Numbers Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Exodus with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Numbers 1

  1. The largest counts came from Judah and Dan. I find this intriguing, because when you get to Judges, I believe it was Dan who brought the most bad things into Israel (e.g. idolatry) and Judah brought the best things (e.g. deliverance from enemy). Not 100% sure on that. But if it holds, then it shows that your strength can be used for great good or great evil (since they were the 2 largest tribes in Num 1)
  2. I love the attention given to the Lord and making sure He is pleased in Num. 1:47-53. Israel could have used many more troops from Levi, but instead, God wanted those men to ensure the Lord was properly worshipped. Likewise, all of our spiritual warfare will not be successful if we lose sight of pleasing the Lord and worshipping Him.

Num 1-4

I am challenged by the fact that they are making all these provisions for when/how to camp, when/how to move, and when/how to war…and the majority of the time is taken up with provisions for tending to the Lord and His presence in the tabernacle. How lopsided we’ve become when time tending to the Lord is a small piece or after thought.

Num 6 (with some Num 13 & 14 mixed in)

I have been struck first in seeing how God really sets apart people groups and people for him. First, the Levites (ch1-4), and then with the Nazarites and their vow (ch. 6).

I found it interesting the famous benediction “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace,” follows the Nazirite vow in ch. 6.

The point being here, God is calling His people to be set apart. To be Holy. The same calling He has for us today. Thankfully, without all the same rules and regulations but He is still looking for the faithful few. He found that in Caleb especially & also Joshua (Ch. 13 & 14). Caleb reminds me of Noah in this way. When seemingly everyone else was doubting he was faithful. Then God steps in and keeps him (and Joshua) as a remnant (14:38).

Num 11

See More Graves of Craving

Num 15

The Lord’s words to Moses in ch. 15:39-41 hit me hard:

“And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes which you are inclined to whore after.** So you shall remember and do my commandments and be holy (there it is again), to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”

Num 16

I loved Num 16:46-48 – namely how they rushed to make atonement so he could stand “between the dead and the living” and the plague would be stopped (v. 48). I read that passage and saw this vision of God running to “interpose His precious blood” (from “Come Thou Fount” lyrics). And that He brought mercy to us sinners when we deserved death. This image of Him running to give us life (like Aaron did) was very touching.

Num 17

I have was really touched by Numbers 17!! Wow, that blessed me so much.
Consider:

  • they were trying to discern who was God’s appointed leaders. So what did they look for?
  • they took staffs (things that have no possibility of life growing from them, since they are cut off the root and have no fruit growing from them)…
  • then they put the staffs in the tabernacle, where they had to endure a cold, dark night…
  • THEN…God proved that Levi was appointed to minister before Him…HOW?…
  • By making the staff sprout “buds…blossoms…ripe almonds”. TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE. This is a work of God alone! Further…
  • If you look at Exodus 37:18-19, almond buds and blossoms were part of the lampstand. AND…
  • If you look at Rev. 1:20, the lampstand is a picture of the church.

OK…I’ll try to connect all this…

The way I see it is that God looks especially for fruit to be produced in His chosen leaders/ministers. The sign of being a priest of God (which all the church is – 1 Pet. 2:9), is that we produce fruit. Further, we produce fruit that would otherwise be impossible to produce. A staff is dead at both ends. Yet it was able to produce fruit. This is impossible! Do you think you can manufacture love, joy, peace, patience, etc. … all the way to “self-control” (Gal. 5) by yourself?? Impossible!! You can’t do this. It is an act of God in your life, and it shows you are qualified to minister to Him if you do this (and only those with this special fruit of His indwelling Spirit will be able to minister to Him truly).

Further…it had to endure a dark, cold night (I guess I’m assuming it was cold) in the tabernacle. This fruit comes impossibly, and especially at dark times in our life. Fruit of Christ/Christ’s Love produced in dark times is probably the best indicator that someone is a true Christian (exactly what Rom. 5:3-5 indicates).

Lastly, this picture is not just on Aaron’s / Levi’s staff. It perfectly matches God’s design for His lampstand, which is a picture of His church (Rev. 1:20). That is, we are His light in darkness. So it gives further picture that this is what should happen in all of us. Can you make it happen by your will power and strength?! God forbid!! It has been and will always be impossible. That’s how we know it is God at work in you.

Num 20

I just read chapter 20 and it’s crazy! I know many of us know the story of God keeping Moses out of the promised land but when you really think about it being for striking the rock 2x, and then the fact not only did he not enter, but Aaron dies soon after for being an accomplice in this. Basically, they are severely punished because of their unbelief and this is how seriously God takes this. See Ch.14:11 and God saying “how long will they (Israelites) not believe in me?”

Just crazy when you really think about all that Aaron and Moses actually did in faith and for the Lord that they both died without seeing the promised land.

A powerful symbolism here (to shed some new light):

  • At first, Moses was told to strike the rock so water would flow out (Ex. 17).
  • 1 Cor. 10 tells us “that Rock was Christ” (v. 4).
  • And John 7 has Jesus indicating that the water that came out was His Spirit (John 7:37-39).
  • So the rock was struck and water was given in Exodus 17, just like Jesus was crucified and the Holy Spirit poured out to us.

….BUT IT GETS BETTER…

  • In Ex. 17, the Hebrew word for “rock” is a “sunken rock”. In Num 20, the word is an “exalted rock”. So Ex. 17 you clearly have a picture of Christ’s humiliation and crucifixion (as the rock was a type of Him). But in Num 20 you get a picture of Him as now exalted.

So…How do we receive His Holy Spirit today, now that He is exalted? We speak to Him, and ask Him for this (Luke 7:11).

What was Moses told to do in Num 20? Speak to the rock!! The picture holds really tight.

But when Moses struck the rock, the picture shows him metaphorically “crucifying Jesus” all over again. In Hebrews 6:6 we read of people unable to come to God’s promised land because they would be “crucifying the Son of God all over again”. These are people who, I believe, are guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit and totally turning away from God without repentance.

Anyway…

It shows that, sadly, the picture is consistent of Moses “striking the rock” when it was already struck in Ex. 17, and thus, metaphorically, crucifying Jesus all over again, which means he can’t come in the Promised Land.

OK… all of that picture doesn’t mean God had no heart for Moses, though it does show that God does not show favoritism (similar to Exod 4 when God threatened to kill Moses if his son wasn’t circumcised).

But take a look at Matt. 17:3 – “Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus [in the Promised Land!]” …God brought Moses there after all, just not as quick. 

Num 30

Quick thing:
I love Num 30!!!
It gives me so much confidence in prayer. God is my Father, Christ is my husband. Thus we can pray to God: “Lord, please trump what I plan to do here. Be my husband and Father to say, ‘that’s not a good idea’…veto my bad plans like they were commanded to do in Num 30.”

I just don’t trust myself but am glad God is there to speak for or against my plans like a safety net that keeps me from error.

Num 32

Num 32 challenges me in this way:
Though the 2.5 tribes found rest for themselves already (East of Jordan), they still were going to work and sacrifice their lives for the other tribes to find rest, too (West of the Jordan).

I think of us who are Christians as those who already found rest for our souls. It’s easy to think we should just sit back and relax. Instead, may we labor, war, and sacrifice our lives so that many others will come to rest in Christ as well!

Num 35

Before advancing to Deut, I wanted to share a quick thing that touched me from Num 35 ~
In this chapter, I was reflecting how we could do such better as a society if we adopted these standards of justice (versus imposing our own warped standards that originate from us). Namely (in no particular order):

  • intent DOES matter – even when dealing with murder, it is a world of difference if they intentionally meant to murder or if it was an honest accident. I think of this in some of the “new rules” of racism, if I may call them that. Namely, you are guilty if you offend others, regardless of your intent. Not true according to God’s word.
  • look for 2-3 witnesses to establish fault – it’s not enough to have 1 person give their “read” on the situation; we need 2-3 independent sources to recognize where the fault truly is
  • we should make provisions to protect people who hurt others without intending to do so (like they had cities of refuge for the one who killed without intending)
  • simultaneously, it is good to give space when such hurt happens, because the feelings are so raw in the other ones involved
  • and, if the unintentional offender violates giving such “space” between them and the one who was hurt, then it’s kind of on them if those hurt seek revenge (at least in 1 sense, because they weren’t careful to keep distance when they knew raw emotions were at play)
  • finally, if the intent was indeed to cause hurt (murder, in this case), they are clearly guilty and should be judged as such (thankfully – even when we are guilty of such things, Christ died for that too, so we can repent and receive the death penalty via Christ taking it for us…blessed be the Lamb!)

I know I’m taking some liberties in what it actually says, but I’m trying to consider some of the principles at play. And I do think if we started adopting more of these principles it could bring radical change for the better in our current divisive society.

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