Numbers 1, 2

First off, a congratulations to those of you who are reading along as we move into the fourth book of the Bible.  We jumped part way in, but we have completed our first full book with Leviticus.  Moving on!

There are many nice things about having a study Bible, but sometimes it strips me of my ignorance and clues me into a controversy that I was happily unaware of.  And I don’t know about you, but controversies surrounding the Bible can be difficult and make me very uneasy.   There are two notes in my study Bible that point to the same controversy- 603,550 men is too many. They have several reasons why they think it’s not possible that this number is accurate, and then several attempts to try and explain how it could be accurate.  So after reading the two chapters, and I stopped and asked God, “why would you put this in here?” The numbers don’t seem to be of vital importance, so why include them knowing that they will confuse people?

I have two ideas.  First, there are plenty of things that we interpret with our own perspectives and human understanding. And we know from plenty of Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled that we don’t always read things how God is going to fulfill them.  I think we foolishly come across things like this expecting that we can find a human, rational explanation.  Sometimes there simply isn’t one. Sometimes it only makes sense with God’s reasoning, not ours.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that God isn’t bound by human understanding.  I think this can be a faith challenge for us.  Are we only going to believe things that our unanimous minds can understand?  As Christians, we have significant rifts in our family relationships because people have searched for human understanding on different topics and ended up on different pages. And I ask, does it really matter? Will the explanation for this number really matter when we’re standing in front of Jesus in heaven?  I don’t think so.  So let me encourage you to not get distracted from the real point when we find things that require divine explanations instead of human ones. And thank God that He does things that we can’t understand. 

The second thing is I felt like God responded to my question and said “it’s not about the numbers.”  So if the main point isn’t about the numbers, then why are they in there? If they’re not the main point, they must help make the main point.  Now, like I’ve said- I’m no Old Testament theologian and so I’m sure that there are much wiser out there that can pull incredibly significant things from here. I will learn a lot from them.  But here is an observation of mine.  

God has Moses count the tribes, and then groups them together.  Do you remember the promise to Abraham about making him the father of many nations and that His number would greatly increase? Now I remember that, so I’m sure the Israelites did too.  What if this census became a competition between clans. A version of who is the favorite. If it was part of God’s promise in return for obedience and following Him, I would be in the crowd keeping track if my clan was larger than others and therefore more holy.  But when God organizes how His army moves forward, they aren’t ranked by quantity.  Now, if He is picking four tribes to be in charge of others, I would guess that He picked the leaders to be the ones that He had watched and deemed as worthy.  And trustworthy.  Simeon and Zebulun are the third and fourth largest tribes, but are in the camps of Reuben and Ephraim which are ranked 8th and 10th in size.  Furthermore, the Levites are given a very honorable and ‘holy’ role, but weren’t counted.  In our eyes, the biggest and strongest would get the top spots, maybe this is just another reminder that God judges the heart instead.  Just a thought.  Like I said- I’m no theologian.

Tomorrow’s Reading: Numbers 3, r

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