Introductory Note: Leviticus dealt exclusively with the Laws given to Moses. Exodus happens in one year. Leviticus in one month. Numbers in 38 years! Numbers opens with the people still at Mount Sinai, preparing to continue their journey to the Promised Land.
We will be taking a much more in-depth (and hopefully relaxed!) approach to the study of Numbers, taking a full 8 weeks or 2 months to read through it and digest and study it. The reading should not be quite so overwhelming as in the study of Leviticus.
Summary of passage: Numbers 1: God spoke to Moses at the Tabernacle two years after the Israelites left Egypt. He directs Moses to take a census of the people, divided up into their Tribes. They also counted those who were eligible to serve in Israel’s army. The Levites were not included in the census or the draft as they were God’s chosen to care for the Tabernacle.
Numbers 2: God directs the Israelites to camp around the Tent of Meeting within his own tribe with the Levites and the Tent of Meeting in the center.
Numbers 3: God gives directions for the tribe of the Levites. They are to forever care for the Tent of Meeting and the tabernacle. God has chosen them in place of the firstborn and told Moses to count them. Each descendant of a son has a different task and items they must care for. There were more sons than Levite sons (273 more) so the 273 had to be redeemed with 5 shekels for each one and given to Aaron and his sons.
Numbers 4: God told Moses to specifically take census of the Kohathites of the tribe of Levi who are to care for the most holy things. The Gershonites of the tribe of Levi are to carry the curtains of the tabernacles. The merriness are to carry the frames of the tabernacle. They were counted as well.
3a) To take inventory of the men eligible to serve in the army.
b) They are God’s chosen to are of the tabernacle and all of its furnishings.
d) 2 million
e) God promised Abraham to make his descendants as numerous as the stars. He promised to give them the Promised Land and to defeat their enemies. Having a large army goes a long way towards that.
4a) The Tent of Meeting or the tabernacle
b) This would be a huge reminder that God (who dwelled in the Tent of Meeting) is to be the center of their lives.
c) Personal Question. My answer: God mostly except when I fall into selfishness. I hope my family and friends would agree with me.
5a) Three. Eleazar and Ithamar and Aaron (the high priest)
b) The tribe of Levi. “They are to perform duties for him (Aaron) and for the whole community by doing the work of the Tabernacle. They are to take care of the furnishings.”
c) At the foot of Mount Sinai when the Israelites had made the golden calf. They were set apart because they repented at the foot of Mount Sinai and answered Moses call when he asked for those who “is for the Lord to come to him.” They did as Moses commanded.
d) Personal Question. My answer: That each had a role to play and an assigned task and all contributed to the care of God’s tabernacle and the worship of God in the process. We all have a role to play; the trick is figuring out that role in your church.
Conclusions: Good lesson as we see God continue to prepare the Israelites for what they will face ahead (enemies) and what they will do once they arrive in the Promised Land (worship Him).
It’s important for us to take inventory as well–see where we are at in our walk with God and make plans to grow with Him. God was preparing His people for what was to come as He does us.
Everyone had a role to play in God’s plan. No one is left out. Each role is dependent on the others doing their roles as well. Good passage for us when we question God’s role for us–He does have a plan for each and every one of us.
End Notes: Numbers 1: Note how the count is done by families. From the beginning God emphasized the importance of family.
There are still 12 Tribes of Israel as Joseph was given a double inheritance (Genesis 48:5-6) by Jacob even though the tribe of Levi was exempt as the keepers of the tabernacle.
Note Nahshon (verse 7) is the same as the one in Matthew 1:4–Jesus’ line.
In Numbers 26 at the end of this time in the desert, this census is repeated and the number of men is almost the same. We’ll see why as we study the book of Numbers.
Numbers 2: Before the tents were pitched randomly. Here, God changes all that.
Judah, the tribe of Jesus, is first and closest to the tabernacle on the east. Their standard (flag) is said to be a lion. Reuben is closest on the south with their standard said to be a man. Ephraim was first on the west side, their standard said to be a calf. Dan was first on the north side, their standard being an eagle. The Levites in the middle the closest to the tabernacle. This was the marching order as well.
These are the animals that surround God’s throne in Revelation 4:7.
God is a God of order. Nothing is arbitrary. Everything is planned even if we don’t see it.
Numbers 3: Confusion point: Only descendants of Aaron could be priests. There were other Levites who were not descended from Aaron. We see in this chapter they were assigned other roles in relation to the tabernacle, but they could never become priests. These Levites were the support that allowed Aaron and his sons to minister to the Israelites–just like in a church today.
Levi’s three sons: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari are the heads of the Levite tribe.
Aaron and Moses camped on the east side of the tabernacle, closest to the entrance.
There is a discrepancy here in this chapter in the number of Levites, which scholars attribute to a translation error.
The number of firstborns is low; hence, scholars think this is the number of firstborns born since leaving Egypt.
Numbers 4: Only those between the ages of 30 and 50 did the actual work in the sanctuary. This was considered the prime of a man’s life and God wanted the best.
Aaron and the priests had to pack the furniture itself since it was considered holy before the Kohathites could transport it. This is why the ark and things were transported with poles since it was forbidden for non-priests to touch these items. Eleazar was appointed by God to be in charge of the furnishings of the tabernacle as the now eldest son of Aaron.
Ithamar supervises the coverings of the tabernacle, which is the responsibility of the Gershonites.
Fun Fact: The Hebrew title of Numbers is “In the Wilderness” as it covers the time the Israelites are In the Wilderness.
Fun Fact: “The Lord spoke to Moses” is repeated in Numbers over 150 times in 20 different ways.