The English title “Numbers” comes from the two censuses that are central features of this fourth book of the Bible. However the Hebrew title, “In the Wilderness,” is far more descriptive of the book. Numbers tells how God’s people traveled from Mount Sinai to the border of the Promised Land. Imagine, if you will, a type of safari in the Middle East. But when they refused to take possession of the Land, the Lord caused them wander in the wilderness for nearly forty years. Nomads were common at the time; Bedouins still live in that part of the world today. Throughout the book, God is seen as a holy God who cannot ignore rebellion or unbelief, but also as the one who faithfully keeps his covenant and patiently provides for the needs of his people. Numbers ends with a new generation preparing for the conquest of Canaan. Traditionally, Jews and Christians recognize Moses as the author, writing during the final year of his life.
Travelling is rarely without difficulty or complications. You have to make sure you have everything you need for your trip. You may require a visa to gain entrance into a foreign country. Your itinerary may be complicated because it was cheaper to fly with a couple of layovers rather than get a direct flight. It sounds to me like God's people, intimidated by the giants and fortified cities in the promised land, chose to take another direction. I'm sure they regretted it, because their forty years in the wilderness were certainly no picnic. This begs the question : are you willing to pay the price to get to where God wants to take you? Or will you risk falling into the trap of look for an easier or more convenient route, only to discover that the path you chose is fraught with obstacles and complications, that make you miss out on the best part of the trip?
Thankfully, we have a promise in the New Testament for every voyage that we undertake : "His divine power has granted to us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." (2 Peter 1:3-4)
It's time to stop wandering around, and to be more intentional about your destination. Don't think that new experiences in God are only reserved for the hyper-spiritual person. Don't tell yourself that revelation is only given to a freed slave in the wilderness …or a persecuted disciple seeking asylum on an island. Begin to acknowledge what you've been given and use it to launch into new discoveries and a deeper knowledge of the Lord.
If this short exhortation spoke to you, check out my first devotional ebook!