Skip to content Skip to navigation

Numbers

Numbers: Theme

God has a plan for his people. The LORD’s people must live each day by faith in him and his word if they are to please him andenjoy his plan of blessings in time. Unbelief and disobedience bring painful consequences, but the LORD, in grace, always keeps his Word to his people.

Numbers Key Verses: Numbers 14:22-23

  • 22 “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 listened 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.”

Numbers: Background to events.

  • The Hebrew people left Egypt one year ago. They are still at Sinai.
  • God has already given Moses the Law for the people.
  • The tabernacle has been completed.
  • It is now time to move into Canaan.

Numbers: When did all this happen?

  • The first census was on second day of the second month of the second year dated from the time they left Egypt—April 1445 BC (Numbers 1.1-4).
  • The Israelites left Sinai 20 days later (Numbers 10.11).
  • Thirty-nine years later, God told Moses to take another census of the new generation while they were in the Plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. This generation would enter Canaan (Numbers 26.1-4).
  • They remained in the Plains of Moab about 5 months.
  • The events in Numbers cover 39 years.

Numbers: Key Words Used

  • Moses, 236
  • Congregation, 73 times
  • Lord spoke, 49 times
  • Wilderness, 48
  • Set out, 37 times
  • Law, 15
  • Grumble, 2 times, Complain, 1 time

Numbers: Main People

  • Moses
  • Aaron
  • Caleb
  • Joshua
  • Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
  • Balak
  • Balaam

Numbers: Narrative Preview

The Lord generously organized, prepared, and provided everything for his people and their short trip to the promised Canaan land. Yet Israel disbelieved, disobeyed, and complained against the Lord. As a result the Lord disciplined the people, yet kept his covenant of blessing to them, and the next generation entered the land under Joshua.

Numbers: Narrative

  • Numbers begins with Moses counting the people in preparation for the march to Canaan. The first census was on second day of the second month of the second year dated from the time they left Egypt—April 1445 BC It is only 13 months after leaving Egypt (Numbers 1.1-4).
  • Twenty days later the Israelites begin the trip to Canaan (10.11). Along the way they repeatedly disbelieve and disobey God: complain about no meat; Aaron and Miriam jealous; unbelief of the spies; military defeats; Korah rebellion; Moses hits the rock; complain against Moses followed by the fiery serpents; Balak and Balaam and idolatry;  As a result, God disciplines them in order to prepare them to enter Canaan.
  • After 39 years of wandering, God tells Moses to take a new census (26.2). They are in the Plains of Moab, near the Jordan River across from Jericho, where they would stay for about five months. The old generation had died; the new generation was ready to take their land.
  • Moses inaugurated Joshua as the new leader (27.18). Moses then gave instructions for dividing the land and for living in Canaan.
  • The events in Numbers cover 39 years. 

Numbers Outline

  • Preparation at Sinai for the journey (1-9)
  • Failures, Wanderings, and Kadesh-Barnea (10-20)
  • Plains of Moab, Balaam, and Idolatry (21-25)
  • Plains of Moab, instructions before crossing the Jordan, and Joshua (26-36)

Numbers Chapter Titles: Preparation at Sinai, 1-9

  • Chapter 1:    Census at Sinai.
  • Chapter 2:    Camp arrangement.
  • Chapter 3:    Levites’ Camp and Duties.
  • Chapter 4:    Levites’ Census and Duties.
  • Chapter 5:    Unclean, Sin, Law of Jealousy.
  • Chapter 6:     Nazirite vow.
  • Chapter 7:    Offerings at tabernacle dedication.
  • Chapter 8:    Levites in place of firstborn.
  • Chapter 9:    Passover. Cloud and Fire.

Numbers Chapter Titles: Failures, Wanderings, and Kadesh-Barnea, 10-20

  • Chapter 10:   Two trumpets. Leave Sinai.
  • Chapter 11:   Grace in spite of complaining—quail.
  • Chapter 12:   Miriam and Aaron jealous of Moses.
  • Chapter 13:   Spies to Canaan.
  • Chapter 14:   Will not enter Canaan.
  • Chapter 15:   Offerings and punishment when in Canaan.
  • Chapter 16:   Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. God judges.
  • Chapter 17:   Aaron’s rod budded.
  • Chapter 18:   Priests and Levites: Duties and support.
  • Chapter 19:   The red heifer and cleansing.
  • Chapter 20:   Moses hits the rock. Edom. Aaron dies.

Plains of Moab, Balaam, and Idolatry, 21-24

  • Chapter 21:   The bronze serpent. Amorites and others.
  • Chapter 22:   Balaam, the Angel, and the donkey.
  • Chapter 23:   Balaam blesses Israel – Prophetic proverbs 1-2.
  • Chapter 24:   Balaam blesses Israel – Prophetic proverbs 3-7.

Plains of Moab, instructions before crossing the Jordan, and Joshua, 25-36

  • Chapter 25:   Idolatry with Moabites and Midianites, and judgment.
  • Chapter 26:   Census of the new generation.
  • Chapter 27:   Passing the Mantel to Joshua.
  • Chapter 28:   Offerings, sacrifices, feasts.
  • Chapter 29:   Offerings, sacrifices, feasts.
  • Chapter 30:   Vows.
  • Chapter 31:   Midian’s defeat and the spoil.
  • Chapter 32:   Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh’s land.
  • Chapter 33:   Egypt to the Jordan—a review.
  • Chapter 34:   Borders, leaders, and lands.
  • Chapter 35:   Levite cities. Murder.
  • Chapter 36:   No inter-tribe land transfer.

Numbers: Key Doctrines

  • Decently and in Order, 1-4
  • Nazirite vow, 6
  • Levites, 8
  • Divine Guidance, 9
  • Grumbling, 11
  • God Provides, 11
  • Spiritual Cowards and Spiritual Heroes, 13-14
  • Divine Attributes, 14
  • Divine Discipline, 12, 13, 20, 21
  • Authority, Service, Pride, Rebellion, 16
  • Moses and Failure, 20
  • Bronze Serpent and Faith Salvation, 21
  • Balaam, 22-24
  • Passing the Mantle, 27
  • Tribes and Land, 34
  • Cities of Refuge, 35

Lessons for us from Numbers, 1 Corinthians 10.6ff

  • God is a God of order (1-4; 1 Corinthians 14.40)
  • Live and obey by faith—Faith application and Faith-Rest (1 Corinthians 10.11, 13, 14; Hebrews 3-4)
  • Spiritual Cowards (grumble and unbelief) and Spiritual Heroes (1 Corinthians 10.11, 21, 13-14; 2 Timothy 4)
  • Authority, humility, and rebellion, in ministry (1 Corinthians 10.12, 16; 1 Corinthians 4; 3 John 9-10)
  • Divine Discipline (1 Corinthians 10.11, 14, 16, 20, 21; Hebrews 12.5-13; 1 Corinthians 11.3-31; Acts 1-11)
  • Failure does not stop service (1 Corinthians 10.20; Luke 22.54-62; Acts 1.15; 2.14; 10.5)
  • Salvation by faith (21; John 3.14-16)
  • Passing the mantel: transition of authority and leadership (1 Corinthians 10.27; Titus 1.5; Philippians 2.19-30)
  • Importance of spiritual heritage (1 Corinthians 10.8, 16, 34-36; Philippians 1.27-30)