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Author and Dates
The book of Numbers was written by Moses to the second generation of Israelites on the plains of Moab as they were preparing to enter the Promised Land (around 1410 B.C. or 1255 B.C., depending on the exact date of the exodus from Egypt).
To inspire the present generation of God’s people to avoid the failures of the past and trust him for their victory and needs. To call the second generation of Israel to arms as the holy army of God.
- The Magnificent Collection of the First Generation: The people of God prepare to enter the promised land (1–10)
- The Tragic Failure of the First Generation (10–25)
- From Sinai to Kadesh (10–12)
- Forty years near Kadesh (13–19)
- Rebellion of the spies (13–14)
- From Kadesh to the plains of Moab (20–22)
- The Magnificent Collection of the Second Generation
- Israel on the plains of Moab (22–36)
- Balaam and Balak (22–24)
Moses, Miriam, Aaron, God, Korah, Balaak, Balaam, and Joshua
The book of Numbers picks up where the book of Exodus left off, with their departure from Sinai to their arrival at the edge of the Promised Land—the plains of Moab. The first ten chapters portray the collection of the fighting men of Israel. This group, exceeding numbers of 600,000, speaks strongly of the faithfulness of God as he protected and built a people once facing slavery and extinction. However, the story takes a dismal turn as this first generation of Israelites, who experienced such blessing from God, failed miserably in their rebellion.
Nevertheless, the tragedy turns into hope as the second generation is assembled and prepares to conquer the Promised Land. The book of Numbers provides an insightful description of how humans tend to fail spiritually. Conversely, it is a tremendous book of hope and calls every generation of God’s people to embrace a new beginning and trust God.
The significant part of Israel’s story that is recorded in Numbers was retold throughout the rest of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 1–4; Nehemiah 9; Psalm 78, 105, 106, 135). This stresses the importance of God’s faithfulness to his people despite their repeated failures.
- God’s covenant loyalty toward Israel.
- Israel’s repeated failure to keep covenant with God.
- The continuation and preservation of God’s people.
- The spiritual failures often experienced by God’s people.
- Despite failures, hope and a new beginning is possible.
- God turns all things into good for his people, including the curses of their enemies.