Before we dive into what the book of Numbers is all about, let’s do a church word. The word is Pentateuch. Simply said, it means the first five books of the Bible. Don’t confuse this with the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Moving on.
Okay, let’s review. It’s been about a year since the exodus from Egypt. In that time, the Israelites constructed the mobile tabernacle. They learned a lot of God’s laws, saw many miracles, and were fed by His manna. And they complained a lot.
Numbers starts with a census of all the people and the organization of their camp, including the order in which they move out and the way they settle. The tabernacle was placed right in the middle, encircled by the Levites for protection and maintenance. The twelve tribes were organized around them.
Here’s the headline though. The trip from Mount Sinai – where the Israelites are right now – to the Promised Land, should take them about 11 days. So, why do they wander for 40 years? Well, I won’t reveal everything, but let’s just say they pushed God to the point of Him swearing that no one in that current generation – except two – would enter the land flowing with milk and honey. Sadly, one of those two wasn’t Moses.
So, because they rebelled, the Israelites wandered in the desert for the time it would take for that generation to die off. The book of Numbers recounts their experiences and teaches us how God delights in our obedience, will not tolerate rebellion without consequences, and how to be humble and be open to God’s guidance.