Counting Numbers…….yes, Lord, count me in !!

16 03 2011

DAY SEVENTY-THREE : Numbers 1 v. 1  – 2 v. 9; Luke 1 v. 26 – 38; Psalm 33 v. 12 – 22

How interesting…the day I start Numbers, Moses conducting a census, our census forms drop through the post. What are the chances of that ????
I find myself reflecting on the state taking a census every ten years, whilst we believe in a God who knows us all individually, by name.

This book continues where Exodus left off. The Israelites are in their second year out of Egypt, and as they prepare to leave the region of Sinai, they are counted and organised into their ‘clans’.
Census time – “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one….”
We have a list of those who will help with this administrative task (one man from each tribe).
The families were counted, and those over 20 years old were conscripted to the army.
Reuben clan : 46,500 men over 20 years old.
Simeon clan : 59,300
Gad clan : 45, 650
Judah clan : 74,600
Issachar clan : 54,400
Zebulun clan : 57,400
Ephraim clan : 40,500
Manasseh clan : 32,200
Benjamin clan : 35,400
Dan clan : 62,700
Asher clan : 41,500
Naphtali clan : 53,400
TOTAL : 603,550

The Levites were not counted as they were to tend to the Tabernacle, and were therefore not available to join the army.

I don’t know how many people I pictured crossing the Red Sea, escaping from Pharaoh’s army / Egypt, but this is a huge number….well over a million people (possibly 2 – 3 million people) if 603,550 is the number of men over 20 years old. ‘An Exodus of biblical proportions’ is a phrase I’ve heard recently on the news, whether of people fleeing Egypt, or Libya…mass movement of people.

Arranging the camp – God gives instructions laying out the camp, with each family camping under the banner of their clan, beginning with Judah, Issachar and Zebulun on the east of the Tabernacle.

Birth of Jesus foretold (Gabriel’s second mission) – six months on (in Elizabeth’s pregnancy), Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth. The announcement that, whilst still a virgin, she is to have a baby boy, and to name Him Jesus (meaning ‘God saves’ or ‘God’s salvation’). Mary, the ‘highly favoured one’ is greatly troubled – this is momentous. Gabriel says of Jesus :
~ He will be great (awesome, powerful, majestic, mighty……)
~ He will be called the Son of the Most High (God Himself will be walking amongst us)
~ He will have the throne of His ancestor David (Luke has already told us that Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, is a descendant of David)
~ He will reign over the house of Jacob forever (an unending sovereignty, unlike human rulers)
~ His kingdom will never end (the promise given to David (2 Samuel 7 v. 12, 13, 16) will be fulfilled in Jesus)

Mary’s question is full of honesty, doubt, fear – “How will this be?”

In Gabriel’s reply, it’s the Holy Spirit who will enable this to happen (just as the Holy Spirit would fill John the Baptist (yesterday’s reading), making this child a ‘holy child’, the ‘Son of God’. He tells Mary that there’s another miraculous birth in the family – Elizabeth is due soon.
“For nothing is impossible for God.”
Mary’s “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said (according to Your Word)” is a show of staggering, humble faith. She would face such scorn and malice because of her pregnancy. It would be a very risky step. Her obedient reply contrasts with Zachariah’s inital unbelief.

The angel leaves her…….alone……what must she be feeling.

“We wait in hope for the Lord – He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in You.”




One response

16 03 2011
Jeff Whittle

When we are counting, don’t forget the non Jews who came out of Egypt with Moses. This crowd must have frightened all the neighbors.

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