By now, you probably know the drill. If you are new to this, this series, as you may have deciphered, is an outline of the entire Bible, book by good ‘ol book. Here is a recap of the previous parts of the series:
Part 1 | Genesis – Sin comes into this world, and no matter what mankind does, we do not have the power to control or stop it. We need a Savior, and the prophecy of the One who will crush the serpent’s head begins to unravel in this Book of the Bible. This prophecy begins with the forming of Israel.
Part 2 | Exodus – Exodus is a beautiful image of bondage under sin and God’s merciful deliverance from that bondage. The Israelites are in bondage under the Egyptians, and they desperately need a savior, and that savior is Moses.
Part 3 | Leviticus – This Book is a strong testament to the holiness of God and the importance of offering and worship. It focuses on the Israelites and how they should utilize the tabernacle.
And now we have arrived at Part 4, which is a review of Numbers. Let’s go to war!
NUMBERS – In Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, we saw the formation, salvation, and sanctification of the Israelites, and in Numbers the Israelites begin their journey from Mount Sinai, where they received the law, to the land that was promised to them. In order to make it there and to conquer the land, the Israelites needed two things from God: faithfulness to Him and the law, and strength.
3 from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies. Numbers 1:3
- Numbers 1 | The mighty army of Israel and the responsibility of the Levites: The first chapter in Numbers establishes two very important things. First, we see that the leaders of the tribes chosen and the great army of Israel created by numbering (gathering) men from each tribe (son of Jacob). There were 12 tribes that offered men for the army – 10 sons of Jacob (Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali), and 2 sons of Joseph (Ephraim, and Manasseh). In all, a number of 603,550 men “able to go out to war” was gathered together. Second, in this chapter we see that the Levites were not numbered with the other sons of Jacob. Instead, they were set aside to oversee the tabernacle! They had to carry it, set it up, break it down, and take care of all parts of the tabernacle. We see the importance of the Levites as they are charged with setting up their camp around the tabernacle so that “there will be no wrath on the congregation of the sons of Israel” (Numbers 1:53).
- Numbers 2 | The placement of the camps around the tabernacle: The armies that were numbered in the first chapter were then organized by the Lord around the tabernacle. They were separated into 4 camps that met under a different standard, and it seems that these camps were to set up in a specific order. First, on the east side of the tabernacle was the standard of the camp of Judah, which included the men from Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Second, on the south side was the standard of the camp of Reuben, which include the men from Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. After that, the Levites were to set up the tabernacle within the camps. Third, on the west side was the standard of the camp of Ephraim, which included men from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. Fourth, on the north side was the standard of the camp of Dan, which included men from Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.
- Numbers 3 – Numbers 4 | The Levitical Priesthood, the firstborn, and the duties of the Levitical priests as they serve the Aaronic priests: In this chapter, the Levites are set before Aaron to serve him. The duties of the Levites are specific to each of his three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The Gershonites camped at the west side of the tabernacle, and the men were in charge of the tent, and coverings and the doorways. The Kohathites camped at the south side of the tabernacle and they were in charge of the ark, the lampstand, the altars, utensils, and screens. The Merarites camped at the north side of the tabernacle, and they were in charge of the frames of the tabernacle. Finally, Moses and Aaron and his sons camped at the east side of the tabernacle. Additionally, at the beginning of Numbers 3, the Lord claims that the Levites will be his ” instead of every firstborn”, and at the end of the chapter a ransom is paid since there were 273 more first born males of the Israelites than there were males of the Levites (22,273 vs. 22,000). Numbers 4 goes on to discuss the responsibilities of the sons of Levi and Aaron in greater detail, and it numbers the men from ages 30 to 50 years old from each family as the ones to service the tabernacle.
- Numbers 5 – Numbers 6 | The undefiled camp – dealing with uncleanness, i.e. leprosy, unfaithfulness, adultery, the vow of the Nazirite, and the benediction: These two chapters immediately jump into the purity of the camp of people, and it addresses examples of physical, spiritual, and sexual impurity. It is interesting to see these impurities categorized in this way, and Numbers 5 goes on to describes how to address them in order to maintain an undefiled camp. Numbers 6 then describes those that would dedicate their lives to the Lord, the Nazirites. Much is required of the Nazirites in order to separate themselves as holy unto the Lord. Finally, Numbers 6 ends with a prayer of blessing (benediction) that Aaron and his sons are to bestow upon the sons of Israel.
27 So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them. Numbers 6:27
- Numbers 7 | The dedication of the tribes: Immediately after the construction of the tabernacle, we learn that every tribe of Israel brought forth a multiple offerings. First, they brought an offering before the Lord, which was given to the Levites for the service of the tabernacle, and the second was a “dedication offering for the altar when it was anointed”. For 12 days after the construction of the tabernacle, one leader brought forth an immense dedication offering for the altar on each day. The offering included one silver dish and one silver bowl filled with fine flour and oil, one gold pan filled with incense, one bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs. At the end of the chapter we see Moses entering the tabernacle to speak with the Lord who spoke from the mercy seat above the ark in the holiest of holies.
- Numbers 8 | The seven lamps, and the cleansing of the Levites: The beginning of the chapter describes the placement and workmanship of the seven lamps that create one lamp (Exodus 25). The rest of the chapter goes on to describe the cleansing of the Levites for their task of service to Aaron. The Levites are described as a “gift to Aaron and to his sons”. After their cleansing, the Levites performed “their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and before his sons”. We also learn that the work of service of the Levites was limited to males ages 25 to 50 years old. After the “retirement” age of 50 they were still allowed to offer assistance, but they were strictly forbidden from doing any work themselves.
This was just the beginning of the Book of Numbers. The Book has a total of 35 chapters, but because this review is already getting somewhat lengthy, the rest will be reviewed in part 4.2. So, stay tuned for the second part of the book of Numbers which starts with the Passover (one of the seven feasts established in Leviticus)!