The Bible | Part 4.3

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. I am going to list the links for all posts below, but I will include a description for only the previous “Part” (if there are multiple sections of the same part, I will link them all, i.e. 4.1, 4.2, 4.3). Here are the previous sections:

 Part 1 | Genesis, Part 2 | Exodus, Part 3 | Leviticus

Part 4.1 | Numbers 1-8 – At the beginning of numbers we saw the formation of the army and further description of the law and the tabernacle. Most notably, we learned about the Levitical priesthood. On a side note: chronologically, there seems to be a jump to events in the past in some of the beginning chapters of Numbers, but Chapter 9 returns back to chronological order.

 Part 4.2 | Numbers 9-19 – In these chapters we again see a lot of wavering by the Israelites. They longed for meat instead of manna; they trust the bad reports of spies over the Lord’s promise; they challenged Moses and Aaron; and they continued to lose faith although the Lord proved Himself time and time again.

Shall we continue our study of Numbers?

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 conquer the land, the Israelites needed two things: faithfulness to Him through the law and strength from Him to conquer.

  1. Numbers 20 | Miriam dies, water from the rock at Meribah, Edom refuses passage, Aaron dies at mount Hor: This chapter starts off with the death of Miriam, and it ends with with the death of Aaron. It is interesting to consider and contrast the burial of Miriam in Kadesh with the death of Aaron in which the congregation “gathered” together and mourned for 30 days. After Miriam’s death at the start of the passage, we immediately experience another of the people’s complaints against Moses and Aaron. This time they complain for water. The Lord asks Moses and Aaron to speak to a rock for water, but Moses hits it instead. The rock still brings water, but the Lord’s power is not displayed before the people. So, Moses and Aaron are punished for not believing (they lose their right to enter the promised land). After the incident, the children of Israel come to the nation of Edom (descendants of Esau), but the king of Edom does not allow them to pass through, which causes them to journey around. As they leave, they arrive at mount Hor where Aaron dies and is buried, and Eleazar his son takes his place.
  2. Numbers 21 | Israel’s vow to utterly destroy, the fiery serpents, familiar places – the Red Sea, conquering Sihon the king of the Amorites, conquering Og the king of Bashan: We see a great sign of the Lord’s will in this chapter. The Israelites vow to completely destroy the Caananites who stood in their way, and the Lord immediately blesses them with the strength to do so. It seemed as though their request was so quickly answered because it was in line with His will to preserve the Israelites as His people only and to keep them from being influenced by sinful peoples. Right after this glimpse of a strong relationship between the Lord and His people, we go back to the routine of complaining! Again the Israelites complain against God and Moses for water and bread, and the Lord, instead of humoring them, sends fiery serpents to bite the people. We read that many died, but many also repented for turning away from the Lord. Because of their repentance, the Lord instructed Moses to place a brass serpent into the ground that saved any bitten man if he looked at it [in faith]. The account of the fiery serpents is a direct metaphor for Christ. It took repentance and faith for the Israelites to be saved by the judgement of the Lord. As the chapter continues we see the Israelites continue their journey along the Red Sea and the valley of Arnon, conquering Sihon king of the Amorites and Og the king of Bashan as well.
  3. Numbers 22 – Numbers 26 | Balak king of Moab, the false prophet Balaam, vexed by Moab but saved through Phinehas, the need to conquer other nations, and the numbering of the Israelites that would enter the land: We realize in these chapters that other nations set their eyes on Israel and despise them. Balak the king of the Moabites was “sick with dread” because of them, and he attempted to use Balaam, a so called prophet of the Lord, to curse them! As the story continues, we see that Balaam is indeed a prophet and that he has the gift of conversing with the Lord, but we know from other portions of the Bible (Numbers 31 and Revelation) that Balaam was a false prophet. Balak seeks Balaam so that he can curse the Israelites, but the Lord tells Balaam not to go. As the Moabites keep prodding Balaam, the Lord eventually allows him to go so that He can speak through Balaam. However, it seems that Balaam begins his journey for the wrong reasons (possibly with a desire for the wealth that was promised him by the Moabites), and the Lord himself stands in his way. Interestingly, the donkey stops because it sees the Lord, but the “prophet” cannot, which reveals that the prophet Balaam is a false-prophet. Ultimately, the Lord opens Balaam’s eyes, and He allows Balaam to go with the men. When he is finally with Balak, Balaam is pushed to request a curse on the Israelites, but each time Balaam comes before the Lord, the Lord clearly blesses the nation of Israel to greatness and happiness. Balaam foolishly hearkens to the evil king rather than submitting completely to the guidance of the Lord. Balaam then goes on to lead the Israelites into worshipping “Baal-peor” and into committing sin with the Moabites and Midianites. The Lord brings a plague upon them, but the zealousness of Phinehas, Eleazar’s son, (he slayed a man seeking to sin with a Midianitish woman before the congregation of Israel) turned the Lord’s wrath away from the Israelites. This portion is important because the Lord claims the reason why He so quickly answered the Israelites prayer to “utterly destroy” their enemy in chapter 21.

    “Be hostile to the Midianites and strike them; for they have been hostile to you with their tricks, with which they have deceived you in the affair of Peor and in the affair of Cozbi, the daughter of the leader of Midian, their sister who was slain on the day of the plague because of Peor.” | Numbers 25:17-18

    In chapter 26, we see the Israel being numbered again. The new numbering was of those who were not under the curse, but could enter the promise land. Not one man who had been numbered originally was numbered at this time. Only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter from the original Israelites. Each of the numbered tribes and people would be blessed with an proportionate inheritance of the land that the Lord promised so many years ago.

  4. Numbers 27 | The daughters of Zelophehad, Joshua chosen to succeed Moses: Immediately after the numbering and instruction regarding the division of the land, the daughters of Zelophehad came before Moses and Eleazar. They claimed that their father did not die because of rebellion or the plagues, and he did not have sons. They asked why he should not also be blessed with an inheritance just because he has no sons! Moses brought their request before the Lord, and the Lord found it right saying that the inheritance would go to daughters if there were no sons, to his brethren if no daughters, and to his kinsmen if no brethren. This passage is interesting as the daughters challenged the traditional method of dispersing land and respectfully brought their concern to their leader Moses. When Moses brought it before the Lord, the Lord found truth in their concern. In the second part of the chapter, the Lord talks to Moses of his death similar to his conversation regarding Aaron in Numbers 20. However, Moses requests the Lord to appoint someone to take his place because it is not good to have sheep without a shepherd. So the Lord appoints Joshua, “in whom is the spirit” as the successor to Moses, and Moses is told to put some of his “honor upon him.”

We continue to see the unfaithfulness of the Israelites, and this time we surprisingly see the unfaithfulness of Moses! Numbers continues to express the importance of living by the law and living for the Lord, and we learn that doing anything short of that causes the Israelites (us) to walk down a dark path. The Lord blesses them at times and punishes them at others, and it is clear that nobody has the ability to truly fulfill the law in its entirety, not even Moses.

3 thoughts on “The Bible | Part 4.3

  1. What is food for caution is the narrative about Balaam, the false prophet. As children, we are taught about this foolish prophet who was blind to what The Lord God wanted him to do when a mere animal, a donkey (universally considered “dumb”), clearly has the gumption to do the right thing!

    What I find disconcerting is that often times today, we are surrounded by such false prophets. The question is if we have the discernment to recognize such people when they appear disguised as prophets of God or do we foolishly succumb to their false teachings?

    Frankly, I would rather be considered “stupid” and walk in God’s will than be a counterpart of “Balaam!”

    Thank you for this in depth study of the books of the OT.

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