Numbers is the fourth book of the Pentateuch. It was written by Moses. Genesis tells us of the creation and of the fall; Exodus tells of redemption; Leviticus emphasizes the importance of one’s holy walk with God; and Numbers emphasizes the importance of one’s holy work or service for God. Somebody has said that Genesis shows us the way down; Exodus, the way out; Leviticus, the way in; and Numbers, the way on.
THE NAME. The name “Numbers” comes from the fact that it records the enumeration of Israel. Numbers as Leviticus is a continuation of the walk and service of the children of Israel after their exodus from Egypt. This book reveals the awesome power of God to keep precise records of the words and deeds of people (Dan. 7:10; Matthew 12:36-37; Revelation 20:12). It records the rejection of God’s will (Hebrews 3:7-19) and the consequences of wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. There were two great numberings of the children of Israel. This is why it is called the book of “Numbers”.
Born-again believers are able to receive learning, comfort, and patience from the history of Israel because Moses was a shepherd and Israel was an unique church (Isaiah 63:11; Acts 7:38; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11).
THE AUTHOR. Again, Moses is the one God used to pen it, as He did of Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus. The 36 chapters of this book were penned by Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.
THE THEME. The theme of Numbers for our lesson purposes will be “The Forty Years in the Wilderness.” The Jews have just left Egypt and are going to the Promised Land. In Numbers they make the trip to the door of the Promised Land at Kadesh barnea. In Numbers 13-14 the Lord tells Moses to send out the twelve spies to view the land. The spies come back and give a marvelous report of the size and strength of the people who live there and the Israelites’ inability to conquer them. Ten of the spies vote against going in; only two, Joshua and Caleb, vote for entrance.
2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. …
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
What is Grace? Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.
Grace is also the desire and ability to do the Will of God.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The Disciples had great grace.
Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
We are saved by grace. God gives us what we don’t deserve. God gives us the desire to get saved.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Christians who don’t have grace don’t have a desire to do anything for God.
Why wouldn’t a Christian have grace or a desire to grow and do the will of God?
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
A Christian would not have grace because they are proud. To the degree you are humble is the degree you want God to use you. To the degree you are proud is the degree you don’t care about the things of the Lord. If a Christian is apathetic and uncaring about the things of God it is because of pride. A person who is proud can’t be taught anything because they think they know everything. If you lose your excitement in the Christian life it is because you got proud and God stopped giving you grace and started resisting you.
They came to the place of giving all to Christ (crossing the Jordan River) and entering into the victorious Christian Life (the Promised Land), but they found that Satan fights the hardest when we go the highest, and they were unwilling to give their all!
The Jews had the choice to live by faith and trust God but they didn’t. There will always be battles in your life. You must learn to trust God for the victory. There will always be things in your life that are bigger than you are. You need to trust God. The same God that saved you is the same God that is in full control and knows what is going on, so you can trust Him.
Matthew 6:25-26 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Matthew 6:28-34 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Someone tells the story of a man who hired someone to build a fence. He asked what the job was and was told, “Build a fence ten miles long.” The fellow began working, and all he could think about was how long the fence was going to be and how much work he had ahead of him. He quit the job! Another fellow was hired. He asked what his job would be and was told, ‘Your job is to spend a year building a fence.” He worked a day, realized how much tine he had left, got discouraged, and quit! Another fellow was hired. He asked what his job would be and was told, ‘Your job is to dig a hole and put a picket in it. When that hole is finished, dig another hole and put a picket in it, and just keep putting pickets in holes until I tell you to quit.” This fellow finished the job.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Faith is not optimism or positive thinking; it is believing the pure word of God regardless of the immediate outcome (Daniel 3:16-18).
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
The devil will always try to scare you away from living for God. He roars that it is too hard to live by faith and you can’t make it and God won’t take care of you. He is a liar. The devil’s tactics are deception and fear to scare you away from living for God. He scared the Israelites into not wanting to go in the land God had prepared for them. Fear comes from the devil.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I John 5:16-17 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
This is not a particular sin. It could be any sin, but it comes when a Christian does more harm for Christ on earth than he does good. If a tree doesn’t bear fruit, the owner may cut it dawn. If a limb doesn’t bear fruit, the tree is pruned. If a Christian doesn’t bear fruit and God is convinced he isn’t going to, God will take him home to Heaven. Just as a mother tells a child, “If you can’t behave outside, you’ll have to come in, sit by me, and spend the day in the house,” God looks at us and says, “If you can’t behave on earth, you’ll have to come up here to Heaven and sit by Me, so I can keep My eye on you.”
Ephesians 1:16-18 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Read your Bible
Go to Church when the doors are open.
This is the start of our purpose in life. If you will do these things, then God can guide you and lead you into what you ought to do in more specific areas of your life.
Psalm 123:4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.
Psalm 92:4 For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.
Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Extra Truths from Numbers
Numbers 3:5-8 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
6 Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.
7 And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.
8 And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.
Music is a powerful tool for the worship of God and the exultation of the flesh (Ex. 32:18; 1 Chron. 15:16-28). Fleshly music is usually the first evidence of worldliness (Ezek. 33:32).
Numbers 3:40 And the Lord said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names.
The Bible is definitely a male-dominated book. When men honor God’s word, the women are treated with kindness and care (Eph. 5:25-28; 1 Peter 3:7).
Numbers 5:22 And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen.
The first occurrence of an amen reveals it means that one is in agreement (1 Kings 1:36). And honest amen is an encouragement to the speaker and it adds conviction to the other listeners.
Numbers 11:4-6 And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
6 But our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
The mixed multitude retained the attitude of Egypt while walking in the actions of the God of Israel (Ex. 8:23). This bad attitude is contagious to others and it reveals the desires of others. The attitude and beliefs of Egypt need to be forsaken by the believer (Gal. 5:24). One’s heart attitude is the most vital ingredient to right living (Ezra 7:10; Prov. 4:23).
The world’s diet as a whole appears healthy, but it is fleshly and destructive (Ex. 15:26; Ps. 69:22). Flesh products are allowed after the Flood (Gen. 9:3), but they should not be the main staple of one’s diet (Gen. 1:28-30; Prov. 23:1-3; Heb. 13:9).
Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
The family and church members complained about the pastor’s wife. Miriam could’ve been heard saying, “He thinks he’s right and everybody else is wrong.” Frustrated ambition of control is a regular occurrence in the ministry (Neh. 6:14; Acts 20:30; 3 John 9-10).
Numbers 12:5-8 And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
God revealed words of Scripture through dreams and visions before there was written revelation of his words (Gen. 20:3; Job 33:14-17; Rom. 9:17; Gal. 3:8). Now that God is done giving His Word, never hold to anyone’s dreams or visions.
Numbers 15:25-26 And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord, for their ignorance:
26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them; seeing all the people were in ignorance.
The majority were wrong at the time of the flood and the crucifixion. They will be wrong at the second coming of Christ also (Matt. 24:36-38). Ignorance is no excuse, but it does receive some leniency compared to willful ignorance (Hosea 4:6; Luke 12:48; 2 Peter 3:5).
Exodus 23:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil;…
Numbers 16:1-3 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:
2 And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:
3 And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?
Church trouble can usually be traced to one or two people (Num. 16:22; Neh. 6:14). It often stems from the music department (Ezek. 28:11-15). Korah accused Moses of control and manipulation, while doing the same with the princes (Rom. 2:1). The trick of controlling people is to not let them know they are being controlled. Direct and obvious control breeds resentment and rebellion. Indirect control is accomplished through deception of the mental process of gullible people (Prov. 14:15-18). Korah would have insinuated that people were just following a man. He wanted them to follow him because he desired the attention and prestige (Prov. 12:11; 3 John 9-11). It is wise to follow the right man who is on the right path (1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Thess. 1:6). Korah wanted the priest’s office without the call of God, which is similar to the Nicolaitans (Heb. 5:4; Rev. 2:6). Korah’s children knew the truth about their manipulative father, so they ran when they saw the judgment of God upon Korah’s envy of Moses (Ps. 106:16-18; Numb. 26:11).
Numbers 16:22 And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?
Clean and unclean spirits can give thoughts to people (1 Kings 22). The Lord illustrated this truth by speaking to the spirit inside the man (Matt. 16:23; Mark 5:8-9). One must reject ideas that are contrary to the Scriptures (2 Cor. 10:3-6; Eph. 4:23).
Numbers 16:28-33 And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.
29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the Lord hath not sent me.
30 But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.
31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
Korah berated Moses, so discord, and receive the execution of the beast and false prophet (Rev. 19:20). God hates the sin and the sinner in this case (Ps. 5:5; Prov. 6:19).
Numbers 16:41-43 But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord.
42 And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared.
43 And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation.
No sympathy was to be expressed for Korah and his ilk (Lev. 10:6). The foolish people, who blamed Moses for Korah’s death, received plagues from God (Gen. 18:25; Ps. 19:9).
Numbers 17:6-10 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.
7 And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness.
8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.
9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.
10 And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.
No tree has buds, blossoms, and fruit at the same time. This miracle was a confirmation on Aaron’s call as the high priest. The rod pictures the resurrection of the Lord (Heb. 4:15-5:10).
Numbers 19:1-4 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2 This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:
3 And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face:
4 And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times:
The red heifer pictures the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and the cleansing power of God’s shed blood (Acts 20:28; Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7). The birth of a red heifer in Israel met the requirements for a genuine holy cow. The calf was born on 15 April 1997. It was hailed by religious Jews as a divine sign for the construction of the third Temple in Jerusalem. No flawless, red heifer has been born within the land of Israel since the destruction of the Temple by Titus in 70 A.D. In November 1998, the red heifer was declared unclean because a spot of white hair was found on the animal. If the Jews accepted the messages of Peter and Stephen regarding the murder of their Messiah, the red heifer and it’s ashes would’ve been used for purification (Acts 2:36; 7:52). Ash Wednesday is a perversion of the ceremony.
Numbers 20:7-13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
9 And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
13 This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.
Look at verse 24
Numbers 20:24 Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.
God punished Moses because he disobeyed one Word of God’s command. Moses smote the rock when he was told to speak to the rock. Every word is important to God, not just the beliefs, fundamentals, message, or principles. This act of disobedience portrays the mass of Rome which supposedly reenacts Calvary (1 Cor. 11:27-30; Heb. 6:6). Moses’ action ruined a picture of Christ’s Eternal Sacrifice at Calvary (Heb. 10:10-14). Moses was not held accountable for the actions of the people, but he was held responsible for his reaction to the people.
Numbers 21:5-9 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
When people gripe at God’s chosen man, the gripe is really against God (John 15:18).
The serpent of brass pictures the Lord Jesus at Calvary (John 3:14-15; 2 Cor. 5:21). The Lord Jesus took upon himself the sin of the world (1 Tim. 4:16). The laver of brass pictures the daily self-judgment of a born-again believer (Ex. 30:18; 1 Cor. 11:31-32).
Numbers 21:14 Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon,
Foolish scholars and archaeologists are usually looking for some hidden knowledge, like the boyhood and early manhood of Jesus, to impress people and justify their sin of ignoring God’s inspired, written revelation (Prov. 17:16, 24; 18:1-2). God’s omissions are as inspired as His revelations (Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18); in that, theyare unnecessary information (Deut. 29:29).
Numbers 22:1-12 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.
2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
3 And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
4 And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
5 He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
6 Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.
7 And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.
8 And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.
9 And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
10 And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying,
11 Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.
12 And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.
Balaam’s actions reveal the subtle steps to apostasy and death. Balaam had the plenary, verbally-inspired originals, but his desire was fame and fortune (1 Tim. 6:9-10; 2 Peter 2:15). He was a typical hireling (Num. 22:15-17; John 10:12-13), who refused to declare the words of God that did not benefit his ministry (Acts 20:27). Balaam’s ministry was his god and he needed money to promote his ministry. Nothing could be allowed to harm the influence of his ministry, including truths of Scripture. Apostasy of the profits and priests (Mal. 2:8) breeds apathy in the people (Jer. 5:30-31), which leads to anarchy by the princes (Prov. 28:2). Noah Webster said, “The principles of all genuine liberty, and otherwise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weekens or destroys the divine authority of that book maybe accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer.”
Numbers 22:17-19 For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.
18 And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, IF Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.
19 Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more.
Balaam spake AS the words of God, but not ALL the words of God (2 Chron. 18:13). He declared the basic fundamental that would’ve promoted his goal. As any fundamentalist, bailing gave only one third of God’s message (Numb. 22:12-13).
This is pious claptrap or garbage. Balaam was holding out for more money.
A serious student of the scripture notices the word IF. God said Balaam could go with the man IF they called him. Balaam wouldn’t miss this opportunity to further his ministry and he went with Balak’s servants without them calling, which violated what God said. Some new Bibles change the word if to since; therefore, they lose the reason for God’s anger.
Numbers 22:25-34 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
26 And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
27 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
32 And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:
33 And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.
34 And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.
Balaam knew God was displeased because God almost killed him. Balaam was trying to put a guilt trip on God, so he could still go with Balak’s servants.
Numbers 23:5-10 And the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak.
6 And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab.
7 And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.
8 How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied?
9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!
Balak reveals the real intentions of Arabs against the Jewish people. No Muslim Arab can be trusted to keep any peace treaty. Hudna means a peace treaty with an enemy may be signed in order to gain strength or concessions, but it is limited to 10 years (Ps. 55:20-21; 140:1-3).
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
The Lord will not change his mind about an inflexible issue. Flexible issues may change according to man’s actions or Gods attitude (Ex. 32:12; 1 Sam. 23:12-14; Jonah 3:10).
Numbers 33:50-53 And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
51 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
52 Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
53 And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.
The word pictures is changed in the new Bibles. Pictures and images provide the wicked heart with visions of sin (Ezek. 8:7-12; Rom. 13:14). The moving pictures of television and more deadly in promoting fornication and perversion than still pictures because they appear more lifelike (Ps. 101:3; 2 Peter 2:14).
Numbers 35:11-13 Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.
12 And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.
13 And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.
The cities of refuge or for protection of the innocent during an accidental death. They are a doctrinal picture of the Lord Jesus sheltering the sinner from judgment (Rom. 8:1). They also picture Selah Petra, the place of refuge for the tribulation saints (Isaiah 16:1-4).
The lawful purpose for the cities of refuge was to protect one involved in an accidental death. This allowed cooler heads to prevail; in that, and then was innocent unless proven guilty. The congregation served as the jury in the trial. If the manslayer was proven guilty of murder, the death sentence was past is lawful judgment (Eccl. 8:11; Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:1-5). The execution of the murder cleanses the land of the slaying of innocent blood (Num. 35:33).
The book of Numbers reveals the awesome power of God to keep precise records about his children. This knowledge ought to produce fear in the heart of the child of God to live an holy life.
OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF NUMBERS
Numbers was penned by Moses and it is the book of testing. Its name is derived from the census or numbering of the people on 2 different occasions, one when they should have entered the Promised Land, and the other 38 years later when they finally did enter the Promised Land.
THE PREPARATIONS FOR A FREE GENERATION!
Numbers 2:2 – “Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.”
The position of every Christian in the body of Christ is determined by God – with Christ as the Head. (I Cor. 12:18)
Abstinence from wine. This was symbolic of the separated person desiring to refuse the pleasures of this world and to receive one’s total joy from the Lord.
Long hair. Since long hair on a man was a reproach or a shame (1 Corinthians 11:14-15), the separated person was showing his willingness to identify himself with the reproach which Christ was also to be (not for having long hair, which He did not have, but for bearing the shame of our sins).
The pillar of cloud furnished the people a visible guidance during the day and night. When the pillar began to move, the people would break camp and follow the pillar until it stopped, which indicated where the new campsite was to be located.
Christians have been furnished with a visible, divine guidance – the Bible. (Ps. 119:105)
The trumpets were blown to summon the people.
The trumpets were blown to be a warning.
The trumpets were blown to go to war.
The trumpets were blown at appointed feasts.
The trumpets were only sounded through Aaron and the priests. God has raised up preachers in His church to be His trumpets of alarm and warning. (Rom. 10:14)
Here, we see that God’s perfect will was refused and substituted by man for His permissive will.
When the report of the spies was heard, the people chose to doubt God’s deliverance and chose to remain outside of Canaan.
The eventual death of all people over the age of 21 (Num. 14:33) would have required an average of 7 funerals each day for over 38 years!
The journey from Egypt to the Promised Land was part of God’s will for His people, but NOT the years of wandering. Notice the significance of each of the stopping points in this journey.
Red Sea – was a picture of Calvary, as it was the place of their deliverance.
Marah – was the place where God turned their bitter water (trouble) into sweet water (blessings).
Elm – was the place of refreshing in the path of God’s will, representing the filling of the Holy Spirit for service.
Sinai – was the place of contrast between God’s holiness and our depraved nature.
Kadesh-Barnea – was the place where the people’s faith was tested, and where they failed. This was the beginning point of a 38 year detour for God’s people, which serves as a warning and is not to be imitated.
Korah, a cousin of Moses, rallied the leaders of the tribes in rejecting the God-given authority (Moses) and attempting to substitute a manmade authority. (Num. 16:3) – “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?”
God’s grace is evident in the fact that the sons of Korah were spared.
This chapter is the most dismal one in the book as it begins with death of Miriam, and ends with death of Aaron, and contains the sin of Moses in between.
The sin of Moses was two-fold:
Disobedience – He struck the rock instead of speaking to it as directed by God.
Self-exaltation – He tried to take credit for the miracle of drawing water from a rock, rather than giving the glory to God. (Num. 20:10) – “And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?”
III. THE PREPARATIONS FOR A NEW GENERATION!
Moses made a bronze serpent on a pole as the only cure for the poisonous snakebites of the fiery serpents.
It pictures Christ, hung on a cross, able to remove the sting of death, if one would only look to Him and live (John 3:14-18).
Balaam was shown God’s perfect will (Num. 22:12) and rejected it for His permissive will. (Num. 22:20)
Notice the 3 dangers of Balaam:
His “way” – He exploited the ministry for personal gain. (2 Pet. 2:15) – “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;”
His “error” – He exercised humanistic reasoning – God must curse Israel because of their wickedness. (Jude 11) – “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”
His “doctrine” – He encouraged the abandonment of a separated lifestyle. This was the most destructive blow to God’s people! (Rev. 2:14) – “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”
God provided a place of shelter for those who were being sought by the “avenger of blood” for accidentally causing the death of a person.
Notice how Christ is presented as our Shelter by the names of the cities of refuge.
Kedesh – means “holy place.” The holiness of Christ becomes a refuge for the unclean.
Shechem – means “shoulder.” Christ bore our burdens upon His shoulders and provides a refuge for the weary.
Hebron – means “fellowship.” When rejected by family and friends, Christ is willing to provide a refuge for the homeless.
Bezer – means “stronghold.” Christ is our only shelter and defense against God’s judgment and thus provides a refuge for the helpless.
Ramoth – means “exalted.” Christ was exalted to the right hand of God and is now our intercessor and provides a refuge for the hopeless.
Golan – means “separated.” We are to be separated from the world unto Christ, who is a refuge for the tempted.
CONCLUSION: As the people failed the testing of their faith, God forced them to endure a death march of unbelief.
During this time, the people wasted 38 years, suffered needless afflictions, and did not grow as a people. When they finally entered Canaan, they had 1800 fewer men than when they began.