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Overview of Numbers

The book of Numbers is the fourth in the book of Moses, following after Leviticus and before Deuteronomy. It was written in 1405 B.C. and the theme of the book is wandering in the wilderness. The book documents the children of Israel as they continued to spend time in the wilderness in preparation for entry into the Promised Land. Numbers shows how through sin and rebellion, those who left Egypt through Exodus were prevented from entering the Promised Land. God instructed the children in His laws, obedience, and holiness in order to prepare a new generation that would gain entry to the land of milk and honey.

In Numbers chapters 1 and 26, a census is taken which is how the book received its name. Though it would appear that the book would focus primarily on the census, it is the experiences of the Israelites wandering through the wilderness that the book describes. Exodus and Numbers were written in chronological order and the book picks up where Exodus concludes. The children of Israel spent approximately one year at Mount Sinai, the same mountain where Moses spoke with God and received the Ten Commandments. After migrating from Mount Sinai, the children of Israel arrived at Kadesh. The journey was supposed to be brief, but the people complained, rebelled, and continued in sin. What was meant to be a short stay ended up taking 39 years. By the time the children of Israel reached Moab, they were replaced by a new generation. In Numbers 26, the reigns of leadership passed from Moses to Joshua along with the promise that Joshua would lead the children into the land of destiny. In Numbers 27, we read how Moses laid his hands on Joshua and transferred leadership.

Numbers is an important book as it explains the importance of faith in pleasing God. The New Testament refers to Numbers in 1 Corinthians 10: 5-11, Hebrews 3:16-4:6, 2 Peter 2:15-16, Jude 11, and Revelation 2:14. The bronze snake mentioned in Numbers 21: 7-9 is referred to by Jesus Christ in John 3:14-16. There are many New Testament principles found in Numbers that are applicable to modern day Christians. Primarily, it is the importance of faith, obedience, and holiness for those who wish to enter the blessings of God. This lesson is succinctly stated in Hebrews 11:6 which states, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Additionally, Numbers shows us that when one generation fails to live up to God’s expectations, He will raise up another generation willing to complete the task and fulfill his promises.

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