The Commands for the First Census (Numbers 1-4)

Numbers 1 – The numbers of men from each tribe mustered for war
Numbers 2 – The placement of the tribes around the tabernacle and their order for march
Numbers 3 – The placement of the Levites around the tabernacle, and the numbers of Levites and the firstborn of Israel
Numbers 4 – The numbers of the Levites in their tabernacle service to the Lord

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One Reply to “The Commands for the First Census (Numbers 1-4)”

  1. The Hebrew title of Numbers is bemidbar, meaning “in the Desert” [NIV Study Bible Notes]. Numbers provides for 38 years of history for which the Israelites wandered in the desert because of their unwillingness to enter the promised land (bad intelligence report). I found the theological teaching section of the intro very interesting, especially this concept:

    “God’s purpose in history is implicitly disclosed: to invade the arena of fallen humanity and effect the redemption of his creation–the mission in which his people are also to be totally engaged” [NIV Study Bible Introduction to Numbers]

    Indeed it is our mission to invade the lives of the lost in order to provide for their rescue. Of course it is the Holy Spirit that does the work completely, but we have a part to play in the drama of life. Each day we awake is another opportunity to move closer to God. We mustn’t shy away from the land that appears to be governed by conquerors, God is on our side if we are truly with him.

    For 430 years the 70 that entered Egypt lived and apparently multiplied! The math is reasonable, even if the population of 603,550 is astounding (Numbers 1:46), especially given the practical need to have large numbers of children in that agro-economy.

    Encampment of the Tribes of Israel

    Numbers 3:4 provides a side note to underscore the importance of Aaron’s work in the tabernacle, “Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the Lord when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai.”  This extremely sad event is recorded in Leviticus 10:1-3. There is great pain in the words that follow the emphatic (and brief) words from God, “Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” (Leviticus 10:3a)

    Aaron remained silent. (Leviticus 10:3b)

    I remember first reading this phrase as a dad, an earthly father, and feeling stunned. That sense remains each time I read the words.

    So the words, “…anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death” (Numbers 3:10) are not to be taken lightly. God will be honored properly.

    Following this passage, God commands Moses to count the Levites, but not for purposes of military accountability, rather for purposes to serve the people as priests.

    I’m reminded that God is a marvelous God of details, he is aware of all the numbers, of everyone. Lord invade our land today, invade our hearts and minds and count us among your people.

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