In these four chapters we find a census is being taken of the tribes of Israel. The tribes are the descendants of the sons of Jacob (Leah and Rachel). You might note that in all the tribes, only the males over age 20 were counted; they were counted as warriors. Among the Levites of the tribe of Benjamin all males age 1 month and older were counted.* The introduction to the book of Numbers takes note that the book starts with the generation that left Egypt, came to Mt. Sinai and travelled through the desert lands. The book ends with the generation that entered the Promised Land. That first generation had been warned that they would never see the promised land because of their rebellion and disobedience.
It would be hard to interpret these four chapters as other than what they appear to be – a census, a counting. But, why do a census?
When you (or I) want to start a new project in our family or at our workplace. one of the first things we usually do is determine what we need in order to complete that project. Then we will number our resources: what do we already have that will help us to do that project, and what more will we need? Jesus gives us numerous ideas on what we can do to fulfill his instructions as disciples, or Christ-followers. For example: “let your light shine before others so that people will see and give glorify to our Father God.” I suggest to you that the options of what to do to fulfill our calling as Christians are numerous: to worship, to work at our job with a whole heart, to love our neighbours, to give with cheerfulness, and to think on things that are pure and right and good.
What will you do (or say or be) to bring about God’s kingdom? What are your gifts? How will you learn to use those gifts and skills to bring glory to our Father who is in heaven?
Our times are in your hands, oh God. Show us what you are doing in our world and how we can be part of that glorious work. Amen.
Whatever is true – Brian Doerksen
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