Today we begin the book of Numbers. This is the fourth book that Moses is responsible for writing. It continues the giving of the Law, taking account of the Israelites who came out of slavery in Egypt and it will be here that we see the spies sent into The Promised Land, punishment for disobedience, as well as witnessing God’s power and majesty.
As we begin the reading we encounter a census of the people. As American’s we participate in a census for our government every ten years. For us it helps align the government with the populations of our country, plus other things. For the Israelites it helped give them order. It tells us not only are there 603,550 fighting men and their leaders, but there are also women and children, and may even be men who are not listed that are too elderly to fight. We are safe to assume this nation is over one million strong in population and possibly even over two million strong.
This census helps to organize the nation into their family clans. In Numbers 2 we see God giving them instructions on how to move about, how to set up camp, and how to divide into fighting groups. I think it teaches us that in the midst of chaos … you try moving one to two million people through the wilderness without chaos happening … that God desires some sort of order. You look at the world he created and it has order. Our natural world functions with order. Our natural world functions as if it has purpose. This can and should be a lesson for us in the way we construct our lives.