This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I plan to focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!
Numbers in One Sentence:
“God brings us through the wilderness to prepare us for what’s next.” – From NewSpring Church’s “Everything You Need to Know about Numbers” article
The Big Picture:
The title for this book comes from the two censuses taken in the book, numbering God’s people at that time. In Hebrew the actual title would be translated “In the Wliderness”. This is more descriptive of the narrative as God’s people leave Mount Sinai and make their way to the edge of the land God promised to them. Because of their disobedience the current generation would not get to enter and God had them wander around in the wilderness for forty years. At the end of the book we see a new generation preparing to enter the Land and are being reminded of the laws and guidelines God set out for them so they would find blessing and success when they entered.
Some Key Themes in Numbers:
- God forgives our sins. There are also consequences in this world for our mistakes. (Numbers 14:20-23; 20:12, 21:4-9)
- Grumbling never makes anything better. (Numbers 11)
- “Every number has a name, every name has a story, every story matters to God.” (From “Everything You Need to know about Numbers“; Numbers 1, 26)
- God is faithful even when we are not.
- God really does go to any lengths to communicate with us… sometimes animals even talk. (Numbers 22)
A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:
Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of Leviticus you want! These are just some ideas.
- “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
REFLECTION: This blessing has been prayed over God’s people for thousands of years and still is used in many churches today. What does this blessing mean to you? Who might you be able to pray this over today?
REFLECTION: God, what human characteristics might I be placing on you unfairly? What do you want me to know about you as GOD today?
- “But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone and his descendants will inherit it.” Numbers 14:24)
REFLECTION: Caleb and Joshua went against probably over a million people who didn’t trust God was able to help them take over the land. Where in your life right now are you feeling like you’re being called to be different for the glory of God, perhaps even in the face of great opposition?
- “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love…” Numbers 14:18
REFLECTION: Where have you seen this to be true in your relationship with God? In what areas of life might God be calling you to reflect His nature by also being slow to anger or abounding in love?
God’s Grace in Numbers:
The clearest picture of God’s grace in this book is found in the verse just mentioned above. The way the story goes, God has asked Moses to send some people into Canaan to scout it out. The ideas was to find out what land is good or to figure out what they were up against. It was not about deciding whether to go in or not, but rather preparation. However 10 of the spies found themselves afraid at what they found and convinced the entire nation not to follow God’s command to be courageous and enter the land. Only two spies, Caleb and Joshua, got excited about what they saw. They tried to rally the masses saying, “Let’s go up now and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” (13:30)
But the people refused and even threatened to stone Moses, Aaron, Caleb, and Joshua. This made God mad. He had this huge gift waiting for them and all they wanted was to go back to slavery in Egypt?!? God was ready to destroy them with a plague but Moses petitioning to the gracious character of God saying, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and rebellion. … Please pardon the iniquity of the people, in keeping with the greatness of your faithful love, just as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now.” (Numbers 14:18-19)
God did pardon them. There were consequences, but also great grace.
Some Other Resources:
- The Bible Project Summary Video of Numbers
- A Pinterest board with some artistic Bible journaling ideas and other resources about Numbers
- The 66 in 52 Schedule and Tracking Sheet
So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!