Great Lessons From The Book Of Numbers For The Church Today
Introduction: Be Careful Not To Fall! Each lesson in this study will emphasize one of the great lessons this book holds for us today. In this first lesson we will take an overview of the book and see how it teaches us to be careful not to fall!
The book is called Numbers (Greek Septuagint “arithmoi”) because of the two census reports of Israel (Num. 1; 26). The Hebrew title for the book comes from the phrase “in the wilderness” (Hebrew “bemidbar”) from the first verse. This seems fitting since the book records the wilderness experience of Israel.
Numbers is the fourth book of the Pentateuch. Genesis is the book of beginnings. In Exodus Israel had come out of Egypt, received the Law at Sinai and built the tabernacle. Leviticus instructs the people regarding the offerings, the priesthood and other laws of holiness. Numbers begins with some preparations at Sinai (20 days – Num. 1:1; 10:11), before Israel takes off on their long journey in the wilderness (38 years – Num. 33:38), and finally make their way to the east side of the Jordan River (6 months – Deu. 1:3).
The theme of numbers is well expressed by Moses (10:29). Numbers is the inspired record of Israel’s journey towards Canaan (See Map “Israel’s Wanderings Recorded In Numbers").
Israel’s last days at Sinai (1-10)
Start of journey to Canaan (10-12)
Israel’s rebellion at Kadesh (13-14)
Wilderness wandering and back to Kadesh (15-20)
March of new generation toward Canaan (20-21)
Israel at Moab (22-36)
Numbers underscores the faithfulness of God. Despite Israel’s failures, God was faithful to His promise to Abraham and his descendants!
Their experience serves as an example of warning for Christians.
1 Cor. 10:1-13
Have you ever fallen? It is easy to do if we are not careful. Just as we may fall physically, so we may fall spiritually (Gal. 5:4; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-31; 2 Pet. 2:1-2, 20-22). The lesson is clear: Be careful not to fall!
Chapters 1-10 – Great Lessons Learned In Preparation At Mt. Sinai And Starting Out On Their Journey
Chapter One: We Belong To God! 1:2-3 Census of all taken earlier for taxes (Exo. 30:11; 38:24-25) but this for military strength in anticipation of entering Canaan. Christians are God’s army (cf. 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10ff; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3-4).
A counting, a numbering indicates that each one belongs to God. He knows their names and everything about them. He loves and cares for them. Compare Luke 12:6-7; John 10:14-15; 27-29.
1:46 God’s army totaled 603,550, yet God provided for them all in wilderness for 40 years! Probably over 3 million people require 1500 tons of food/day (2 freight trains a mile long), 4,000 tons of firewood (few more trains a mile long), 11 million gallons of water (tanker 1800 miles long). Do you think Moses had all this figured out before they left Egypt? He trusted God to take care of them and He provided manna, quail, water from a rock, shoes and clothes that did not wear out (Deu. 29:5). Do we have faith in God for our needs (cf. Mat. 6:25-34)?
1:47-54 The Levites were not included because they served the tabernacle. They were set apart for the Lord instead of the firstborn of Israel (Num. 3:12-13; cf. Heb. 12:23). Those who belong to God must be separate from the world and keep His commandments (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 1 Pet. 1:13-2:12).
We belong to God. He knows us, loves us, cares for us. As His army we fight the good fight of the faith. As His church and holy priesthood, we serve and worship Him in holiness and obedience. Belonging to God gives us identity, security, faith and purpose.
Chapter Two: Keep God In The Center Of Your Life! 2:2 God organized the camp and the march of Israel (see Handout). Note the position and leaders of each of the tribes around the tabernacle with their standards and emblems (flags, banners), as well as the order of their march (10:13-28). The families of Levi camped nearest the tabernacle on the south (Kohath 3:29), west (Gershon 3:23) and north (Merari 3:35). Moses, Aaron and his sons camped nearest the tabernacle on the east (3:38).
Organization was essential in moving Israel through the wilderness. Imagine the chaos and confusion of moving over 3 million men, women and children from place to place for 40 years without some kind of organization. This principle is important in the work and worship of the Lord, as well as in all of our life (1 Cor. 14:33, 40). Compare the feeding of the five thousand (Luke 9:12-17). Consider the order of creation, the specific roles in the family and the organization of the church.
2:17 The tabernacle was in the middle of Israel’s camp and in their march to the Promised Land (10:17). The tabernacle symbolized the presence of God (cf. Exo. 33:14). He was among them, in the very heart of their camp.
We must be careful to keep God in the center of our lives (Mat. 6:33; Col. 3:4; Phi. 1:21). God must take priority, all things must revolve around Him, He is the very purpose of our life. Like rings on a pond move outward when a rock is thrown into it, when we put God at the center of our life His influence will extend to every other area of our life!
Chapter Three-Four: Everyone Has A Job To Do! 3:2-3 Aaron and his sons served as priests. We are all priests (1 Pet. 2:5, 9-10; Rev. 1:6) in the greater Tabernacle, the church.
3:6-7 Levites assisted the priests. We are all servants (Luke 17:10; 1 Cor. 4:1; Rev. 22:3) in the greater Tabernacle, the church.
4:5, 7, 9, 11 Priests covered the furnishings.
4:15 Kohathites carried the furnishings.
4:24-25 Gershonites carried the curtains and covering.
4:31 Merarites carried the frame (heavier less important parts).
We all have different gifts to use and functions to perform in the worship and service of the greater Tabernacle, the church (Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 3:5-9; 12:4-31; Eph. 4:7-16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).
The work of the Lord is to be a shared ministry. Everyone has a job to do!
Chapters Five-Six: We Are To Be A Holy People! 5:1-4 God demanded that Israel remove those that were defiled from the camp. We must remove the wicked from the church (1 Cor. 5; 2 The. 3:6, 14-15).
5:5-10 God demanded confession and restitution for sin. We must confess and make restitution for our sins as we are able (Luke 19:1-10; Acts 8:14-24; Jam. 5:16; 1 John 1:9).
5:11-31 God demanded faithfulness in marriage but protected the wife against false accusation. We must uphold the sanctity of marriage (Heb. 13:4; Rom. 7:2-3; Mat. 19:9).
6:1-21 The Nazarite vow points to the holiness God demands of all (John 17:9-11; Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Jam. 1:27; 1 Pet. 1:13-2:12).
6:22-27 The Lord blesses His holy people (Psa. 67; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 1:3).
Chapters Seven-Eight: Give yourself to God! 7:2-9 The leaders of Israel gave gifts for the work of the tabernacle. These were used to transport the tabernacle.
We are to give gifts for the greater work of the greater tabernacle, the church (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; 9:6-7; 12:14).
7:10-11 The leaders of Israel gave gifts for the altar of the tabernacle. Each leader made an identical offering (vv. 12-88).
We are to give gifts for the greater altar, the cross of the greater tabernacle, the church. As the gifts were reckoned according to what each leader gave, so each of us will give account of himself to God (Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10).
8:1-3 The lamps of the tabernacle were to be arranged so that they give light.
We are to so order our lives to reflect the greater light of Christ and the gospel to the world (Mat. 5:14-16; Phi. 2:14-16).
8:13-16 The Levites gave themselves to God.
We are to give ourselves to God (Rom. 12:1-2; 6:13, 16, 19; Jam. 1:18; Heb. 12:23).
Chapter Nine: Remember the Lord and follow Him! 9:1-3 It had been a year since they came out of Egypt and it was time to remember the Passover. Review the Passover (Exo. 12:3-14, 26-27) and compare to our Passover, Christ (John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 Cor. 5:7-8).
9:15-18, 22-23 As Israel was to follow God’s lead (Exo. 40:34-38) so must we today (Psa. 119:105; 139:23-24; Pro. 3:5-7; 20:24; Jer. 10:23; Rom. 8:13-14).
Remember the Lord and follow Him (1 Pet. 2:21-25)!
Chapter Ten: God’s Leaders Must Lead God’s People Forward! 10:1-10 Two trumpets (one for each of the two sons of Aaron) were to be hammered out of silver to assemble and direct the nation.
Blast on both trumpets = assemble congregation for feast and special days
Blast on one trumpet = assemble leaders
Sound the advance = camps move out
Sound the alarm = go to war
God’s leaders today must call God’s people to assemble (Heb. 10:25; to worship and encourage one another), meet with leaders (Acts 6:1-7; 13:1-3;15; to solve, plan, pray, decide), to move forward (Mat. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18; to preach, disciple, mature and increase) and to go to war against the enemy (Eph. 6:10ff; 1 Tim. 6:12; Jude 3).
10:11-13, 28 Israel breaks camp from Sinai to begin their journey to the Promised Land according to the order of the march as God commanded in chapter 2. The church cannot sit still must continue to march toward heaven (Rom. 6:4; Mat. 10:22; Rev. 2:10; 14:13; 1 Pet. 1:3-5)! What would have happened if Israel had stayed at the mountain? They were a great nation with a great name and a great law but there was a greater blessing awaiting them. Let us not miss out on the greatest blessing of all!
10:29-32 Moses recruited Hobab to be their guide. In what ways do you think this shows Moses to be a good leader? 1) He was wise to look ahead, assess the need and prepare. 2) He was not too proud but wise to seek the help of another. 3) He was wise to choose someone who was well qualified. 4) He was polite, persuasive and benevolent in his request.
10:33-36 Israel left Sinai following the cloud of the Lord and Moses prayed to the Lord on their behalf. What does this passage teach us about leadership? 1) We are to follow our leaders as they follow the Lord (1 Cor. 11:1). 2) Leaders should pray to the Lord as Moses called upon Him at the beginning and end of each journey (Luke 18:1; Rom. 12:12; 1 The. 5:17; Jam. 5:16).
May God’s leaders be humble, wise and prayerful to lead God’s people forward!
Chapters 11-20 – Great Lessons Learned From Their Wandering In The Wilderness
Chapter Eleven: Complain And You Might Just Get What You Asked For! 11:1-3 Israel complained and was consumed. Not know what complained about. Some will always find something. Those on the outskirts (fringe, stragglers, not really involved) often the worst complainers.
11:4-6 Israel complained again. This time tired of manna… Where’s the beef? Desired diet of lower class in Egypt failing to realize what would have in Canaan, the land of milk and honey, with wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, olives. The mixed multitude (of divided heart) more interested in flesh than spirit. Today, many tired of same old church, always wanting something new and different, more interested in fun and food than work and service. More interested in things of world than the blessings of heaven. Consider Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 John 2:15-17.
11:10-15 Moses complained. Do you think Moses was a little over dramatic or may have exaggerated his situation? Do we sometimes make more of things than they really are?
11:16-17 God told Moses to get some others to help him. Can we learn something here about delegating responsibility in the church?
11:18-20 God promised to give the people meat. God promises to give us what we ask for (Mat. 7:11).
11:21-23 Moses did not believe God could do what He promised. Do we complain to God and then fail to trust Him and accept His answers? Do we believe Matthew 19:26; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Romans 8:28; Hebrews 13:5-6?
11:31-34 God gave them what they asked for (cf. Psa. 106:15; 78:26-31)! What lesson do we learn here about complaining and how God deals with us? Often we do not know what we really need or what is really good for us. God may give us what we ask for so that we can learn to be humble and trust Him with our lives. Compare teens or stubborn adults who insist they know better and have to learn the hard way.
Let us quit complaining (Phi. 2:14-16) and remember how God has blessed us, is blessing us and will bless us (Eph. 1:3). Let us realize that God knows everything we need even before we ask Him (Mat. 6:7-8, 25-34) and that He will bless us abundantly if we will trust Him (John 10:10; 2 Sam. 22:3; Psa. 2:12; 16; 18:2; 23; 36:7-10; Pro. 3:5-10; 1 Tim. 6:17-19).
Chapter Twelve: Do Not Speak Against God’s Servant! 12:1-2 Case of sibling rivalry (ever happened in your family?).
Miriam mentioned first perhaps because led this rebellion (also the one punished later).
Objected to Moses’ wife because a Gentile but real problem was their jealousy of Moses as is indicated in verse 2.
God hears when we talk about others.
12:3 God exonerated Moses. Moses may not have recognized threat and apparently took no action against his siblings.
12:4-5 Like being called to principal’s office.
12:6-8 God reminds them how He chose Moses (rehearse birth events, burning bush and receiving of law on Mt. Sinai).
Compare Moses to Christ: 1) Married to Gentile wife as Christ to sinners 2) Envied by His family as Christ by Jews 3) Special servant and prophet as Christ (cf. Isa. 53; Heb. 1:1-2; 3:1-6).
12:9-10 Miriam’s punishment shows how sin in heart can destroy whole person (Pro. 4:23; 23:7).
12:11-13 Now, Aaron displays different attitude towards Moses and asks his prayers (cf. Acts 8:22-24). Moses intercedes as Christ intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34; cf. vv. 25-26; Jam. 5:16; 1 Tim. 2:1-2).
12:14a None of this would have happened had her father properly disciplined her (“spit in her face” publicly disgraced, shamed, humiliated cf. Deu. 25:9).
12:14b-15 Complete (7 days) cleansing available for those who repent and confess (1 John 1:7-9).
12:16 Israel moves on as we must (Phi. 3:13-14), hopefully a little wiser now having learned another lesson (Jam. 4:11; Eph. 4:31-32; 1 Tim. 5:19-22).
Chapter Thirteen-Fourteen: Unbelief Will Cause Us To Fall Short Of God’s Promise! 13:1-2 It was the people’s idea to send in the spies…instead of act they wanted to gather facts (Deu. 1:22-23). God used this to educate and test the people.
Notes: Levi not mentioned because served tabernacle, but still twelve because Joseph’s tribe became two tribes from his sons Ephraim and Manasseh.
Caleb from Judah (v. 6) and Hoshea, the son of Nun (besides Adam and Eve, who in Bible had no parents?) from Ephraim (v. 8). Only two who brought back good report and entered promised land.
Hoshea = Joshua (v. 16) = Jesus (Greek for Joshua, prophetic) who led Israel into promised land as Jesus leads us into heaven (John 14:6).
13:18-20 The spies were to find out the military strength, fertility, wealth and natural resources of the promised land.
13:23 This was a great example of the abundance in the land.
13:25-26 Forty = 4(man)x10 (completeness). It speaks of complete test or trial of man as in Noah’s flood, Jesus’ temptation and in next chapter Israel’s wandering in the wilderness.
Israel camped at Kadesh Barnea where they would return after some 38 years before going into promised land (see map).
13:27-33 Reminds me of church men’s business meetings…some positive, others negative. Note how negative report was exaggerated. Giants (Gen. 6:4; 1 Sam. 17:4).
14:1-4 Israel rebelled (Neh. 9:16-17).
14:5 See the humility of Moses and now also Aaron (how different from his attitude in chapter 12).
14:6-10 Joshua and Caleb try to persuade the people but they would have stoned them had God not intervened.
14:11-20 Moses intercedes for Israel so the God does not kill them all at once (v. 15) as Christ is our intercessor and Savior from God’s wrath (Rom. 8:34).
14:29-34 Only a few would enter promised land (cf. Noah’s day, Mat. 7:13-14).
14:36-37 Woe to those who cause God’s people to fall and lose their souls (Mat. 18:6-7)!
14:39-45 Israel, like disobedient child that doesn’t want his punishment, wants a second chance but it is too late. They act presumptuously in headstrong blindness and rashness and are defeated. Hormah = utter destruction (cf. 21:1-3).
Let us learn from Israel not to fall in unbelief so that we can enter our promised land of heaven (Heb. 3:7-4:10)!
Chapter Fifteen: Heaven Is For Those Who Are Holy! This chapter stands between the rebellion of 13-14 (people refused to go in and were to wander for 40 years) and the rebellion of 16 (Korah’s rebellion in which 1000s were killed).
15:1-2 Looks ahead to better day when next generation enters land.
15:40-41 Emphasizes holiness. Taken from Leviticus (see Lev. 19:1-2).
Grain and drink offerings according to size of animals (herd/flock, ram, bull) – “as prosper” (1 Cor. 16:2).
One law for all (vv. 15-16; cf. Mat. 28:18-20).
Unintentional (vv. 22-24, i.e. ignorantly, inadvertently, in moment of weakness)
For congregation – bull (v. 24) because greater responsibility
For individual – female goat (v. 27) because less responsibility
Presumptuous (vv. 30-31, i.e. highhandedly, willingly, knowingly)
Background of Hebrews 10:26-31
Example (vv. 32-36) – God set a precedent to protect holiness of Sabbath
Compare Luke 12:47-48.
Blue = high and heavenly calling of holiness
613 commandments represented by tassels
Matthew 23:5 indicates holiness more than outward show
May God help us to be holy in view of the day we enter heaven (Heb. 12:14;1 Pet. 1:13ff; 1 John 3:1-3)!
Chapter Sixteen: Be Careful With Whom You Stand! Here we read of another great rebellion in Israel in which many of the people were destroyed because they stood on the wrong side against Moses and Aaron. This is not unlike rebellion in the church today in which some have unjustly risen up against God’s leaders and have split the church to the destruction of many souls (Jude 11).
16:1-3 Korah is the ringleader. He is of the tribe of Levi and the family of Kohath that were privileged to serve the tabernacle but were not satisfied (vv. 8-11). Joined by Dathan , Abiram, On and 250 leaders of Israel. On may have withdrawn as he is not mentioned again.
16:4-7 Moses suggests they try a “Nadab and Abihu” (Lev. 10).
16:12-15 The blindness of rebellion!
16:16-35 God’s wrath, Moses’ intercession, man’s decision. Children of Korah did not die in this (vv. 27, 31-32; 26:11).
16:36-40 God provided a reminder to anyone who might try this again.
16:41-50 How quickly we forget and slow we are to learn. Incense would give off a fragrant aroma when burned. It was a symbol of prayer of thanksgiving and joyful praise (Psa. 141:2). Incense always burned in the tabernacle (Exo. 30:8; cf. 1 The. 5:17). When Zacharias went into the temple to burn incense the people were praying outside (Luke 1:10). In John’s vision of the throne of God he saw “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). In a later vision an angel with a golden censer “was given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints” (8:3). Here it points to intercessory prayer (1 Tim. 2:1-2; Jam. 5:16; Rom. 8:26-27; 34).
Let us learn from Israel to be satisfied with our place in the church and to never stand against God’s leaders to the destruction of the church but always stand with Christ (Mat. 12:30).
Chapter Seventeen: God Will Vindicate His Chosen! 17:1-5 “the testimony” = the law in the ark (Ex 25:16,22)
“a rod” compare Gen. 32:18 Tamar had Judah’s staff, Est. 4:11 The king’s scepter, Psa. 23:5 The Lord’s staff, Isa. 11:1; 53:2; Jer. 23:5; Zec. 3:8; 6:12; Rev. 5:5 Of Christ
17:6-7 Bring all questions and decisions before the Lord to find His answers! Cf. Pro. 3:5-6; Jer. 10:23; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Jam. 1:5.
17:8-9 Dead wood comes to life! This vindication is indicative of the greater vindication of the greater high priest, Jesus Christ, by God through the resurrection (Eze. 17:22-24; Isa. 2:2-3; Rom. 1:4; Psalm 2 with Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5).
17:10-13 Note the spiritual depression of Israel because they murmured against the Lord’s chosen and their renewed sense of fear concerning the holiness of God. Sometimes we, too, need to be reminded of the fear of the Lord (Heb. 12:28-29).
Let us never rebel against the ones God has chosen, especially His Son. Let us be encouraged to know that if we will fear God that we, too, will be vindicated by God with Christ over all God’s enemies (1 Cor. 15:20-27).
Chapters Eighteen-Nineteen: God Will Provide For His People! 18:1-7 Priests guard the tabernacle and protect the people from God’s holiness (recall their fear at the end of chapter 17). They are assisted by the other Levites.
18:8, 20 Levites given no land (Jos. 13:14) but God provides for the priests with the offerings as we should support God’s servants in church (1 Cor. 9:13-14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18)! Furthermore, God provides for all of us every need (Mat. 6:33; Phi. 4:19).
18:19 “salt” (v. 19) = Salt seasoned every grain offering as a sign of covenant (Lev. 2:13; 2 Chr. 13:5; Luke 17:32 – Lot’s wife’s disobedience was immortalized in a pillar of salt. She broke the covenant when she looked back on corruption). Christians are God’s covenant people (Mat. 5:13) and must not lose their covenant standing (Mark 9:49-50).
18:21 Levites receive tithes of Israel.
18:26, 28 Levites give tenth of tithes to Aaron.
19:2-3, 9, 11-18, 20 God provides the ashes (readily available w/o setting up tabernacle) of the red heifer (young cow not yet birthed a calf) for cleansing which points to the always available cleansing of the blood of Christ (Rev. 1:5; 1 John 1:7-9) without sin (Heb. 4:15) but slain outside camp (Heb. 13:11-13).
Verse 12 indicates no priest involved as we come to God thru Christ w/o human priest.
Compare baptism to water of purification as means to God’s grace (cf. Acts 22:16; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
Thank God for providing us with all we need, especially the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of His Son!
Chapter Twenty: Be Faithful Unto Death! 20:1 Now first month of 40th year in wilderness (cf. v. 28; Num. 33:38) and back at Kadesh Barnea where Miriam dies before entering the Promised Land. We must all die and face judgment before entering heaven (Heb. 9:27).
20:2-6 Last appearance of cloud/fire recorded.
20:7-13 Rod = Moses’s rod (v. 11) or Aaron’s rod (v. 9)? Aaron’s rod was not used to strike as Moses’s rod was used the first time the rock was struck (Exo. 17:1-7).
The rock was smitten once because it pointed to Christ who was slain one time for our sins (1 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 9:29; 10:12).
Moses’ mistakes: 1) lost temper 2) spoke to people not rock 3) took credit for himself and Aaron not God 4) struck rock (2x!) = all evidence of unbelief! Both Moses and Aaron held responsible for this (v. 24).
Some might think not so bad to strike rock that not get to enter Promised Land…God not say “Don’t strike rock” and he had done so before. Some say not so bad to use instrumental music that not enter Heaven…God not say “Don’t use instrument” and His people had done so before.
Great lesson is that Moses and Law cannot get us to Heaven, only Jesus Christ!
20:14-21 Edom = from Esau, Israel’s brother. Obadiah deals with long, bitter hatred between them.
King’s Highway = still used today; Rome paved and made 2 lanes.
Edom later punished by God for not allowing passage to Israel.
20:22-29 Aaron was 123 year old (Num. 33:39).
Miriam, Moses and Aaron all died in wilderness without entering promised land. This points to the fact that we have all sinned and not able to enter heaven without a Savior (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).
This also emphasizes the importance of keeping faith unto death so that we do not forfeit salvation but are blessed in eternity (Mat. 10:22; Rev. 2:10; 14:13).
Chapters 21-36 – Great Lessons Learned At The End Of Their Journey
Chapter Twenty-One: Move On To The End! The wandering is over and Israel begins to make their way to the east side of the Jordan River where they will cross over into the Promised Land. This last leg of the journey is mixed with victory and defeat but if they are to enter the Promised Land they must move on to the end. This is the first of many more great lessons we will learn at the end of their journey.
21:1-3 Hormah = utter destruction. Same site where Israel was defeated 38 years ago (14:45)! What a difference a few years can make!
21:4-9 Discouragement often comes at the end of a journey (2 Cor. 4:16-5:1).
People often blame God and others for their condition (Gen. 3:12-13).
God does not always give us what we want but what we need (Mat. 7:7-11).
God doesn’t always take away our trial but uses it to help us take away our bad attitudes (Jam. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:1-5; Heb. 12:3-11; Job 5:17).
The bronze serpent was worshiped during days of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4).
The bronze serpent on the pole points to the cross of Christ (John 3:14;12:32-33).
21:10 Israel moved on as we must “keep on keeping on” (Heb. 12:1-2).
21:20 Pisgah = where Moses viewed Promised Land and died (Deu. 34:1-5).
21:23-24 cf. Deu. 2
21:33-35 cf. Deu. 3. King Og was a giant with fortified cities and a king size bed, 13 ½ feet by 6 feet, made of iron (Deu. 3:11).
In victory or defeat let us learn from Israel to move on knowing that we will be victorious in the end (1 Cor. 15:57-58)!
Chapter Twenty-Two-Twenty-Four: You Cannot Curse God’s People (And Get By With It)! 22:1-4 Balak = king of Moab but was a Midianite and formed an alliance with them.
22:5-7 Balaam = a pagan fortune teller “soothsayer” (Jos. 13:22), apparently with a widespread reputation.
Diviner’s fee = concept that power of gods can be purchased (cf. Acts 8:18-21).
No Moabite would be able to enter the congregation of Israel until the tenth generation because they refused to help them on their journey and hired Balaam to curse them (Deu. 23:3-6)
22:8 Balaam knew Yahweh was God of Israel. Calls him “my God” in verse 18, to encourage Balak to hire him.
22:9 God knew what asked but wanted to warn Balaam (compare how He questioned Adam and Eve).
22:10-11 Balaam knew who they were and what they wanted him to do and that the Lord would not want him to do this. He didn’t need to ask them to stay so that he could ask the Lord about it.
22:12 This should have ended the whole thing but as is often the case people will not listen to God.
22:13-17 They thought Balaam was holding out for more money.
22:18-19 A noble thought and biblical principle (Deu. 4:2; Pro. 30:6; 1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18-19) but it was greed that caused Balaam to continue to lead them on (2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11).
22:20-21 God allowed Balaam to go with them since that’s what he wanted but God would use Balaam for His purposes. Compare God allowing Israel to have a king because they stubbornly insisted. Remember how God sent quail to Israel in the wilderness when they complained (Num. 11; Psa. 78:29-31)? Ever had a teen like this? Sometimes we have to let those who are coming to the age of independence from their parents learn the hard way and say “if that is what you are going to do go ahead and do it” (cf. Luke 15).
22:22-33 Like a parent God did not want him to go and was hoping he would change his mind and do the right thing. God then tried to stop him but he was stubborn and rebellious and insisted on going against the Lord.
The Angel of the Lord = not ordinary angel but Jesus appearing as an angel. This was deity as He was worshiped and called Yahweh (v. 31; cf. Jos. 5:13-14; Gen. 16:13).
God used the donkey to restrain Balaam but he was more stubborn than the donkey (cf. 2 Pet. 2:16).
Balaam’s striking of the donkey three times is reminiscent of Peter denying Christ three times.
22:34-35 Balaam knew what he was doing was not what God really wanted but he was already determined to do it anyway (cf. John 13:27).
22:36-41 Here we see Balak seeking the favor of the pagan gods: 1) Pagans thought could buy power of gods so assures Balaam can pay. 2) Pagans thought could gain favor of gods by offering meat to idols so made offering and provided meat for Balaam and party. 3) Pagans thought object to be cursed had to be viewed so brought Balaam to high places.
23:1-6 These offerings may have been made at God’s instructions (cf. v. 4), Balaam was working for God not the gods of paganism. Balaam was probably looking for some sign in the heavens (cf. 24:1) but instead was enabled to speak by inspiration (1 Pet. 4:11).
23:7-10 The first oracle.
Aram = ancient name for Mesopotamia.
Dust = innumerable (Gen. 13:16)
Righteous = plural the children of Israel
His = singular one corporate nation
Balaam’s prayer implies life after death. It is a good prayer for us all to pray trusting God for our salvation but Balaam died fighting God’s people on Balak’s side (31:8).
23:11-12 Why are people always so surprised when God does what He says He will do? Why do we think we can manipulate God and still do what we want?
23:13 Balak thinks it will encourage Balaam if only see those on the fringe so Israel not seem so powerful. Like the devil he will not give up easily.
23:18-24 The second oracle.
Balak is a fool to think that having blessed Israel God would then curse them.
Balaam emphasizes more than ever the blessings and also how they will destroy their enemies.
What God has done = first message by wireless telegraph May 24, 1844 and we do not cease to wonder at God’s work
23:25-26 Some still do not want to hear God’s word.
23:27-28 Like devil, if one way doesn’t work Balak will try another.
24:1-2 Balaam is finally convinced that God means what He says and God continues to use him to bless Israel and curse their enemies.
24:3-9 The third oracle.
In verses 6-7 symbols of God’s blessings.
Agag = king of Amelekites
24:10-14 Balak will not let Balaam lead him on anymore. Balaam tries to justify himself but Balaam never said that God would bless Israel and not curse them and he did agree to go with the men to Balak (cf. 22:12-13).
Going to my people = went to his place (v. 25) may mean temporary place in Midian or if went home later returned
Latter days = time of Christ and His church (vv. 17-19)
24:15-19 The fourth oracle.
David would defeat Moab (2 Sam. 8:2) but this points to the greater David, Christ (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Star 2 Pet. 1:19; Scepter Gen. 49:10) and judgment of all who reject Him (Sons of tumult = Hb. Sheth or Seth = all men through Seth, then Noah Gen. 4:25; City = of mankind in organized rebellion against God, as Babylon, the Great Rev. 16:19).
The destruction was universal, extending to all nations, as is spelled out in the last three oracles.
24:20 The fifth oracle.
24:21-22 The sixth oracle.
24:23-24 The seventh oracle.
24:25 These two will join forces again against Israel. Balaam would help Balak seduce Israel so plagued (25; 31:16) and then would later die in battle against Israel with Midian (31:8).
Chapter Twenty-Five: Our Greatest Threat May Be The Enemy Within! 25:1-3 Acacia Grove = last stopping place east of Jordan River (Jos. 2:1; 3:1).
Balaam was not allowed by God to curse Israel but he advised Balak how he could seduce and destroy them (31:16; Rev. 2:14).
25:4-9 The leaders were the first to be held responsible but the followers were also held accountable.
According to 1 Cor. 10:8, 23,000 fell in one day.
This was a bold challenge to God and His servant Moses which could have led to the destruction of the whole nation were it not for the bold actions of Phinehas. The priest were to put to death anyone who trespassed in the tabernacle (3:10, 38; 18:7).
25:10-13 Phinehas was rewarded for his zeal (cf. Psalm 106:28-31).
25:14-18 These two coming together was no accident but an elaborate scheme to destroy Israel but the Midianites would be defeated by Israel (31).
This was the beginning of Israel’s fall into idolatry which would ultimately lead to their captivity in Babylon.
What enemies within us (evil thoughts and desires) may threaten our soul’s salvation? Sexual pleasure (Mat. 5:28-30), love of money (1 Tim. 6:6-10), greed (Eph. 5:5), works of the flesh like drunkenness, adultery, fornication, hatred, anger, jealousy, selfishness (Gal. 5:19-21), addiction (1 Cor. 6:12), love of the world (1 John 2:15-17).
Consider Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:21-23.
Chapter Twenty-Six-Twenty-Seven Verse 11: God Calls The Roll! 26:1-4 Census taken in anticipation of entering Canaan Land to determine military strength but also 1) to divide the inheritance (vv. 53-54) and 2) to show that the rebels did not enter the land (vv. 64-65, cf. vv. 9-11).
26:14 Compare with first census (1:23) shows 37, 100 less. Perhaps most of those killed in plague of chapter 25 were from Simeon as Zimri (25:14).
26:33 These daughters will come up later in the book (27:1-11; 36).
26:46 Only other mention of daughter in the census.
26:51 Total is 1820 less than first census (1:46).
26:55-56 The location of the territory was chosen by lot, while the size was determined by the number in each tribe.
27:1-4 These file complaint about distribution of the land.
27:5-11 God answers the complaint. This will bring up another complaint (concern that a family’s land will be lost to another tribe if given to daughters who marry out of tribe) to be further legislated in chapter 36 (such daughters had to marry within tribe).
As with first census this indicated that Israel belonged to God, that He knew and cared for each one. Here it also emphasizes that God will keep His promise to give each one of His people their place in the land. No one will be left out! At the same time no one who is outside of His number or has rebelled against Him in unbelief will get in!
God still keeps the roll and will call the roll up yonder some day. Are you numbered among God’s people (Acts 2:37-41, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23)? Are you in rebellion of unbelief (Rev. 2:10)? Will you hear your name when the roll is called up yonder?
Chapter Twenty-Seven Verses 12-23: There Comes A Time When We Have To Pass On The Torch Of Leadership To The Next Generation! 27:12 This would have encouraged Moses to know that the next generation would possess the land and give him satisfaction that he had brought them this far.
27:15-17 Here we see Moses is more concerned for the people than himself. The metaphor of the shepherd points to Christ (John 10; 1 Pet. 5:4).
27:18-21 Who in the Bible had no parents? Joshua, the son of Nun. Hb. Joshua = Gk. Jesus
Spirit (cf. 1 Pet. 1:11; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)
Lay hand on = appointment and transfer of authority
Not same place as Moses, subordinate to high priest in some affairs, Lord not speak directly to him in most holy place as he did to Moses.
Urim (and Thummim) cf. Exo.28:30
27:22-23 No complaint or delay on Moses’ part.
When is it time for a leader to step down or turn things over to others? Before he dies or has to leave so not left without leadership, when unable to do the work, when has lost the desire, when no longer cares, when someone else could do it better.
What attitudes/characteristics do you see in Moses that are needful for leaders today? Unselfish concern for the people, no jealousy, obedient.
What was done in this case to help the people accept their new leader? Followed God’s commands, done publicly before all, without complaint or question.
Is it true: “As the leadership goes, so goes the church”? Discuss.
Chapter Twenty-Eight-Twenty-Nine: Be Careful To Keep God’s Appointments! 28:1-2 “My” = they belonged to God and were offered to Him, therefore had to be according to His instructions and at His appointed time (see Lev. 1-7; 16; 23 for more details).
28:3 Daily = must not be omitted even when additional offerings were made (28:10, 15, 24, 31; 29:6). We are to live each day for the Lord (Luke 9:23; Rom. 12:1-2).
28:9-10 Weekly = every Sabbath or seventh day. The Christian Sabbath is not Sunday, but the rest we have in Christ (Mat. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:9-10; Rev. 14:13; 21-22). We are to assemble (Heb. 10:24-25) each week on Sunday to take the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7) and give to the church (1 Cor. 16:1-2).
28:11a Monthly = every new moon (cf. Col. 2:16), used lunar calendar but not worship moon (cf. Deu. 17:3).
28:16-18, 25 Passover = March/April. Christ is our Passover and we are to keep the feast in holiness (1 Cor. 5:7-8).
28:26 Pentecost = May/June. Points to the beginning of the church and the harvest of souls (Acts 2).
29:1 Trumpets (Rash Hashanah) = Sept/Oct. No one will miss the appointment of the blowing of the last trumpet (Heb. 9:27; 1 The. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:51-52).
29:7 Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) = Sept/Oct. Pictures Christ leaving heaven, dying for our sins and returning to glory (Phi. 2:6-11). He is our atoning sacrifice (1 John 2:2).
29:12 Tabernacles = Sept/Oct, stayed in temporary shelters/tents to remember wilderness wandering, offerings more extensive. We, too, are just travelers on our way home (2 Cor. 5:1; Phi. 3:20; 1 Pet. 2:11).
29:39-40 God is author of it all!
Chapter Thirty: Keep Your Word! 30:1-2 A matter of integrity which will effect one’s fellowship with God now and in eternity (Psa. 15:4; Mat. 12:36-37). Better to break vow if cause you to sin because then be doubly guilty (cf. Mat. 14:6-11).
30:3-5 Recognizes father’s jurisdiction over a minor dependent (v. 16) daughter (Eph. 6:1-3).
“day that he hears” indicates he cannot change his mind later.
30:6-8 Recognizes husband’s jurisdiction over his wife (Eph. 5:22-24).
30:9-15 Recognizes husband’s jurisdiction over wife before he dies or divorces his wife (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39). Neither death nor divorce change the status of a vow made while married.
Chapter Thirty-One: Vengeance Belongs To The Lord! 31:1-11 Midian used the Moabite women to seduce Israel into idolatry and fornication causing a great plague on Israel in which 24,000 were killed (Num. 25) so now God repays their evil deed (Rom. 12:19). Israel was not acting on their own (v. 1, 7; cf. 25:16-18). God explains His actions in Num. 33:55; Deu. 20:17-18; Jos. 23:12. How does God take vengeance today? Cf. Rom. 13:1-7
Led by Phinehas (v. 6; cf. 25:6-8)
Signal trumpets (Num. 10)
Balaam had counseled Midian to do this (v. 16).
This is what happens when man defies God (Gal. 6:7-8)!
31:12-20 “kept all the women alive” disastrous! Has God ever given us opportunity to get rid of our spiritual enemies and we want to keep them around?
31:26-30 Plunder divided in two halves: ½ to soldiers out of which they paid 1/500 to priests and ½ to congregation out of which 1/50 went to Levites. Do we support those who serve His spiritual house, the church, today? Cf. 1 Cor. 9:14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18
31:32ff The plunder was enormous! How much greater is our victory over Satan, sin and death through Jesus Christ? Cf. 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 2:14; Col. 2:15
31:48-52 The officers made an offering of gold to God because none of their men were missing in war. Again, enormous quantities of totaling about 11,000 ounces of gold.
How thankful are we to God for our victory in Jesus? Cf. 1 Cor. 15:57
Chapter Thirty-Two: Don’t Discourage God’s People From Receiving The Promise! 32:1-5 The Request: For the land on the east side of the Jordan
They looked at the present advantages, temporal benefits as today many are satisfied with the earthly, material things of the present rather than the eternal things of Christ (cf. Mat.6:19-21; 2 Cor. 4:16-5:1; Col. 3:4; 1 John 2:15-17)!
32:6-7 The Rebuke: To not discourage their brethren (cf. Heb. 12:1-2)
32:8-15 The Rehearsal: Of the rebellion of Israel at Kadesh
The new generation should learn from the past generation not to make the same mistake.
32:16-27 The Resolution: To go with Israel to conquer the land of Canaan before returning to the east side
32:28-42 The Result: Of agreement and possession of the land east of the Jordan
Of the 110,580 soldiers of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh (Num. 26) only 40,000 (Jos. 4:13) passed over the Jordan, leaving 70,580 at home to defend their families. Without these soldiers and the people of the 2 ½ tribes the original inhabitants of Canaan were not and needed not be run out. This led Israel into idolatry which ultimately led to their destruction.
Chapter Thirty-Three-Thirty Four: There Is An Inheritance For Those Who Pass The Test Of Life! 33:1-2 Starting points = breaking of camp or marching out
42 places = 42 generations from Abe to Christ (Mat. 1), 42 months of trial and suffering (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5). God knows everywhere we go and is able to provide, protect and deliver the faithful thru Christ (Rev. 2:10)!
Little known about most of these locations as they were wandering, lost in unbelief, rebellion and disobedience to God. Emphasizes insignificance, meaninglessness and loathsomeness of their wandering and of those who fail to keep faith today!
33:3-4, 38-39 Only two dates given for the journeys indicating 40 years = 4x10 = complete trial of man. This life is our test of faith!
33:50-56 God was the author of this extermination. He would not share the land with other gods. So heaven w/o sin and God alone is worshiped (Rev. 21:22-22:5).
34:1-2 Note the borders South – Wilderness of Zin (v. 3), West – Mediterranean Sea (v. 6, Philistines ruled here), North – Mount Hor (vv. 7-8), East – Jordan River (vv. 10-12, Sea of Chinnereth = lit. harp shape as the lake = Gennesaret = Tiberius = Galilee). These boundaries indicate safety, security and that God will fulfill His promise just as He said!
34:13-15 2½ tribes east of Jordan outside the boundaries where they preferred but not what God had called them to win. Many have renounced greater promised land of heaven for the inheritance this side of the Jordan of death!
34:16-29 Eleazar = God is helper, Joshua = Yahweh is salvation, Caleb = bold, Shemuel = heart of God, Elidad = God has heard, Bukki = mouth of Yahweh, Hanniel = grace of God, Kemuel = congregation of God, Elizaphan = God is protector, Paltiel = God delivers, Ahihud = brother of honor, Pedahel = God has saved. No name connected with a pagan god! Our promised inheritance is of the one true God, Yahweh (1 Pet. 1:3-9)!
Chapter Thirty-Five-Thirty-Six: Trust God To Provide And Protect! 35:1-8 The common land seems to be like a tire ring around the city starting at 1,000 cubits from the city and extending to 2,000 cubits.
These cities of refuge and for the Levites were appointed after the conquest by Joshua (Jos. 20-21).
35:11-12 Refuge from avenger (near kinsman to settle debts of deceased) for those who committed unintentional manslaughter. Contrast Temple of Diana protected criminals.
35:14-15 There were three cities of refuge on both sides of the Jordan that could be reached within a days journey from anywhere in Palestine (cf. Deu. 4:41-43; 19:1-13).
35:16-18, 30-33 Justice requires that murderers be put to death (cf. Gen. 9:6).
35:22-23 Unpremeditated killing
35:25 No trivial thing to kill even accidentally!
No atonement w/o death of high priest, as with Christ, our greater high priest!
35:26-27 As Joab killed Abner in the gate (2 Sam. 2)
The cities of refuge point to our refuge in the Lord (Psa. 46:1; Zec. 9:12; Heb. 6:18). The sinner flees to Christ for salvation and must abide there!
36:1-13 A question about a previous property law (cf. Num. 27) is asked. Rights of private property were an important means of support.
“My lord” shows respect
“Jubilee” applies to sales not inheritance; it only restores purchased properties not inherited properties.
This was a legitimate concern (v. 5). It is right to be concerned about inheritance. It is right to be conscious of what we owe to our ancestors and be careful stewards of what has been handed down to us. It is right to consider how our marriage may affect our inheritance (don’t lose all to spouse, marry in the faith).
May we be even more concerned about our spiritual inheritance!