Date: 1450-1410 B.C.
Name of the Book
Numbers gets its name from the two accounts in chapters 1 and 26 of the numbering or counting of the people of Israel first at Mount Sinai and second on the plains of Moab.
Theme and Purpose
Though Numbers gets its name from the numbering of the people, it is primarily concerned with nearly 40 years of wandering in the desert. A journey which should have only lasted eleven days became a 38-year agony of defeat simply because of the disbelief and disobedience of the people. Numbers, then, shows the consequence of failing to mix faith with the promises of God (see Heb. 3:16-4:2). Further, Numbers teaches us that while life does have its wilderness experiences, God’s people do not have to stay in those conditions. Joshua will illustrate this later. Another important theme shown throughout the book of Numbers is found in God’s continual care for his people. Over and over again, regardless of their rebellion and unbelief, He miraculously supplied their needs. He provided them with water, manna, and quail. He continued to love and forgive the people even when they complained, grumbled, and rebelled against Him.
14:22-23 Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in
Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not lis-
tened to My voice, 23 shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor
shall any of those who spurned Me see it.
20:12. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to
treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this as-
sembly into the land which I have given them.”
Chapters 13-14 stand as the key chapters because these chapters record a critical turning point for the nation. Here, at Kadesh-Barnea (32:8), after receiving the evil report from 10 of the 12 spies whom Moses sent to spy out the land, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb Israel focused on the giants in the land, failed to believe God, and refused to enter to possess and conquer the land, a Land that flowed with milk and honey.
Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, Caleb, Balak
Christ as Seen in Numbers
(1) Perhaps no place is there a clearer portrait of Christ and His crucifixion than in the serpent lifted up on the standard (cf. Num. 21:4-9 with John 3:14).
(2) The rock that quenched the thirst of the people is a type of Christ (1 Cor. 10:4).
(3) The daily manna pictures Christ as the bread come down from heaven (John 6:31-33).
(4) The pillar of cloud and fire portray the guidance of Christ and the cities of refuge certainly portray Christ as our refuge from judgment.
(5) Finally, the red heifer is also a type of Christ (ch. 19).
Numbers divides into three sections: Preparation at Sinai, Failure of the Old Generation, Preparation of the New Generation.
I. Preparation at Sinai (Old Generation) (1-10)
A. The Position and Numbering of the People (1-4)
B. The Precepts of God and Sanctification of the People (5:1-9:14)
C. The Pilgrimage Toward the Promised Land (9:15-10:36)
II. Failure of the Old Generation (11-25)
A. Discontent Along the Way (11-12)
B. Disbelief at Kadesh-Barnea (13-14)
C. Discipline from the Lord (15-25)
III. Preparation of the New Generation (26-36)
A. Reorganization of Israel (26-27)
B. Regulation of Offerings and Vows (28-30)
C. Regionalization of the Land (31-36)