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, 4.4). Here are the previous sections:
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.
Part 4.3 | Numbers 20-27 – 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.
Now, let’s finish 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 to conquer the land, the Israelites needed two things: faithfulness to Him through the law and strength from Him to conquer.
- Numbers 28 – Numbers 30 | Reminder of the offerings, reminder of the feasts: These chapters begin with the Lord instructing Moses to command (remind?) the Israelites of the offerings that are required, the monthly offerings that are required, the seven appointed feasts, and the law concerning vows, which were all revealed previously at Mount Sinai, as we read in Leviticus. These could be considered as reminders because Moses is now speaking to the newly numbered generation of the Israelites.
- Numbers 31 | The Israelites conquer the Midianites: The Israelites are called to go to war with the Midianites, and 12,000 men, 1,000 from each tribe, were gathered together as their army. In verse 2 we see that they are asked to “avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites” and in verse 3 they are asked to “avenge the LORD of Midian.” That is amazing to think that avenging the Israelites was equivalent to avenging the Lord! This chapter is crucial simply because you can clearly see the law being played out. In conquering the Midianites, there were numerous commandments that we learned of previously which had to be followed by the Israelites. These ranged from cleansing themselves because they were exposed to dead bodies to giving a share of the goods to the priests and to the Lord. It is also important to note that among those who were slain was the false prophet Balaam.
- Numbers 32 | Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh inherit Jazer and Gilead: Reuben and Gad come before Moses and Eleazar to request the land that had just been conquered. In verse 4 it refers to the “country which the Lord smote before the congregation,” which was the land of Sihon and Og from Numbers 21. Moses warns them of returning to the discouraging way of their ancestors (the 10 spies) who detracted from the importance of the promised land. Reuben and Gad vow to arm their men to conquer the promised land on the other side of the Jordan with the rest of the Israelites, which was acceptable to the Lord. Near the end of the chapter we see all the portions of the land that are given to the 2.5 tribes.
- Numbers 33 | The summarized travel of the Israelites from when they left Egypt to now, command to conquer the Canaanites: This chapter is a summary of the entire journey of the Israelites, and it is a command for the final portion of their journey: conquering the promised land. After listing every location the Israelites camped from when they departed Egypt, the chapter discusses the importance of cleansing the land of Canaan completely. This is similar to what we read in Numbers 26 when the children of Israel were enticed by the Moabites and the Midianites.
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. And as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you. | Numbers 33:55-56
- Numbers 34 | The borders of the promised land, the princes in charge of dividing the land: This chapter goes into great detail describing the borders of the entire land which was promised to the Israelites on all sides. The second portion of the chapter describes appointed princes who are responsible for dividing the land among the 9.5 tribes that will be receiving it. Remember that Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh had already been promised a portion. Since verse 15 refers to their portion as their “inheritance,” it seems as though it was God’s will for them to be located on the other side of Jordan and not in the promised land (but I am not sure of that yet).
- Numbers 35 – Numbers 36 | The inheritance of the Levites, laws among the children of Israel in the promised land: The last two chapters begin with the inheritance of the Levites who are given a portion from each tribe as the priests typically are given (refer to Leviticus and the portion of sacrifices and offerings given to the priests). The chapter goes on to describe laws among the people and the tribes as they live in Canaan such as laws regarding murder, which should be judged by witnesses and the congregations, and they go on to discuss the inheritance and marriage of women within their tribe so that “the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.”
Ultimately, Numbers is a fantastic book of the wild and bumpy ride of the Israelites from mount Sinai, where they received to law, to the land the Lord promised to them. Through this book we begin to recognize that life thousands of years ago is extremely similar to how things are now. We realize that we often exemplify the distracted Israelites, but we can praise God that He is faithful to forgive us and to show us His mercy. For the Israelites, although they were punished for their misdeeds, they still had claim to the promised land. However, we haven’t yet seen them conquer the land, and I believe we won’t experience that until we get to Joshua! Before we get to Joshua, we will begin our study of Deuteronomy which reviews the law given to the Israelites.