…all who are able to go to war in Israel.
· 38 years earlier, while Israel was still camped at the foot of Mount Sinai, God ordered Moses to conduct a census, for the same purpose that’s stated here – for the organization of Israel (former slaves) into a military unit, a fighting force, capable of walking in the next stage of God’s purpose and plan for them as a nation.
o [Guzik] 38 years before Israel was organized enough; they just did not have enough faith to take the Promised Land. Organization is good, and the work of God can suffer from a lack of it; but the best organization can never replace bold trust in God.
· In the first census, Reuben counted 46,500 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 43,730 - a loss of 2,770 men (6%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Simeon counted 59,300 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 22,000. This was staggering loss of 37,100 men for this once-great tribe (a loss of 63%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Gad counted 45,650 men ready for war; 38 years later, they count 40,500. This was a loss of 5,150 fighting men (11%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Judah counted 74,600 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 76,500. This was a gain of 1,900 (3%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Issachar counted 54,400 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 64,300. This was a gain of 9,900 (18%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Zebulun counted 57,400 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 60,500. This was a gain of 3,100 (5%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Manasseh counted 32,200 ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 52,700. This was a remarkable gain of 20,500 (64%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Ephraim counted 40,500 ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 32,500. This was a loss of 8,000 men (20%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Benjamin counted 35,400 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 45,600. This was a gain of 10,200 men (29%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Dan counted 62,700 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 64,400. This was a gain of 1,700 men (3%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Asher counted 41,500 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 53,400 men. This was a gain of 11,900 (29%).
· In the first census, the tribe of Naphtali counted 53,400 men ready for war; 38 years later, they counted 45,400 men. This was a loss of 8,000 (15%).
…those who were numbered…
· 601,730 fighting men ready for war. A large number…but 38 years earlier, at the beginning of the Book of Numbers, the count was 603,550 – a difference of only .3%.
o We’d have expected Israel to grow significantly in that period of time; the planet’s population in that same period of time, between 1980 and the year 2000, grew from 4.421 billion to 6.16 billion – almost a 72% increase, in 40 years’ time.
o But instead of growing, they effectively stayed where they were – they stagnated.
§ [adapted from Guzik] The 38 years in the wilderness were years of no growth, no advance - just going in circles until the generation of unbelief had died and a generation of faith had arisen, a generation bold enough to take the Promised Land.
o The biggest tragedy was that the 38 years were, in effect, wasted years – no progress, no growth, and even though they pretty much stayed where they were, because they did not trust in God and obey Him the first time they were here at the border of the promised land, they lost 38 years that they can never, will never get back.
o There is no “neutral gear” in the Christian walk.
§ Even when we seem to be “spinning our wheels,” because we’re not boldly pressing forward, we are in effect falling behind, because we lose opportunities for growth and opportunities to see the Lord move in and through us that we can never, will never get back.
o The Lord restores the years the locusts have eaten; He is a great God who specializes in resurrection; but oh how much I could have done, and what I could have been, and where I presently could be, if only I’d trusted and obeyed instead of weaseled out and compromised!
The daughters of Zelophehad
· God protects His daughters here, in spite of the fact that the culture of the time would have said, “so sorry, too bad, stinks to be you, buh-bye…”
o The Old Covenant wasn’t completely “patriarchal” in the negative sense that it’s often portrayed as by anti-biblical critics.
o There were many, quite revolutionary protections for women built in to the Old Covenant – surely not the full protection and revelation we get in the New Covenant, but God meets us where we are and then brings us to where He is – both as individuals, and as nations, and as cultures.
§ For instance: A woman received a dowry from her father as a wedding present. Typically, the father required his potential son-in-law to provide much if not all of the dowry. The dowry’s purpose was to provide for the woman if her husband flaked out and left her or unexpectedly died.
§ In other cultures, the dowry was paid by the bride’s family to the groom’s family, as sort of an apology that now the family had the added burden of another worthless female to feed.
§ God’s view of His daughters is much different than the world’s view!
· The remarkable thing about the daughters of Zelphehad’s request was that they made it in anticipation - in faith - of coming into the inheritance of land in the Canaan.
o That this was a real issue - at this time, before they were walking in the Promised Land - for the daughters of Zelophehad shows they were real women of faith, concerned about dividing up what they did not yet have in their hands, but knew they would possess by faith.
The morning offering
· Burnt offerings – the offerings of total consecration
o Significant that it’s the first and the last offerings of every day.
Pentecost (Feast of Weeks)
· The primary meaning of the Feast of Pentecost was not atonement, but thanksgiving for the harvest. Yet every feast of Israel was to carry with it the idea of atonement. Just the same, our own life should be lived in constant awareness of the atonement made for us.
· [Guzik] God required so many animals and such expensive sacrifice because the Feast of Tabernacles was a happy memorial of God’s faithfulness to Israel during the Exodus. The sacrifice of so many animals was a demonstration of the richness of God’s provision to them through the years in the wilderness.
So Moses told the children of Israel everything,
· [Guzik] Significantly, now as Israel was on the threshold of the Promised Land, they needed to be reminded of the essential place of sacrifice. Promised Land people know they need an atoning sacrifice and they remember it often.
Just as the Lord commanded
· For Israel to obey what God commanded in Numbers 28 and 29, it meant that every year, the priests sacrificed on 1,086 lambs, 113 bulls, 32 rams, more than a ton of flour, and some 1,000 bottles of oil and wine behalf of the nation.
· The most prominent animal of sacrifice was the lamb. This is a obvious prophetic reference to Jesus, who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
· All this sacrifice did not include the sacrifices made by individuals or households. The priests and Levites were clearly busy with the job of sacrifice, and it was fulfilled at considerable expense.
· In the days of Jesus, there is record of 255,600 Passover lambs being sacrificed at one Passover just by individuals and households.
· Significantly, none of it was enough! Not one of these hundreds of thousands of sacrifices over the centuries could ever take away a person’s sin; that had to wait until a perfect sacrifice was offered - the sacrifice of Jesus.