NUMBERS – An Overview

This Book begins 2 years after the Jews were delivered out of Egypt and covered the next 38 years of their young history. It ends on the eve of their entrance into Canaan, the Promised Land. It could be called the “Book of Groanings” because it is one long saga of complaining and discontent. As a result, only 3 men of all the ones who left Egypt (Moses, Caleb, Joshua) would see that Land, and only Caleb and Joshua would enter it. The Book begins with a census (numbering) of all the tribes of Israel, hence its title name. At this point their number was very large, 2-3 million is the estimate. But by the time they reached the Promised Land, their numbers were reduced due to God’s judgments against their rebellions and complaints. So by this time, the number of people living in the Land of Canaan outnumbered the Jews.

God still produced a cloud by day and fire by night to lead the Israelis from place to place. If that cloud did not move, neither did the people. Complaints reached a peak when they tired of manna and longed for the food back in Egypt (this must have really hurt God), and then Miriam and Aaron rebelled against Moses’ authority. God came down in a cloud and rebuked those two and Miriam became leprous and had to leave the camp for 7 days. Aaron repented.

In Chapter 12 it says that Moses was the most humble of any man on earth – what a compliment.

Moses sent spies into the Land and they went out for 40 days and came back. They said the land is rich and has bountiful food, but the people had strong fortresses and some were physically huge. These huge ones were the “sons of Anak” but probably not physically related to the mysterious Nephilim from Genesis Chapter 6 since the Flood of Noah killed all but 8 humans. During the Post-Flood years, the term “Nephilim” probably simply referred to humans with bigger than average size. In other words, the name became a metaphor for bigness (see – see #11). As the spies along with the other people who stayed behind were confessing negative stuff and putting no faith in God, Caleb proclaimed that they could take the Land in spite of the fearful part of the spy report. This is why God allowed Caleb to be one of the two original people from Egypt to enter the Promised Land. He had faith in God to do it.

At this point things got worse. The people ignored Caleb and set out to appoint a new leader and ditch Moses, and return to Egypt! Whoa! They preferred captivity and horrible work conditions over trusting in the God that did all those miracles for their deliverance? Not good. Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground while Caleb and Joshua preached to the people. This did not help. The people started to pick up stones to stone Moses to death! So God Himself came and intervened on the behalf of those who believed in Him. He was about to destroy all of them when Moses intervened on behalf of the people and persuaded God to turn away His wrath. God said, however, that they will not enter the Land and that His glory will eventually cover the whole earth. That day will be something!

Some time later the doomed unfaithful (first generation) actually went forward against the word of Moses and tried to enter the Land, but they were slaughtered by the Canaanites and Amalekites. Then Korah and many others rebelled against Moses and God, so God, after Moses predicted this, opened up the earth and all the rebels along with their families were swallowed up in the earth down to Sheol (the nether world). As the people ran in fear, God struck down the remaining 250 rebels with fire. Quite a scene!

Moses’ Big Mistake (Chapter 20) – When the people needed water, God told Moses to speak to a rock and water would come forth. Moses, perhaps in his anger at the people, struck the rock not once but twice rather than simply speaking to it and obeying what the Lord told him to do. Moreover, just prior to striking the rock, Moses said to the people, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Notice two things here: 1) the beginning of the quote definitely reflects anger, James 1:20 says, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God,” and 2) Moses used the word “we” implying that he had something to do with the power that brought forth water. He, perhaps in a “Freudian slip” way was putting himself on an equal footing with God. This is quite serious and probably was the rationale God used to punish him by not allowing him to enter Canaan.

God reveals to Moses that it is time for Aaron to die. Moses brought him up to the mountain where he died and Israel mourned 30 days. Following his death, the people had various battle skirmishes with hostiles in the area. When they trusted in God, they fared well, but when they complained against Him, God sent “fiery serpents” to bite the people and many died. I wish I had a picture of those fiery serpents. I suspect evolutionists would classify them as a type of dinosaur if they saw them, but if they would ever find out the context of their mention, they would have to say something else because they cannot believe that man and dinosaurs lived together despite other evidence to the contrary. The earth is not billions of years old and evolution is a lie.