priest to take a census of all the Israelite community that is 20 years old or older to register them for the army. This is a critical bit of information that is overlooked by believers and nonbelievers alike. God spoke a command and Moses acted immediately. We would do good to emulate this behavior. Obedience is key to drawing near to the Lord.
- The numbers matter. It would be easy to gloss over the all the tribes, clans, and number of people registered, but God was doing something special. He was allowing even the smallest, most insignificant groups to be a part of the nation. There was no alienation of any sect that was deemed unimportant according to man’s standard. If you don’t believe me, look at the granddaughters of Hepher. (Honest moment, I was just looking for a way to make sure I used the guys name that sounds like heifer.) Every person counted toward the total number of fighting individuals who would fight for the nation.
- Size matters. Verse 54 tells us of how the tribes would receive an inheritance in proportion to the the size of the tribe. Larger tribes got larger territories and smaller tribes received smaller territories. Once again, no one was too insignificant to be a part of the inheritance of the Promised Land.
- God always keeps His promises. God had promised Abraham this land. Although, he never possessed it himself; He trusted that God would come through on the promise. It took a really long time, but God was finally going to give this land to the nation of Israel. This chapter is a great reminder that God always keeps His promises. So if He hasn’t fulfilled it yet stay faithful to Him because He will keep His faithful word in due time. Don’t stop believing because it has not happened yet.
- Back to Hepher. Several times in this chapter females were mentioned. This is significant because females were not deemed as important as men in this culture. They were often viewed as a possession or slightly better than cattle. If females are mentioned it is someone’s wife, they did something horrific, or they somehow fit in the story and got an honorable mention. But twice in this chapter daughters were mentioned. The granddaughters of Hepher were not only mentioned here but again in chapter 27. They had no brothers, their father had died, and they were going to lose out on the inheritance. So these young ladies spoke up and brought their request to the attention of Moses. Moses went to God and God replied (27:7), “What Zelophehad’s daughters say is correct. You are to give them hereditary property among their father’s brothers and transfer their father’s inheritance to his daughters.” Although the culture deemed woman as not equal to men, the Lord did not discriminate. He allowed them to inherit what would have fallen to their father or brothers. In the New Testament, Jesus did the very same thing of elevating woman to being able to receive an eternal inheritance.
- The chapter concludes with a reminder of the only 2 men over the age of 20 that were allowed into the Promised Land after the nation refused to take possession shortly after they left Egypt. God did not change his mind on the punishment. Joshua and Caleb were constant reminders of what disobedience to Lord could do to an entire nation. Joshua was soon to be the leader after Moses. Having Joshua as the leader would be a great reminder to be faithful to a faithful God and that disobedience would be greatly punished.
This chapter began with obedience and ended with a stinging reminder of disobedience. At a first glance, some of the book of Numbers may look like filler or just plain mind oozing boring. But God’s purpose and plan for the nation of Israel was on display. If you allow it too, it can even stir your affection for Him. God can still be worshipped while reading through the book of Numbers.
What difficult passages have you read and still worshipped God in? What redeemable qualities did you find? Would you like to research Heifer I mean Hepher? No matter the text, God is trying to reveal Himself to you through it, so why not look for that!!!
Grace and Peace to you as you brave difficult readings that show you our Heavenly Father.