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February 2, 2023 - Numbers 1-5

40 years of wilderness wandering crunched down into 36 chapters. That’s the book of Numbers. So much left out, and it will be interesting to fill in some of the blanks when we get a chance to have conversations with Moses and others in eternity. In the meantime, God has given us what we need to know. And the first thing we realize is that Israel must prepare for war and that she has many enemies. So, the census of men “from twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war” (1:3). Also, the need for organization that will enable the people to move efficiently through the desert. So, the ordering of the tribes and their placements around the tabernacle (ch. 2).

And then, there’s the matter of worship. And so, the establishment of the Levites and the priests and their respective duties and responsibilities (chs. 3,4). And then, there’s the matter of the people themselves. So many enemies outside! But, perhaps, the people themselves are their greatest enemy. And so, the Lord instructs Moses: “Speak to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the Lord, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution . . .” (5:6,7).

Many are the biblical injunctions to be on guard and to watch ourselves, among them: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14) & “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

My soul, be on thy guard;

ten thousand foes arise;

the hosts of sin are pressing hard

to draw thee from the skies.

O watch, and fight, and pray;

the battle ne’er give o’er;

renew it boldly every day,

and help divine implore.

Ne’er think the vict’ry won,

nor once at ease sit down;

the arduous work will not be done

till thou hast got the crown. -- George Heath (1781)

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