In Summary: The book of Numbers opens with a census of the people of Israel. Guess how it finishes? With a census of the people of Israel. Rather than try and tease out some great meaning in the names or deal with the interconnectedness, I’ll go here and stop with it: when you compare the numbers of Numbers, family for family, the wilderness wanderings have not cost the nation any strength.
None. God has raised up a replacement for every person lost due to unfaithfulness. Every one of them.
So quit whining about the lost generation and get to work being the generation God has placed here and now.
A Portion in Focus: Numbers 26:53-56 is the focal point in this passage. In-depth study of names and meanings exceeds what I think we need here, but this summary is valuable. We learn about the distribution of the land to the people. What can we learn?
In background, we need to remember that in agrarian economies, land equals work, work equals survival, therefore land equals survival. The allocation of land was critical for the survival of the people, because everyone participated in agriculture for survival. Even the bulk of the religious leaders did so—though eventually a specialized economy developed.
There, are, though, three keys to understanding this:
- There is faith in God’s words. How so? The people are not in the land yet, so any discussion of how to divide assumes the surety that God will deliver.
- There is provision for needs. Some of the families had grown more than others, some started out bigger, but there would be no dividing the land simply by blocks. Instead, bigger groups got larger allotments to even out the provision of need. What they did with it as time went by mattered to their wealth, but the starting point was as equalized as possible.
- There is protection from fraud. Lots, which were seen as revealing God’s will, were used to allocate land. Every family would receive enough, but they would not get to pick their own. Instead, they would have the opportunity to work with whatever the lot provided, and have to make it happen.
- We have faith in God’s Words. God has stated things very plainly in the Bible, and we trust in those words. Has He promised His presence? Then we do not seek to “feel” God near, we trust that He is. We trust, though we do not always see. We trust, even though years stand between now and fulfillment.
- We do the work necessary to provide for our needs. There is usually something ahead of us that we can do which provides for us. It may be something we do out of obedience to God that feels unrelated, but it’s there. Do what you have in front of you.
- We do what is necessary to provide for others. Not to empower laziness, but to generate the opportunities for others to walk in obedience as well. Perhaps you are able to create a business that can provide meaningful work for others. Perhaps there are other ways. You have to seek that yourself—under how God is leading you.