The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine on you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

What do you think of when I speak of the book of Numbers? A lot of boring genealogy? The taking of a census? A book for tax accountants and mathematicians? It sounds about as exciting as falling off a log. And yet, this IS an exciting book.

It is a book of successes and a book of failures. It is a book of endurance under testings. It is a book which teaches us lessons for wisdom for our journey in the wilderness.



1. Title of the Book.

Our English Title "Numbers" is translated from the title found in the Greek Septuagint.

a. The Greek Title: ariqmoi ("Numbers").

The book received this name from the two numberings which took place within its pages. And yet, there is a lot more in this book than the mere recording of a census. There are 36 chapters in this book. Each census takes up only one chapter.

b. The Hebrew Title: BaMidbar ("In the Wilderness").

This original title for this book is taken from the first verse of the first chapter.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai... (Numbers 1:1).

This is an appropriate title. Numbers is the book that tells us what happened during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

2. Place in the Pentateuch.

Each of the Five Books of Moses had a special purpose to the people who were living in that day.




Sets forth Israel's relation with the Covenant God, both as Creator of the universe, as well as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Relates the narrative of how God redeemed His people from their slavery in Egypt. He is pictured as entering into a covenant with His people whom He has purchased as His priced possession.


Deals with the question of how men are to approach the Covenant God. It outlines the sacrifices and the forms of worship.


Since there is very little historical narrative in Leviticus, it takes up the historical narrative that Exodus left off.

Numbers is written at the close of the Wilderness Wanderings. That tells us something about the recipients of this book. They were not the same generation which had left Egypt. They are a new generation. The old generation has died in the wilderness. Moses now challenges the new generation to fulfill the covenant made by their fathers, and not to fall in the way that their fathers fell.

There is a lesson here. It is that there is always a need to teach the old truths to the new generation.

3. Contrast with Leviticus.



The believer's worship.

The believer's work.



Our spiritual position.

Our spiritual progress.

Ceremony in the sanctuary.

History in the wilderness.

4. Outline of the Book of Numbers.

1:1 10:10


10:11 14:45


15:1 21:41


22:1 36:13


Preparation for the Journey

The Test

Wilderness Wanderings

End of the Journey

The Old Generation

The New Generation

Several Weeks

38 Years

Several Months

Mt Sinai

Mt Hor

Mt Nebo

5. Occasion for Writing.

The book of Numbers is written on the plains of Moab at the close of the Wilderness Wanderings. It covers both the history and the reason for those wanderings.

The book begins with the numbering of the people of God as they are called to His service. The standard of holiness for that service is outlined in the following chapters.

The people of God failed in that service and, as a result, were condemned to die in the wilderness. Now a new generation has arisen. They are also numbered. They are also called to the service of the Lord. They will also be tested. And they will also be given a standard of holiness.

This book is written to prepare this second generation of Israelites for that service. The first generation has failed and died. What will the second generation do?



The Preparations for the Journey

The Camp as a whole (1:1 - 4:49).

Individual preparations (5:1 - 10:10).

Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt (Numbers 1:1).

Exodus 40:17 tells us that the Tabernacle was completed on the first month of the second year following the Exodus from Egypt. This means that the Laws which make up the book of Leviticus were given within the space of that first month.

A month has now passed since the glory of the Lord descended upon the Tabernacle. It is now time to continue the journey. But first, the Lord instructs Moses to number the people.

1. The Numbering of the People (Numbers 1-4).

The fighting men of Israel who were over the age of 20 were numbered at over 600,000 (Numbers 1:45-46). If this number is correct, then it would mean that the nation itself must have numbered upwards of 2 million.

Why did God command this census to take place? And why is it recorded in the pages of the Bible? Is this merely to give us a bit of mathematical trivia? No. I think that there are several reasons for this numbering.

Chapter 3 begins with the familiar formula: "These are the records of the generations of Aaron and Moses" (3:1).

This introduces a special blessing which was to be enjoyed by the tribe of Levi.

Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 "Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every first-born, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine. 13 For all the first-born are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the first-born in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the Lord." (Numbers 3:11-13).

Due to the plague of the first-born in Egypt, all firstborn males are the legal property of the Lord. However, He takes as a substitute the priestly tribe of Levi.

Because Levi holds this special position, a special census is taken of all of the members of the tribe of Levi in chapter 4.

2. Purgings and Presentations (Numbers 5-9).


Purgings for God

The Unclean


The Immoral


Presentations to God

Nazarite Vows


Offerings from Leaders


God's Presence in the Voice & at the Lampstand.



Cleansing of Levites



Cleansing at Passover


God's Presence in the Cloud and announced by Trumpets.

The word "Nazarite" is taken from the Hebrew root nazar, meaning "to separate." It is a vow of separation.

This chapter closes with a special blessing for Israel.

The Lord bless you, and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine on you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance on you,

And give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26).

In 1979, a small silver scroll was excavated from a tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The scroll had been rolled up and made into a tiny cylindrical amulet. When it was unrolled, it was found to contain this same priestly benediction.

The scroll has been dated to the 7th century B.C. and is our oldest copy of Scripture.

It culminates with Moses hearing the voice of the Lord within the Tabernacle.

Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him. (Numbers 7:89).

Throughout the Psalms, the Lord is known as the "One who sits between the cherubim." This was the throne of the Lord.

We have found many ancient wall paintings of Egyptian thrones from this era. It is very common to see the pharaoh pictured sitting upon a throne which had as its two armrests the images of two four-legged winged creatures.

This lampstand was fashioned into the shape of a tree and the lamps were in the form of flowers.

For every first-born among the sons of Israel is Mine, among the men and among the animals; on the day that I struck down all the first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for Myself. 18 But I have taken the Levites instead of every first-born among the sons of Israel." (Numbers 8:17-18).

The basis of Levite service looked back to the time of the first Passover when all first-born in the land of Egypt were under the sentence of death. Rather than take the first-born of the Israelites, the Lord chose the tribe of Levi to be He select priesthood.



The Israelites receive their marching orders from the Lord and they are led from Sinai to the Wilderness of Paran. This area lies to the northwest of the Gulf of Elath and is composed of a high plateau ranging from 3900 to 5290 feet above sea level.

Chapter 11.

  • Cry of the People
  • Giving of Quail
  • Judgment

Chapter 14.

  • Cry of People
  • Judgment of God
  • Defeat at Kadesh



Chapter 12.

Complaint by Aaron & Miriam against Moses


Chapter 13.

Mission of the spies & their complaint against Canaan

This section of the book of Numbers records the repeated failure of the Israelites to believe the provisions of the Lord. Some of these failures were public while others were private.

1. Crying & Quail (Numbers 11).

PROLOGUE: Complaint of the people & the Judgment of God (11:1-9).

EPILOGUE: Grace and Judgment from the Lord (11:31-35).



Complaint of Moses about unbelief of the people (11:10-15).

Complaint of Joshua about two prophets (11:26-30).



The Lord calls for Leaders (11:16-17).

The Spirit given to Leaders (11:24-25).



God promises both Grace and Judgment (11:18-23).

This chapter begins with a brief prologue which describes an initial judgment from God. It is a judgment of FIRE (berah). And so, the Israelites call the name of the place "Taberah."

However, the Israelites continued to complain. This time, the complaint took on a new form. It was a complaint over the same menu. For a year, the Lord had provided them with MANNA to eat. And now, they begin to suffer from the problem of selective memory.

"We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 7 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing to look at except this manna." (Numbers 11:6-7).

They remembered the food of Egypt but they forgot their past slavery. They remembered the free fish, but they forgot that they themselves had not been free.

Sin is like that. When we are tempted, it is because we have forgotten the consequences of our sins. Sin always carries baggage with it. Remember the baggage!

Moses takes these complaints and all that they imply both against his own leadership as well as the rebellion against God and he takes it before the Lord. The Lord responds both in grace and in judgment.

a. Grace.

The GRACE response is seen in the provision of the Holy Spirit for the leaders of the nation. No more will the Holy Spirit speak only through Moses. From now on there will be others who are also filled with the Spirit.

It is interesting that two of these leaders receive the Spirit in a manner which is not consistent with the others.

But two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them (now they were among those who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent), and they prophesied in the camp.

So a young man ran and told Moses and said, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."

The Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, answered and said, "Moses, my lord, restrain them."

But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:26-29).

We can learn an important lesson from this episode. It is that the Lord does not always bestow His gifts in the nice, neat ways which our theology requires.

Joshua was not aware of this. His theology said that the Spirit is only bestowed at the Tabernacle. And when he saw two men who received the Spirit outside the Tabernacle, he didn't like it.

But Moses was not troubled by this. He realized that God is bigger than the Tabernacle. God doesn't always fit into our theological boxes.

It is interesting that the desire of Moses was that all men prophecy. This desire was later stated in the form of a prophecy by the prophet Joel.

And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days." (Joel 2:28-29).

This prophecy was fulfilled at the Pentecost Incident in Acts 2. It was at that time that the Spirit was poured out in an indiscriminate manner.

The grace of God is further seen in the provision of a great flock of quail. It is grace heaped up and overflowing.

b. Judgment.

It is only after the people have seen the grace of God both in the giving of His Spirit and in the sending of the quail that judgment falls.

Why does it fall now? It falls because there has been no repentance. There is a lesson here. It is a lesson about the PATIENCE of God.

2. Complaint Against Moses (Numbers 12).

A complaint is now brought against Moses by those who are the closest to him - his brother and sister. The complaint regard his taking of a Cushite woman as his wife.

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); 2 and they said, "Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?" And the Lord heard it. (Numbers 12:1-2).

While there seems to be perhaps an undercurrent of jealousy and sibling rivalry (they may have had a difficult time accepting their "little brother's" leadership), the spark which set this event off was the marriage of Moses to a Gentile. In the midst of this family feud, the Lord intervenes and calls Aaron and Miriam to account.

Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tend, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, 6 He said, "Hear now My words:

If there is a prophet among you,

I, the Lord shall make Myself known to him in a vision.

I shall speak with him in a dream.

Not so, with My servant Moses,

His is faithful in all My household;

With him I speak mouth to mouth,

Even openly, and not in dark sayings,

And he beholds the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?" (Numbers 12:5-8).

The Septuagint translates the phrase ("mouth to mouth") as "face to face." The context shows this the be the idea behind the phrase.

There is a sense in which we have experienced this kind of communication in the person of Jesus Christ. He brought God face to face with men.

In 1 Corinthians 13:10, Paul quotes the Septuagint version of this passage. He is speaking amidst the contrast of the partial that we know today versus that perfect that we shall one day know.

For we know in part, and we prophecy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then FACE TO FACE; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

To what does "the perfect" refer? It is the face-to-face communication with God that Moses experienced. Those who met Jesus had such an experience.

But Paul does not speak of the "perfect" as having already come. He describes it as still future. What is the "perfect"? It is the state of perfect communication with God. It is that which we shall experience when we finally see Him face to face.

3. The Spies (Numbers 13).

Why were spies sent into Canaan? Up to this time, the Lord Himself had led the people. Why was there a need for spies? Deuteronomy 1:22-23 give us a clue.

"Then all of you approached me and said, `Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up, and the cities which we shall enter.'

"And the thing pleased me and I took twelve of your men, one man for each tribe." (Deuteronomy 1:22-23).

The impetus for the plan to send in spies came from the people. On the other hand, the Lord DID affirm the plan. And so, representatives from each of the twelve tribes of Israel were selected to spy out the land. Of the twelve who went out...

10 came back with a majority report.

2 came back with a minority report.

Perhaps there is a lesson here. It is that the majority is not always right.

"There also we saw the Nephalim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephalim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Numbers 13:33).

The interesting thing about this fear is that there was a corresponding fear of the Israelites on the part of the Canaanites. When Israel finally DOES enter the Promised Land, it is to find that the Canaanites had heard of the power of the Lord and were frightened by it (Joshua 2:9-11).

Why did the spies fall prey to the "grasshopper complex?" Dr. Erwin Lutzer lists several reasons:

4. Rebellion and Judgment (Numbers 14).

The reaction to the people to the report of the spies was one of unbelief and rebellion against the Lord.

When Joshua and Caleb attempt to warn the people, they find themselves facing execution by stoning. Into this situation, the Lord appears in the Tabernacle and passes judgment upon the rebellious nation.

"Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey - I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected.

"But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they shall suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness.

"According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you shall know My opposition." (Numbers 14:31-34).

The judgment was to be one of death. The entire generation would die in the wilderness.

Instead of submitting to the judgment of God, the people further rebelled against God by trying to invade the land on their own. They were defeated and driven back.


1. Laws for a Future Land (15).

Even though the present generation was to die in the wilderness, there were instructions to be given for future generations (it helps us to remember that the audience to whom Moses is writing IS that next generation)..

These laws deal with...

Various offerings.

Penalties for disobedience.

What follows is a situation in which a man was found in flagrant violation of the stated Law of God. He was gathering wood on the Sabbath. The penalty was death. Why? Because he had "despised the word of the Lord and broken His commandment" (Numbers 15:31).

2. The Korah Rebellion (16).

The rebellion against the authority of Moses came from members of his own tribe - the Tribe of Levi. It revolved around a man named Korah.

And they assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord." (Numbers 16:3).

Now, let me ask you a question. Was this a true claim? Wasn't it true that all of Israel was holy and that the Lord was in the midst of all? Yes, it was. But it was also true that the Lord had appointed leaders over the people.

It was God who had appointed Moses. Therefore this was not merely a rebellion against Moses - it was also a rebellion against God. This sin of Korah was that of wanting to reject God's ordained leaders.

There is a lesson for us to learn. It is a lesson of leadership. The fact that the church is a royal priesthood does not mean that there is not God-ordained leadership within the church.

Korah denied that leadership. His claim was that Moses had no right to be leader since all of the Israelites were God's chosen people.

Moses called for the people to separate themselves from Korah, warning that the judgment of God was about to fall in a way that it had not previously done.

Then it came about as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground that was under them split open; 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah, with their possessions.

So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. (Numbers 16:31-33).

Fire also came forth from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense. (Numbers 16:35).

Jude 11 speaks of those within the Christian church who have "perished in the rebellion of Korah." The implication is that it is possible today to sin in the same way that Korah sinned.

What type of sin is this? It is the sin of rebellion from God-ordained authority. It is a sin which can be committed both within and without the church.

3. The Staff of Aaron (17).

Korah's rebellion had brought the leadership of Moses and Aaron into question. Now the Lord sets out to document the priesthood of Aaron through a special sign.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and get from them a rod for each father's household: twelve rods, from all their leaders according to their fathers' households. You shall write each name on his rod, 3 and write Aaron's name on the rod of Levi; for there is one rod for the head of each of their fathers' households." (Numbers 17:1-3).

These rods were taken and placed within the Tabernacle. On the next day, one of the rods had sprouted with leaves and had borne fruit - ripe almonds. It was the rod of Aaron. It was to be kept in the Tabernacle from this date hence and it would serve as the sign and the seal of Aaron's priesthood.

4. Levitical Duties (18-19).

The next two chapters deal with the duties and responsibilities of Aaron and his priestly descendants.

Korah's Levitical Rebellion (16).

Instructions to Priests (18-19).



The matter of priestly leadership settled (17).

5. The Failure at Meribah (Numbers 20:1-13).

The most common testing which the Israelites faced in the Wilderness as the lack of food and water - especially water.

And there was no water for the congregation; and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. (Numbers 20:2).

The people had faced this test before. When they had first come into the Wilderness, they had been without water and the Lord had Moses strike a rock and a river of water had gushed forth (Exodus 17:1-7).

Now they are facing the same test. And once again, they begin to complain and to murmur against the Lord.

Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to them;

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 "Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink." (Numbers 20:6-8).

The instructions of the Lord are very explicit. Moses is to go and SPEAK to the rock.

Why the change? On the previous occasion, Moses was to strike the rock with the rod. Why is he merely to speak to it now? Evidently, this is a test of Moses' obedience.

But I think that there may be another reason as well. The rock is a type of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). It is from Him that we receive rivers of living water. And we receive those waters because He was struck on our behalf. But He was only struck once. His sacrifice was once and for all. He does not have to be sacrificed repeatedly. To approach Him now, we need only speak to Him in prayer.

Moses failed the test. He failed to obey the command of the Lord.

Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." (Numbers 20:11-12).

Because of this failure, neither Moses or Aaron would be permitted to actually enter the Promised Land.

6. Detour at Edom (Numbers 20:14-21).

As the Israelites approach the boarders of the land of Edom, Moses sends messengers asking for permission to cross through this territory. This permission is refused. Because of this, the Israelites would be forced to make a 175 mile detour around the southern boarder of Edom's territory (Numbers 21:4).

7. Death of Aaron (Numbers 20:22-29).

As they come to Mount Hor, Aaron dies and the vestments of the high priest are bestowed upon his son, Eleazer.

8. Conquest of Arad (Numbers 21:1-3).

Although the Israelites had stopped short of going to war with Edom, they had no such hesitation when it came to fighting with the Canaanite neighbor of Arad. The cities of Arad were taken and destroyed.

9. The Incident of the Fiery Serpents (Numbers 21:4-9).

Once again, the Israelites faced the tests of a lack of food and water. Once again, they failed the test by speaking against Moses and against the Lord. This time, judgment came in the form of "fiery serpents."

And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:6).

There were dead and dying throughout the camp of Israel. People with poison in their veins now came to Moses for healing. That healing was brought in the form of the image of a serpent.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live."

And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived. (Numbers 21:8-9).

The way of healing was in the bronze image of a serpent lifted up on a standard. By simply looking at this image, a person could be healed.

Jesus likened that instance to the salvation which HE brings when a person simply looks to Him in faith.

10. Further Travels (Numbers 21:10-20).

These travels brought the Israelites to a point northeast of the Dead Sea.

11. Conquest of Sihon, King of the Amorites (Numbers 21:21-32).

Coming north along the route known as the King's Highway, Moses sends a message to the Amorite King Sihon requesting the right of passage through his territory.

This permission was refused and met with an attack. Israel emerged victorious and thus took possession of the lands of the Amorites from the Arnon River in the south to the Jabbok River in the north.

It should be noted that Israel avoided any military conflicts with the cities of Edom, Moab and Ammon during this period.

12. Conquest of Og, King of Bashan (Numbers 21:33-35).

The land of Bashan lay to the north of the Jabbok River and to the east of the Sea of Galilee. These lands also fell to the Israelites, giving them all of the lands of the Transjordan.



The conquest of the Amorites and Bashan gave the territories immediately to the east of the Jordan River into the hands of Israel, but there were still the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Edomites with which to be reckoned.

1. Balaam and Balak (Numbers 22-24).

The demise of the Amorites must have filled the people of nearby Moab with alarm. Balak, king of Moab, knows that he cannot defeat Israel in battle. And so, he seeks the help of the supernatural.

So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the River, in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, "Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me.

"Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed." (Numbers 22:5-6).

Balak engages the services of Balaam, a prophet-for-profit (2 Peter 2:15-16). The Lord comes to Balaam and warns him that He has blessed Israel and that he will not be permitted to curse them.

Balaam travels to the land of Moab and meets with Balak, encountering an angel from the Lord and making an ass of himself on the way.

After a lengthy ceremony involving seven altars and the sacrificing of seven bulls and seven rams, Balaam pronounces a blessing upon the people of Israel.

Balak is mortified. He asks that Balaam reconsider and that perhaps at least he can pronounce a NEUTRAL prophecy that at least will not be so much in favor of Israel (23:25).

When Balaam refuses, Balak suggests that they go to another place and engage in the same sacrificial ceremony, thinking that the PLACE would make a difference in the prophecy (23:27).

Each time, the Lord indicates that Israel is His chosen and blessed people.

2. Apostasy in the Camp (Numbers 25).

While living in the land of Moab, the Israelites begin to worship false gods and enter into the immoral practices of their neighbors. The tide is turned with a liberal use of capital punishment.

3. The Second Census (Numbers 26 - 27:11).

A second census is taken of all of the Israelite men of 20 years old and upward. This sets forth the fact of the new generation. As the old generation of God's people failed to enter the land, now the new generation will be challenged to succeed.

The fact that only men of fighting age are numbered demonstrates that we are to think of this numbering as one of a holy army. It is a call to arms.

They are the army of God. And they are to pick up the banner which fell with the first army in the wilderness.

4. Joshua as Successor. (Numbers 27:12-23).

Joshua, the servant of Moses, is chosen to replace him as the leader of Israel. He goes through an ordination ceremony.

5. Ordinances (Numbers 28-30).

Ceremonial observances of various feasts (28-29).


Laws regarding the making of vows (30).

6. Judgment against Midian (Numbers 31).

God orders the Israelites to destroy the Midianites for their part in the previous apostasy of Israel.

Balaam is one of those who is put to death. The reason for this is because it had been Balaam's plan to lead the Israelites astray through compromising their purity (31:16).

7. Settlement of Reuben, Gad, and Mannaseh (Numbers 32).

As the Israelites arrived in the land of Moab, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Mannaseh looked at this land and they said to themselves, "This sure is a lot better than the wilderness."

And so, they sent representatives to Moses and they asked for this land as their inheritance. In doing so, they were settling for second-best. It was to cost them early.

If there is a lesson here, it is this. Don't settle for second-best.

8. Review and Remembrance (Numbers 33).

The entire Wilderness Journey is reviews during this chapter.

Concluding Tasks




Disposal of the Midianites (31).

Disposition of the request of from three Tribes (32).

Rehersal of the Journey (33:1-49).

Anticipation of the Conquest (33:50 -36:13).

  1. Preparation for Entering the Land (Numbers 34-36).

Commands are given in preparation of going into the Promised Land.


Have you ever had a wilderness experience? It was a time when everything seemed to dry up - a time when God took you and put you on the shelf. It happened to me with drastic suddenness on my 30th birthday. I had been serving within a small church when suddenly, through no fault of my own, the situation changed and I found myself removed from the teaching ministry. For the next two and a half years, my wife and I were without a church home. During that time, I did very little teaching.

Now, I want you to know that there is nothing harder for a Bible teacher to do than to keep quiet. But God wanted to teach me something during that period. I couldn't hear Him at first, but He was shouting to me in that silence.

God speaks to us in the wilderness. I have learned a lot about God in Bible College and in seminary. I have learned a lot about Him in the church and in Bible Studies. But I learned the most about Him in the wilderness. Are you in the wilderness right now? There are some lessons that you can learn in the wilderness.

1. The Lesson of the Faithfulness of the Lord.

Throughout the book of Numbers, we are constantly impressed with the unfaithfulness of Israel in contrast to the faithfulness of the Lord. God is faithful, even when we are faithless.

2. The Lesson of the Cost of Disobedience.

The book of Numbers begins on a very positive note. The people are headed for the Promised Land. They have on their side the God who defeated Egypt, the greatest military power on earth.

But there is also great failure within this book. Paul gives us a short commentary on this book within his epistle to the Corinthians.

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses int he cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. (1 Corinthians 10:1-5).

Notice the repeated use of the word "ALL." ALL were under the cloud. ALL passed through the sea. ALL ate the same spiritual food. ALL drank the same spiritual drink.

They all started the journey. But they didn't all finish. Most of them died in the wilderness. Why? Because of DISOBEDIENCE.

Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved. And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play." Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. (1 Corinthians 10:6-10).

The fact that Israel fell is a warning to us. It is possible for us to fall in each one of these areas. It is possible for us to be tempted in these areas and to fall into sin.

You see, this illustration of Israel in the wilderness is not just a sad story. It is not just for out intellectual enjoyment. It is to teach us something. It is to teach us how we ought to live. It is not just for Sunday morning. We need to take it to work with us on Monday and keep it through the week.

Why is this so important? Because temptation is going to come on Monday and on Tuesday and throughout the rest of the week. It is important that we understand its consequences. It will only be then that we will be able to use God's provision against its lure.

Israel is a type of the Christian. The Exodus from Egypt is a picture of the salvation of the Christian.

Just as all of Israel were under the cloud, so we have all come under God's protection. Just as all of Israel passed through the sea, so we have all passed from the bondage of sin to freedom in Christ. Just as all of Israel was baptized into Moses, so we have all been baptized into Christ. Just as all of Israel ate the same spiritual food, so we have all been made partakers of the body of Christ. Just as Moses struck the rock and all of Israel drank from it, so also Christ died for us and we have all partaken of His death.

The goal of the Christian life is to win the race - to enter into the Promised Land. But some are disqualified. Some do not enter in. The reason for this is SIN.

A lot of books and leaflets have been written on what is wrong with the church today. We are told that if only we will have more programs, greater giving, more powerful preaching, motivated missions, better body life, or updated Sunday school programs, that all of the problems of the church will be solved. But one thing is usually neglected - the presence of sin.

Now these things happened to them as an example, and there were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Corinthians 10:11).

This tells me something about the Old Testament. It was written for my benefit. It was written for my instruction. It contains lessons that I need to learn.

There is a teaching that is going around today that says that the Old Testament is not for the Christian today - that it was written to a previous dispensation who lived before Christ and that it has nothing of practical value for the Christian in the 21st century. Not true! ALL of the Scriptures are inspired by God. All of the Scriptures are profitable to me in the areas of doctrine and of reproof and of instruction in how to be righteous.

Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you, but such as it common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

Though we are warned against being over-confident, this does not mean that we should have an attitude of defeatism. We have s strong word of encouragement. It is that God has made provision for us in our hour of temptation.

God will never take you into a tunnel that does not have a light at the end of it. And He will never take you through the wilderness without being with you.


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