The wayyyyyy too brief overview of Numbers
Numbers is an interesting chapter, to say the least (it features a talking donkey!!). We get to witness the Lord’s everlasting forgiveness with a stubborn, fearful tribe not ready to receive His promises. Sound familiar? A lot of us, young adults, including myself, are just as stubborn and stuck in our ways against receiving the Lord too.
That’s where Numbers comes in to give us sunny hope of the blessings God has for following out His will. (…Or what happens if you don’t). Here’s a quick overview!
God’s people had a super hard time trusting in Him. This was even after witnessing the parting of the Red sea amongst countless other wonders.
Can you imagine doubting after seeing something so spectacular?
While wandering in the wilderness, Israelites found complaints in just about everything, from food to fear of enemies. Unfortunately for the Israelites, God’s patience with them began to run short.
Because of their whining, terrible punishments followed their complaints.
The Lord’s punishments ended up arguably worse than the plagues in Egypt and declared that the Israelites, who rebelled against God, would die in the wilderness. The worst part is that they would never see the land promised to them, but only their children would.
This is why the Israelites were forced to roam about for 40 years in the desert before reaching the land.
Burdens of Moses
Moses suddenly found himself carrying the burdens of 603,550 Israelites (not including the Levites).
It was solely his duty to relay the commands of the Lord to the people. While Moses struggled with the idea of leading so many people, the Lord did not expect him to do it on His own. He was there for Him every step of the way.
To help out, God then revealed to Moses how the 12 tribes should live amongst the midst of the Tabernacle.
Because the Israelites had such little faith, Moses began to find himself begging for the people to be spared by the Lord. God would listen and never did fully turn away from His people. He provided them food when needed, protection from enemies, and a guide to follow in the form of a cloud over the holy Tabernacle.
Finally, God leads the Israelites to the border of the promise land. Those who remained hopeful in the Lord were spared from His wrath. Believers such as Joshua and Caleb are promised entry into the promised land for their obedience. The promise God made to Abraham was also fulfilled. Abraham’s descendants were soon granted access into the land of Canaan.
And that’s Numbers quickly summed up for you! If you would like more information, the blog overview bible goes into greater detail on Numbers.
But let’s dive deeper into how to use these stories in our every day lives as young adults in today’s society!
Big Takeaway #1 – The Lord doesn’t make commands to punish but to protect you.
Numbers 2:2 – “The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding banners of their family.”
Here we can see how God gives strict orders to the Israelites on how to align themselves around the Tent of Meeting a.k.a the Tabernacle of Moses.
Only the tribe of Levi was allowed to set up their tents near the Tabernacle. They had the sole responsibility of caring for it. God’s orders to the Israelites were so stern, that if anyone other than the Levites were to bother the Tabernacle they would be put to death! As strict and crazy as that sounds, there is much bigger reasoning behind it.
God doesn’t bark away orders to make our lives miserable. His commands are out of love for our safety against unforeseeable enemies to come.
The big takeaway for us young adults from Numbers 2:2
Drop the stubborn attitude and learn to listen to the Lord!
You may think you have your future planned out and know what’s best for you. In reality, it’s impossible to pinpoint every ambush from the enemy. Only God knows how best to protect you from harm and will do anything in His power to keep you safe if you allow His will to be done.
Big Takeaway #2 – God is our guiding light and GPS.
Numbers 9:15 & 17 “From evening til morning the cloud above the Tabernacle looked like fire… Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites camped.”
The Israelites were tasked with packing up their belongings and families at a moment’s notice to follow the fiery cloud of God.
Sometimes the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for long stretches of time while some days it was only just that…days. Either way, the Israelites obeyed the commands of the Lord and hunkered down wherever He needed them to.
Could you imagine finally moving into a new home, signing all of the paperwork, and unpacking all of your clothes and furniture only to be told, “Hey, you gotta move again”?
As spoiled and lazy as most of us are nowadays (I’m no exception), this would be a total nightmare.
Would God really spin His people around in so many circles?
On the surface, things may appear that way but Moses and the Israelites understood God had a divine plan for each and every one of them. God is not only the guiding light and light in the darkness for the people metaphorically but also physically. We can learn from the Israelites and their obedience in trusting God since it makes perfect sense to want to follow the greatest GPS of all time rather than our flawed selves anyways.
The big takeaway for us young adults from Numbers 9:15 & 17
Sometimes God doesn’t always lead us in the quickest, easiest, or most straightforward paths towards our destinations.
As stressful and confusing as this may seem, you can rest assured knowing He will always lead you in the right direction no matter how bumpy the ride is at first. Follow his path no matter what and strengthen your faith in Him.
Big Takeaway #3 – Never doubt what the Lord can do big or small.
Numbers 11:23 – “The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”
To put things in context here, after some time wandering in the wilderness the Israelites began to whine and moan about missing the tasty delicacy of meat. These people were done with munching on manna (food from God) day in and day out.
In fact, they were so fed up they went as far as to cry out that they would be better off in Egypt… In slavery! Just to get a bit of meat!
For us in the 21st century, perhaps that cry would hit a little closer to home.
It would be pretty tough to give up steak tacos for years on end (sorry to my vegans out there… I still like my steak).
Still, nothing is ever worth rejecting what God has given you!
To show the Israelites the type of power He has to flip a situation upside down, God proclaimed he would send the Israelites so much meat to last an entire month that they would hate it and see it come out of their nostrils. Moses questioned this, as I think we all would. But God, as always, held true to His promise and made it happen.
The big takeaway for us young adults from Numbers 11:23
God is capable of things beyond our wildest dreams and His plans will always surpass our hopes and desires. Nothing on this planet is too small or too big for Him to accomplish.
Big Takeaway #4 – The Lord rewards those that stand up for him.
Numbers 14:30 – “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb and Joshua.”
The Lord delivered this message to the Israelites after their blatant disbelief in His power.
Prior to, Moses had sent spies out to scout out the new land the Lord had promised to them. After reports of dangerous tribes and warriors occupying the land got lose, the Israelites cowered in fear and cursed God for putting them in such a hopeless situation.
Only Caleb and Joshua stood tall in their faith of the Lord. For their tremendous faith, Caleb and Joshua were graciously rewarded by the Lord.
In today’s society, the world will do anything it possibly can to steal the Word of God out of life. You can even find yourself shunned or shied away from if you say “God bless you” instead of “bless you” after someone sneezes.
Despite this, God will always be most pleased with people who acknowledge Him and aren’t afraid to live out their faith.
The big takeaway for us young adults from Numbers 14:30
It goes to show that it’s not just about thinking it, writing it, or even saying it. But public action and putting yourself out there for the Lord brings him the highest pleasure and greatest growth.
Big Takeaway #5 – Even with opposition, allow God’s light to shine through you!
Numbers 23:11-12 – “Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you here to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!” He answered, “Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”
Balak, king of the Moab tribe, came up with a cunning plan to call upon Balaam, a highly respected prophet, to curse the Israelites. (Mainly so the Israelites couldn’t take up all the land from the Moabites.) But the plan turned out to not be so cunning after all once it blew up in Balak’s face.
Balaam receives an oracle from the Lord that foresees the future of the Israelites. Balak is then furious to hear that Balaam continues to talk of how the Israelites will be blessed and rich.
And of course, Balak is furious with this news after spending time building 7 altars, preparing 7 bull and ram sacrifices, and offering a wad of cash to Balaam! I mean wouldn’t you be?
But even with that powerful opposition breathing down his neck, Balaam does not waver in his message from the Lord. Instead he says something along the lines of, “Okay and what do you want me to do about it? This is coming from the Word of God, not me.”
The big takeaway for us young adults from Genesis 23:11-12
No matter the person in power’s wants, no matter the riches offered, no matter the opposition (your boss, friends, peers, family, etc.), always follow what God tells you to. Stand up for the Lord and what you believe is true in Him. Use his words as your own and allow him to use you to perform his works and spread his blessings and glory.
Up Next – Deuteronomy
Do you finally feel like your understanding the Bible? Are you excited to know more? Continue reading the next book, Deuteronomy, with us here!