Devotional Reading – Numbers 1-2
The author of Numbers is Moses and the opening verse gives us an exact chronological timeline for events found in its pages: “first day of the second month, in the second year after they [the Twelve Tribes of Israel] were come out of the land of Egypt” (Numbers 1:1).
The Book of Numbers follows the journey of the Twelve Tribes of Israel from Egypt, through the wilderness, to the threshold of Canaan, the land God promised Abraham for an inheritance. The book derives its name from the fact it records three separate census counts conducted during Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness.
Admittedly, one can get lost in the details enumerated in Numbers 1-2; however, there is an important truth concealed in the verses:
God remembers and keeps His promises!
God commanded Moses and Aaron to take a census of the men of Israel, twenty years and older; men who were identified by their tribe, father’s name and own name, and described as “able to go forth to war” (1:1-4).
These are the Twelve Tribes of Israel. They are the progenies of the twelve sons of Jacob, the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham. The LORD changed Jacob’s name to Israel, from whom the nation received its name.
The thousands numbered in these verses are a testimony God remembered His covenant with Abraham whom He called out of ancient Ur (modern day Iraq). Commanding Abraham to leave his country and kindred to journey to a land the LORD promised would be an inheritance for his lineage (Genesis 12:1-3). The LORD promised Abraham would not only be father to a great people, but also “all families of the earth be blessed” through him (a promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ as our Savior Redeemer – Genesis 12:3b).
Thirteen tribes (Numbers 1:5-15) are named; however, two of the thirteen tribes descended from Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh – Numbers 1:10, 32-35). The priestly tribe of Levi was excluded from the census because of their dedication and service to the LORD (1:47-54).
We will see that the LORD set the tribe of Levi apart for Himself in lieu of the first born from every tribe and family being set apart for the priesthood (Numbers 3:12-13). The Levites were charged with the responsibility of the tabernacle and the vessels used for worship and offering sacrifices (Numbers 1:50; 3:8). When the nation was on the move, the Levites were responsible for taking down and erecting the tabernacle (Numbers 1:51, 53).
Numbers 2 gives the organization of the encampment by tribe: Simeon (2:12-13), Gad (2:14-15), Ephraim (2:18-19), Manasseh (2:20-21), Judah (2:3-4), Issachar (2:5-6), Zebulun (2:7-8), Reuben (2:10-11) Benjamin (2:22-23), Dan (2:25-26), Asher (2:27-28), Naphtali (2:29-30), and Levi in the midst encamped around the tabernacle (2:17, 33).
I close today’s devotional reflecting with two observations:
1) The tabernacle was located in the center of the encampment and served as a constant reminder of the LORD’S presence (1:53).
2) “The children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses.” (2:34)
Is worshipping and serving the LORD central to your life?
Do you obey the LORD in both attitude and actions?
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith