Summary: What I at first thought was a dry and boring book with no relevance to my life, turned out to be one of the most profound and exciting books in the bible, with full of application to my life! Learn how to make it through the "wilderness" of this life suc
Into the Wilderness
Series: A Biblical Guide to Wilderness Survival
August 14, 2010
I have to admit to you this morning that I’m scared to death about what I’m about to do! Today, I’m starting a new message series, but let me tell you what I’m really scared about…
1. I’m scared about the subject matter, because I’m going to do a 37 message series on the book…of Numbers! Have any of you ever read the book of Numbers? (raise hand). That’s what I was afraid of! I remember when I first started reading the bible…I did what most people do, I started reading at the front and worked towards the back. Start with Gen.(explain), Exodus (explain), Leviticus (slow down with all regulations and laws)… then…I came to NUMBERS! And in the 1st chapter, it started naming all the tribes of Israel and how many were in each tribe, using these crazy sounding names that I could hardly pronounce and to be honest…I totally zoned out! I thought, “This has got to be the most BORING book ever written!” So I got as far as chapter 3…and I thought, “That’s it! I’m outta here!
2. The 2nd thing I’m scared about is, I’m scared that you’ll do the same thing I did! If you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to give up…but I want to encourage you this morning…don’t do it! Because after exploring Numbers in detail for a couple of months, I began to discover some truths that lit. blew my mind!
On the surface, I thought Numbers was so simple a 3 grader could understand it, and so I was amazed to find a treasure trove laying just beneath the surface. To paraphrase something Augustine once said, “The bible is shallow enough for a child to paddle in, and yet at the same time, deep enough to drown an elephant. “ That’s true! There’s much more in Numbers than meets the eye! In fact, what I thought was the most “boring” book in the bible, actually turned out to be one of the most exciting, insightful and interesting books in the bible! There’s SOOOO much to learn about the nature & personality of God and how He deals with us…His people! So…stick with me! If you do, you’ll be MORE than glad you did!
With that said, let’s dive into the 1st verse of Numbers as kind of an overview of the book as a whole. The LORD spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt.
-Numbers 1:1 (NIV)
As you start to read the book of Numbers, you begin to realize that it doesn’t really have a beginning. It kind of starts out like it’s in midsentence. That’s because God wants us to know that the story in Numbers is just a continuation of His dealing with His people that started in Gen., ran through Exodus and into Leviticus and Numbers. Now, surprisingly, if you jump ahead, you’ll notice that Numbers doesn’t really have an ending either! It just kind of peters out with the story of some daughters who want their father’s inheritance. On top of that Numbers is a little bit circular. It starts out in the wilderness and it ends up in the wilderness. No wonder the Hebrew name for this book is “In the Wilderness”! It’s the story of God’s people going around in circles in the desert! They start out getting ready to enter into the land God promised them, and at the end of the book they find themselves in the exact same place. From beginning to end, it’s 36 chapters, covering 40 years and one whole generation of people… wandering around in the Sinai desert! Sometimes I’ve felt that way about my life, haven’t you? God is trying to teach me something, but either I’m too stupid or too stubborn to learn it, and so I find myself taking “1 more lap around the desert!”. Trying to learn the lesson I should have already learned.
No beginning? No end? A circular plot with people wandering around in the desert? You’d be tempted to believe that the Book of Numbers is a total mess. But don’t judge a book by it’s cover…because as we’re going to see, God knows exactly what He’s doing every step of the way.
Now, in vs. 1, we pick-up on a conversation that God and Moses are having in the “Tent of Meeting” (or Tabernacle). The “Tent of Meeting” was an elaborate tent (we’ll get into the details later)…but for now, you just need to know that it was a place where Moses could go to meet God face to face. Vs. 1 even tells us WHEN this meeting took place…it was on “the first day of the second month, of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt.” In otherwords, it had now been over a year since God had miraculously delivered the nation of Israel out of 400 years of Egyptian slavery. (remember the plagues and how Yul Brenner used to go around saying, “So let it be written…so let it be done”. Remember how Charlton Heston raised his staff and parts the ‘jello’ so that the people of God can walk through on dry land? Well, it had now been a little bit over a year since all that happened. God had brought them into the wilderness to Mt. Sinai and entered into a “Blood Covenant” with them. (talked about that last week). They were to be His people and He would be their God. He would protect them and fight for them. He would give them land and establish them as His ‘chosen people’, so that the rest of the world would see it and want to get in on the deal.