-Introduction: Numbers continues as the fourth book of the Torah under the inspiration of the LORD given to Moses, His servant and prophet, who lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness. Therefore, we can conclude that this compilation was put together somewhere between 1450-1410 B.C. and in the wilderness of the Sinai region south and east of the Promised Land. The Law section is now over, which was primarily given in Exodus and Leviticus. Now reiteration to that good and perfect Law must be made, but there is a distinct preparation phase that God’s people are now entering as they venture from slavery into promise. Their faith is tested, and usually, as we see in this text, they fail miserably. A census is taken, thus the name Numbers, but that is just one of the themes of this work. Rebellion is another key theme that becomes evident as the Hebrews are found grumbling, defiant, unsatisfied, and unbelieving at many junctures. Unfortunately, we see discipline and even death coming from the just and mighty God when these events occur in the camp of Israel. Wondering then becomes another key theme as the children of God are restricted from entrance into Canaan. They must wonder in the wilderness for forty years because they did not trust in their LORD to give them victory over the inhabitants of the land. In fact, that generation died, even Moses, before they could inherit the blessings. So, a final theme revolves around the Promised Land, which we know today as Israel. The historical story revolves around this precious piece of property that is the apple of God’s eye, which He would use for His glory as the ages progressed. Take heart and glean many precepts and understandings for how God works in the Christian’s life through this study of Numbers. It will build our faith, and help us live in the reverence of the LORD more and more.
-Chapter 1: The LORD speaks to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, which had been ordained in the giving of the Law (Exodus 25:22; 29:42). God speaks to His servant on the first day of the second month in the second year after they had come out of Egypt. This is significant because now the Law had been given, and it was time to begin the preparation stages to enter into the Promised Land. The LORD was ready to move His people along, and He calls Moses to complete a census giving authority to the heads of the sons of Israel by their families. They were to number them “head by head” each male that was 20 years old and upward and able to go to war. Just as the LORD commanded Moses, so he did in numbering the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 1:19). From Reuben (46,500) to Simeon (59,300) to Gad (45,650) to Judah (74,600) to Issachar (54,400) to Zebulun (57,400) to Joseph’s sons Ephraim (40,500) and Manasseh (32,200) to Benjamin (35,400) to Dan (62,700) to Asher (41,500) to Naphtali (53,400) they came to a total of 603,550 supposedly rounding to the nearest 100 with Gad rounding to the nearest 50 as it appears.
-The Levites, however, were not numbered among these counts. They were appointed, by the LORD’s command, over the tabernacle of the testimony, over its furnishings, and over all its belongings. They were assigned to carry the tabernacle and camp beside it so that there would “be no wrath on the congregation of the sons of Israel (Numbers 1:53).” They were to keep charge of the tabernacle of the testimony taking it down when they moved and setting it up where they camped. “Thus the sons of Israel did; according to all which the LORD had commanded Moses, so they did (Numbers 1:54).”
-*Application* Up to this point we see in Numbers an obedience to faithfully do all that the LORD wanted in regards to fulfilling His commands. It may have seemed pointless to some, or maybe there may have been a temptation for jealously between tribes based on size or responsibility, but we see no evidence of questioning anything like that in the text during this first chapter narrative. God always has a plan, and it is a perfect plan. If we will follow it willingly, things will go according to His Divine will. Success will be achieved for His Kingdom. How well are we following God’s directives for our lives today? Are we obedient or disputing with Him? I can tell you this, it will always go better if we seek Godliness with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6). God’s desire is to bless. Are we willing to go His way on things pertaining to our lives?
Verse to Memorize: Numbers 1:19