Numbers Part One: Dive
THIS IS PREACHING GOLD!
Have you ever sat in a sermon and thought, where are they getting all this cool information from? You know what I mean, the knowledge about the Passover that aligns with Jesus’ death, the understanding of the Levites which aligns to our worship today, the clouds movements, the quail from God, the bad report from exploring Canaan “we looked like grasshoppers in their eyes and therefore in ours” about vision and faith, the talking donkey - well ponder no more, this is all from Numbers. This book is preaching gold and you are going to love it!
As you read Numbers, in the beginning, it can get a little “listy” (creating new words now!) it is called Numbers after all but just keep reminding yourself that this is the foundation for the Old Testament. Every time your brain goes to ‘why do I need to know this’ remind yourself that this will open up a fresh understanding of all Jesus did. It’s establishing and building a solid foundation, keep reading. When the preacher preaches on the cloud and moving with God when he moves – you will know that he is talking about Numbers 9:15-23, when they preach on Quail from the Lord, you will be able to write in your Bible Numbers 11, when they talk about the Water from the rock in the desert, you will rise and shout Numbers 20!
You are going to love reading this incredible book: I can imagine every Pastor and leader reading the words of Moses in Numbers chapter 11 – and saying ‘ditto’ to every word Moses says.
Imagine being Aaron and Miriam and being called out of your tent in Chapter 12 and “The Lord coming down in a pillar of cloud” and God speaking directly to you about complaining. It’s like the moment when you get called into the Principal's office but 1000 times worse! They get caught out by God. That stops you from complaining right now – doesn’t it! God burns with anger in defence of Moses! Did you notice the weird little verse in 12:3, read it now. Why did the most humble man on earth write that he was the most humble man on earth - that’s not very humble!! Most scholars believe that Moses clearly didn’t write this otherwise it would contradict the very statement, most scholars believe that this was added later to the text to make a point. It points out that Moses was humble and didn’t deserve these allegations, and because of that God stepped in and defended him! God stepped in when his closest companions (his brother and sister) were complaining about him! Surely God will defend you in your times of need!
Then the moment that changed their world forever – Chapter 13 – Exploring Canaan. Take in the details as you read the first list, I was like – um isn’t there supposed to be a Joshua. You know Joshua and Caleb came back with the good report. But don’t fear keep reading 13:16 lets us know that (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua) don’t miss these little details when you read this incredible book. And lastly Dreamworks didn’t come up with a talking donkey in the movie ‘Shrek’ – God did it first in Numbers 22!
Let me give you some quick things that I love about Numbers:
God is into details: God loves details, which comforts me as I am a detail person and at times I feel very unspiritual. I once had a lady try and cast out my organisational gift because it was unspiritual, it didn’t work, I am still super organised and spiritual! It’s a gift from God. As you read Numbers you can see how many times God mentions little details. This shows us how he loves being involved in the intricacies of our lives, he doesn’t just want to be in the big picture but in every detail. He loves the details!
God is into order: look at all the order and instructions in Numbers. I know some people think that the Holy Spirit is spontaneous, without order, we are just flowing with the Spirit here people! Their lives are so chaotic and seemingly ‘super spiritual’ but I think being spiritual and Holy Spirit led is not manic or chaotic. God is found in the order of systems and structures, disciplines of life and the seemingly mundane as well as the spontaneous encounters of God!
Being obedient to God is inconvenient: Think about Chapters 1-4 and all the Burnt offerings, they take time to prepare and offer, look at moving the Tabernacle every time the cloud moved: 9:15-23 – sometimes they set up the tabernacle for only one day and then the cloud moved on. Take note of words like “they would set out” these take such little time to read but the implications of these words are massive, setting out meant packing down the tabernacle with all its details and intricacies and resetting it up when the cloud stopped. The men of Korah that rebelled against Moses and it ended up with 250 of the men dying, when you study that, they in fact were the ones that had to pack the tabernacle down and wrap all of the holy things of God. And they started getting sick of it and whinged and complained to others and you can read how that worked out for them in Numbers. Moving with God is inconvenient at times but we need to know that he knows the journey and he knows best, keep your heart and mouth sweet. It’s about being obedient in the inconvenient!
God loves numbers and patterns: I LOVE reading the Bible and finding the patterns and numbers found in it. Now let me put a warning on this – don’t take this too far. I have read some articles that have completely manipulated the numbers totally out of context, I mean just read some writing on Revelations and you will know what I mean. But in Numbers don’t miss the numbers and the parallels found in the New Testament (pun intended!) 12 Tribes of Israel – 12 disciples, 70 appointed as elders – 70 sent by Jesus (Luke 10), 40 years of the wilderness – 40 days Jesus walked in the wilderness – so many more in this incredible Book as you read it you will find these hidden gems ☺
God gets annoyed too: I love that God gets frustrated and annoyed in Numbers, I know that sounds weird but he is so involved, invested and with this community (like he is with your life!) so he is allowed to get annoyed when the people start whining and complaining. If he was a distant God that we had to interrupt to get him to take notice of us, he wouldn’t be frustrated at our complaining. He wouldn’t care, but God is involved and invested in this community, so when they whinge, he takes it personally! Because he is personally invested he is personally offended. Which makes me laugh in Chapter 11 when he loses it and gives them manna ‘until it comes out of their nostrils and makes them loathe it all because they whinged about not having meat! (Numbers 11:20) Don’t get offended in Numbers when God gets offended, he is personally in love with these people, taking care of their needs, giving them life instructions and so he is going to get personally offended when they reject and complain! Especially when going into the land that he promised for their good!
You are going to love reading Numbers, get involved in this community upon which we are based. This is the foundational, family history for all Christians. Understand the holiness of God, get confused by the different trumpet blasts in chapter 10 and start your list today of the top five things you loved about this book.
This week we have the honour of having guest writer Dr Kyle Keimer writing for us on our Deep Dive! Dr Keimer is a Lecturer in the Archaeology of Ancient Israel. His research interests include ancient Near Eastern warfare and its relationship to geopolitical and socioeconomic developments, historical geography, state formation in the ancient Near East, and the Hebrew Bible, in particular the Pentateuch and the book of Isaiah. To read his post, click on the preview below!