Today’s Reading: Numbers 26-29
Today’s Reflection: Numbers 26:51
This was the list of the people of Israel, 601,730.
History: God had promised Abraham that his offspring would become a great nation through which the whole world would be blessed (Genesis 22:17-18). Israel was that nation. God had also promised Abraham that his descendants would occupy the Promised Land of Canaan (Genesis 15:7-16). After liberating the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, God was ready to bring this promise to fruition. Unfortunately Israel wasn’t. When called to possess the land, Israel’s fear of Canaan’s inhabitants turned out to be greater than their faith in God and they refused to move forward (Numbers 14:1-4). As a result God forced them to wander in the wilderness until the older Israelites who lacked faith died out and the youths and children were old enough to do what their parents had refused to do (Numbers 14:26-35).
The point about Numbers: When God first instructed Moses to conduct a census of the fighting men of Israel, the count was 603,550 (Numbers 1:46). After 40 years of journeying, and after all of the previous generation of Israel dying out (except for Joshua and Caleb), God instructs Moses and Aaron (neither of whom would enter the Promised Land themselves) to conduct a second census. The count is now 601,730, essentially the same number. The point? God brings Israel back to the same decision: to draw back in fear of the inhabitants of Canaan, or to trust God to defeat the enemies of the Promised Land? Even though their circumstances were identical to that of the previous generation, this time Israel would trust God and move forward.
Lesson: Israel’s wilderness experience is an analogy to your own personal experience. Each of us reaches points of having to choose between fully trusting God, or allowing fear and doubt to keep us out of God’s will for our lives. When you choose fear over faith God may put you through a wilderness experience to transform your character, strengthen your faith, and teach you how to trust Him more. Just as the older rebellious generation of Israel died out and was replaced by a new more faithful generation, the old you which was controlled by fear dies and is replaced by a new you that walks in faith. When you’re faced with the same challenge again you’re still you but you’re not the same you. Though you haven’t increased in ‘numbers’, your new character allows you to choose faith over fear.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.