This section begins with a census of God’s people, organized by tribe and clan, and totaling 601,730 people (plus 23,000 Levites who weren’t listed because, as priests, they did not receive a land inheritance). Of this number only 2 (Caleb and Joshua) remained from the census taken in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 1).
After this, justice is carried out for the daughters of Zelophehad, and they received their father’s inheritance despite the fact that he had no sons. Then God tells Moses that his time is going to be up soon, Moses requests that God appoint a leader over Israel so that they have someone to shepherd them going forward, and God chooses Joshua to fill this role.
The next two chapters go into detail about the timing of certain sacrifices; daily, weekly (on the Sabbath), monthly, and then at each of Israel’s seasonal feasts/holidays. This section closes with Moses delivering God’s expectations when it comes to vows.
What is one key verse? Why?
“If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
This verse stood out to me because it shows me how important what we say is to God and to those around us. The New Testament verifies the significance of keeping your word with scriptures like Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12. In fact, Jesus urges that we shouldn’t even make oaths, but that we should have such integrity that our “yes” and our “no” should be enough to stand on their own.
How does what you read change your vision of God?
This passage reminds me that God always keeps his promises, and that he expects the same of us. So far in what we’ve read this year, God has promised some ridiculous things, like that Abraham will have a child at 100, or that Moses would go back to Egypt and lead his people out of slavery. But God is always able to follow through on what he says!
How does what you read change your vision of yourself or others?
I am not omnipotent, so I have to be very careful about what I promise and what I say I will do if I want to be like God in this way! It’s important that we know ourselves enough to not promise more than we are capable or willing to do, because that can hurt others’ trust in us.
How will you Go With God because of this reading? (What is an action step?)
I’ve realized that over my life I have been quick to say things that I think will appease people, but that I don’t really expect myself to follow through on. Even little things like “I’ll pray for you”, I will sometimes say because it feels like the right thing but then I never actually pray for the person!
I want to think more carefully about the words that I say, especially when it comes to promises, and expect myself to follow through on the things that I do promise to others. I want to have more integrity and sincerity when it comes to my interactions with others.
Where did you see Jesus in these chapters? (What made you think about Jesus?)
Jesus followed through with the most difficult task ever assigned to anyone, and did it joyfully (Hebrews 12). As a result of that all of the promises of God are fulfilled through him.
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
2 Corinthians 1:19-20