Numbers 13: The Book of Wanderings

This entry is part 87 of 160 in the series 365 Key Chapters of the Bible

Overview of the Book of Numbers

Numbers is a book of wanderings. It gets its name from two censuses, the first taken at Mount Sinai and the second on the Plain of Moab. Its main content, however, focuses on the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness. Because of the first generation’s disobedience, the Lord causes them to wander in the wilderness until they have passed away. As a result, the second generation prepares to enter the Promised Land.

Whereas Leviticus focused on the ceremonial code and the call to holiness, Numbers looks at how believers ought to walk in faith. But the Israelites frequently fail. They do not want to depend on God. Instead, they want to walk in their own ways to their own shame.

Because of the Israelites’ disobedience, God’s kindness and severity stand out clearly. He disciplines His wayward people, but He does not abandon them. They face consequences, but He is merciful to them. Instead of abandoning them to their fate, He chooses to guide them in His sovereignty.

Application of the Book of Numbers

Looking at the book of Numbers, we can take away several lessons:

  1. Keeping in mind that God is sovereign over our circumstances, we ought to avoid grumbling against Him.
  2. We can trust in our faithful God.
  3. God has worked in the past, is working in the present, and gives us promises for the future.
  4. Because of who God is, we should obey Him.

Numbers 13

Numbers 13 marks a pivotal change between generations and demonstrates these applications. The first generation of Israelites has complained about Moses and about God over and over again in the wilderness. They now reach the point of no return.

The spies obey Moses in searching out the land, and it proves to be exactly the bounty that God promised. But when they return, they are filled with fear because of the people in the land. Instead of trusting in God and obeying His commands, they ignore His sovereignty and faithfulness. Caleb tries to encourage and exhort them, but they choose to rebel against God. At the heart of their disobedience is a temporal perspective instead of an eternal one. Only when we look to God can we have stability in this temporal arena.

Watch part 87 of the 365 Key Chapters of the Bible series, based on Ken’s Handbook to Scripture.

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