Posted by: Maggie | October 7, 2007

Numbers Personal Notes, Observations, Points of Interest: 90 Day Reading

Levites care of the temple. Levites could take on servants to do menial tasks, but those servants could not even look at the holy things, or they would die.  Can you imagine such respect?  We don’t even feel that we will “die” looking at unholy, degrading things!  Can you imagine things so holy?  (4:20)  We don’t know what we are praying for when we sing “all consuming fire”, or “purify my heart” in light of this.  God purifies by fire

5:50  If someone took something from someone else, or had to make restitution, they did not just pay what was owed, but 20% moreLife Lesson:  go above and beyond to bless those you’ve wounded. 

5:11 Test for an Unfaithful Wife:  this seems so foreign to us today.  Apparently while God was “populating the earth”, men could take more than one wife AND concubines without any penalty.  Later, God changes this.  Also, we begin to already see some tightening and efforts to reduce conflict, honor wives, and spread things out by regulations to marry only more distant relatives (passed first cousins).

ch6 Nazirite requirements:  reading this in church during the sermon as a young girl, I decided that I wanted my life to be like that of a Nazirite to the Lord…special, holy, set apart, not touching things that were dirty.  I think knowledge motivated me to be even more set apart than many average Christians I knew. I’m still am not sure why they set this time apart to the Lord, or why he speaks of these people, but the imagery is striking to most people who read it.  It is like the “Seals” level of God’s prayer warriors or “The Green Beret”.  These people want to be pure for the Lord during that set apart time.  This scripture kept me from alcohol most of my life–I wanted a clear mind to hear the Lord and be accountable for my own actions.

v11 A Nazarite sins by even being in the presence of something defiled, here a dead body.  What would that mean for us today?  Perhaps “filth sometimes happens to even the holy…and we are still made dirty by it.  Perhaps the message here for us today is that we all need cleansing, just by living…even those who try very hard to stay clean!

The Israelites were governed by these areas, but the Nazirite even more so for the period of consecration, or even for life…not just for self discipline, but for devotion to God in areas of 1. diet, 2.  appearance, and 3.  associations(NIV Study Bible text notes). 

6:3  The Nazarite was to not only obstain from wine, but also raisins, grapes, even grape skins or the seed of a grape…NONE.  Absolute obedience, even “the hint of evil”.  There was to be no chance of “accidental contamination”.   I think of TV content…most of us are happy to say we won’t watch anything with an R rating.  According to this standard, I think God would be disgusted for those of us who have committed ourselves wholeheartedly to him…”not even the seed”

v24-26, one of my favorite blessings in all of scripture.  I give it to anyone who gives me a massage with a kiss on the forehead–the rare few massages I’ve had.  I’m generally uncomfortable with it with massages and strangers.  I so appreciate those who can do something non-sensually that the world would try to corrupt.  It touches me deeply that they can minister comfort and respect and honor to people, and I am compelled to bless them in some special way for their gift and honor shown to me in a vulnerable area for me.

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine upon you

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Ch 7  Dedication of the Temple with the Sacrifices and Offerings

I love the last verse of this chapter:  “When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony.  And he spoke with him.”  Isn’t that cool?  They did it!  They did it right!  God was there!

Ch 8 Setting Up the Temple

The Setting Apart of the Levites:  They shaved their whole bodies, whereas  the Nazirite grew hair.  Message for me is that God’s requirements may be different for one person from another.  To grow hair for one, to cut hair for another…we are not to set the standard of obedience for others in matters of consecration.    Levites were cleansed and consecrated to serve anywhere in the temple except for the Holy of Holies.  The Israelites “layed their hands on them” in a substitution-ary sense, to commission them to serve for them, and as a substitution-ary act in exchange for their firstborn, as the firstborn(s) were spared in Egypt.

The Levites were themselves were presented as a “wave offering” for the Israelites before the Lord.  A wave offering seemed to be a public offering people know about as opposed to other secret giving.  It is an act of celebration, surplus.  Obviously, you don’t lift and wave a Levite, but they were a public sign of God’s provision and goodness.  (8:11)

8:15  Levite Retirement Plan:  “After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a save offering, they are to come to do their workat the Tent of Meeting”.  They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me.  I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn…I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the Tent of Meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them…Men twenty-five years old or more shall come…but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.  They may assist their brother in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work.”  Hubby says this reminds him of a government job…early retirement and a great pension!

9: 1-13 The Lord allowed celebration of The Passover if they are unclean because of a dead body or journey.  Celebration and reminders were that important.  If a brother did NOT celebrate, he then became unclean.  So, God could change the rules when he needed to. (blowing the “parents MUST be consistent” rule for us a bit–we can change the rule when things more important than the rule need to be done.  Thank you very much.)

9:19-23  The people moved when the cloud over the tabernacle lifted, and stayed when the Lord was present.  Does God dictate our lives somewhat like this?  I sense this.  When life is hard and weighty, to not push forward, but pray and rest.  When there is freedom and joy, to go minister.  Look to walk in joy given us overall.

Ch10:8  God adds sound to the sensory experience of the Tabernacle:  trumpets by sons of Aaron, battle, rejoicing, over offerings…”they are a memorial…I am the Lord your God.”

ch10:25  The tribe of Dan had a very short blessing on Moses’s death.  Mainly, they would be people of war.  It sounded like a lot of plain ‘ole fighting and war forecast for them at the time (Samson would later come from this tribe–they were a big people physically). But, look at the job they were given:  they were the “rear guard” for the Ark of the covenant!  Nobody was getting through the back side!  God used the destiny they had for his purposes, even though it looked like a “less than” inheritance at the time.

This is one of those little details I would have missed if I had not been reading at a fast pace straight through…glad I caught this little gem hidden in there!

10:29-31  Moses honors and values extended family:  Moses wants him to go with them and tell them where to camp, to be their “eyes”…to help watch out for them, basically.  BIL says, “Nope…going home to my own land and people”.  And Moses sweetens the deal, saying they will treat them well and share whatever good things the Lord gives.”  We don’t hear the resolution, but we see how Moses treated his extended family.  Jdg 1:16 indicated the Hobab changed his mind because of Moses’s kindness:  “the descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the men of Judah to live among the people of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.” 


“The ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them during those three days to find them a place of rest.” 

11:1 response of the people:

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.  Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.  When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down.  So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them.   The rabble (servants, non-Israelites spread the grumbling to the center, the elders…every family) with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.  But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything by this manna!'”

God heard all the whining, and where it came from (outsiders), and that his people allowed themselves to be drawn by it.  “We don’t have ________!”  God called for the elders to meet with Moses.  Moses got weak to lead such a large people.   God put his Spirit also on 70 elders to assist Moses so that Moses didn’t have to carry this heavy burden, AND he gave them food –enough to make them ill because theyrejected the LORD”, saying “Why did we every leave Egypt?”

When things don’t turn out the way I thought they would, how do I respond?  Do I “loathe the Lord” and long for former days?   God detests it, even when the journey to the new place is hard, and supplies are limited.  He wants us to follow, trusting, rejecting complainers and grumblers, staying rooted and established in him and his provision and supply!!!!  REMEMBER!

11:29, demonstrates Moses’s humility again.  The 70 elders, even the ones who disobeyed and would not go to the Tent began to prophesy.  Aaron asked them to stop to honor Moses, but Moses allowed it, wishing all the people were prophets.  He wasn’t threatened. 

Ch 12:  Miriam, Moses’s sister was angry with Moses for marrying a Cushite and decided upon herself to be his judge. 

God wasn’t happy with what she did because she put herself above Moses as his judge.  God punished her for her mouthiness and for spreading ill-will against Moses, though she was RIGHT in her information.  She did not honor Moses enough to trust God with his punishment.  So, God struck her with leprosy and the whole camp had to wait a week to move on until she was clean again.  NIV Study Bible indicates in notes that the 70 elders given positions while she and Aaron did not may have provoked this spirit of judgment.

vs6-7 God “comes down” in judgment to speak to Miriam.  Indicates that while they all had gifts of prophecy and leadership, God spoke to Moses with special clarity so that he understood what was said to him, ‘face to face’ as one man to a brother, not in riddles.  Many prophecy, but those who know what God is saying enjoy special and intimate relationship with Him that is not “hard”.  (Interesting side lesson on prophecy useful to know.  Why the prophetic can be frustrating to deal with unless the relationship with God reveals understanding through relationship).

CH13  The Classic Promised Land Report

Politics at their best.  Leaders who were afraid gave one report, while those who were hope and faith filled, in spite of their fears, gave a glowing report.  The fearful majority was able to influence the people:  they “gave a bad report about the land they explored…the land we explored devours those living in it…we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”  In effect, they were fearful, so they lied. 

Despite evidence to the contrary…one cluster of grapes took two men to carry!  Negative leaders were able to influence the masses so quickly and spread fear and panic.  A warning for us today.

CH 14  That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud…grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them [again], “If only we had died in Egypt!  Or in this desert!  Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?  Or wives and children will be taken as plunder.  Wouldn’t if be better for us to go back to Egypt?  And they said to each other ‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

I love Joshua’s report of faith!  Wow.  He tore his clothes and wept with Moses and Aaron, and said, “No, their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us, Do not be afraid of them.”

But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.  Isn’t that just the pits?  Sometimes that happens to faith filled people.  But, “then the glory of the LORD appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites.”  And that was the last word on that.  They were punished and had to wait a generation to go in, except for Joshua and Caleb and Aaron.

Moses prayed for the people and for the honor of God to be upheld, and God heard. 

17.  Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared.  The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;…”

“In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pradoned them from the time they have left Egypt until now.” 

 God says in 14:32 “your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness” 

Now doesn’t that humble a parent to read?

v34 “you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you, I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community…”

 v41, a group decides that they can surely go up and possess the land after this point.  But, God allows them to be defeated and killed.  Moses warns them, but they don’t listen, rejecting his authority, and God’s sentence.   Don’t we do this?  Defeated, we reject God’s plan, so He says, “No.”…then, we decide we can do it.  Such stubbornness!  God wanted a “YES!” the first time.  That is all that was acceptable to him and gave joy to him.  We need to work on our “YES!” to God the first time, not grumbled and moaning our way to a self-sufficient “Yes” too late.  {Good story to review with our children also}.

CH15  Supplementary Offerings–wine is added.  Which seems odd, considering God didn’t want the Nazirites to drink it.  It was offered on the fire.  God also distinguishes between intentional and unintentional sins, but both require a price to be paid!  The whole community joins in the offering for unintentional sins, assuming automatically that everyone had them.  {For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”  Romans}.  Defiant sinners were required to be cut off (presumably those with a pattern of sin who did not care about or follow the Lord…see Benjamites in Judges later}.

v37:  God adds a visual reminder for the people on their garments:  tassels.

God was the creator of “learning styles” using MANY learning styles to try to teach the people:  sight, sound, repetition, smell, tactile learning, written word, song…

CH 16 we have some many well-known community leaders rising up against Moses because of three insolent men.  They told him he had “gone too far!”  They said,

“The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them.  Why do you then set yourself above the LORD’s assembly?”

v4 “When Moses heard this, he fell face-down” 

Moses obviously prayed.  And the then said in strength to Korah and his accusers, come forward tomorrow, those of you challenging me, with your censers…tomorrow we will all go to offer fire, and the one God draws near him is chosen.  So, they did.  And Moses added, “You Levites have gone too far!”  He turned their own words back on them rather than internalizing their judgment.

God was going to do away with the whole people [again] and Moses interceding asking him to only deal with them…and God heard.  He asked everyone to move away from their tents.  And the men were burned up, but the censers they were using, the tools, remained holy, and God asked that they be gathered up and sanctified again for use.  This is God!  Keeping the holy, not casting it away also, but taking it out of the ashes, cleansing it, and retaining it’s usefulness!  16:37

Get this:  “the next day, the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  “You have killed the LORD’s people, ” they said.

The nerve.  This should somehow encourage leaders today who serve a thankless people!  And, the Lord heard and threatened to blow them away again!  Moses told Aaron to go light his censer on behalf of the people so that they would be saved, thinking not of himself, but their well-being, like a good shepherd, staying attentive to his work, not to the emotion of the people, but their need.

Levites give redemption for the firstborn (I don’t really get this process).  Anyway, they are provided for, but go NO inheritance of land or anything else as the other children do.  They get gifts from the offerings…an incentive, you would think, for them to teach obedience.  And, perhaps that is why they hesitated to teach.  Oh!  The trouble with money.

God says, “I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites”. 18:20

The “best and holiest parts” of the offerings were, however, to be given to the LORD. 

Ch 20  Moses sins against God.  And it seems as there was no one to intercede for him, he was immediately punished.  Perhaps this was a sign of a leader being held to a higher standard.  He had to take the immediate punishment, whereas the Moses always had the people to intercede for him.  It is interesting later, that Moses blames the people for him not being about to cross over, for their obstinance.  (insert ref.)   Then, in another place, he owns up to it.  Aren’t we all like this, juggling blame, trying to figure out how it might have gone differently “if”…

Aaron dies, the garments and priesthood pass on to Eleazar.

Ch 21.  Arad Destroyed.  God was with them.  People Complain…again.  The journey seemed to bring out THE WORST in them…isn’t that true of us?  Times there is “peace”, we are okay, until we get BORED with the present offerings!  Then, we whine.  Just the same as them.

They had to go around Edom to get to the Red Sea, and the people grew IMPATIENT again and grumbled against Moses and the LORD, again wishing for Egypt, and God sent venonous snakes among them, many were killed.  This time, the people repented before Moses prayed for them and the snakes left (good move, waiting for their repentance:  perhaps Moses is getting tired, or old, or wise here…likely all of the above).

Ch 22 Balaam, the Mystic Prophet, unable to prophecy a negative word about Israel, despite being bribed to do so.  God just kept pressing him until he could only speak truth/blessing…praise you, Lord.  The King wanted Balaam to put a “curse” on them, but he was unable, God prohibited it.  He was believe to prophecy for any god, but at the end, he says:

v18 “I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the LORD my God.”

The donkey is able to speak to defend himself, and he sees the angel before the “prophet” Balaam did.  Interesting.  The animal was actually trying to help him out!  God says:

“I have come to oppose your because your path is a reckless one before me.”

Oh, how we need that kind of love from God today!  That should be our prayer…oppose me if I’m reckless and out of line with your word, only have mercy!

the king said to Balaam, “I said I would reward you handsomely, but the LORD has kept you from being rewarded.” 

Still, Balaam continues to prophecy for the king, warning him of what Israel will do to him in days to come. 

CH 25  The Israelites are influenced by Moab,already, and begin to practice sexual immorality with other men (despite having plenty of women each!), and idol worship, when they were invited (possibly by lovers).  “And the LORD’s anger burned against them”.  God asked that every leader who had worshipped Peor be killed, and Moses did not intercede, he obeyed.  Aaron saw it being brought into the Israelites camp, followed, and killed them, thus saving the community for his zeal for God, and God commended him for making atonement for the Israelites.

Ch 27  Zelophehad’s Daughters

Preface:  There are two stories of women that captured my attention as I read.  Both stories, the women needed something, were given gifts, and went back later to ask for more…each time, they were treated fairly or prayed for to determine the right thing to do, or what they asked for was given.  They were treated kindly when they had fair requests both by God and by men.  First, Zelophedhad’s Daughters:  (later, in Joshua and Judges, Caleb’s daughter who needed springs to go with her land…she beseeched her father and got the springs.)

Here, the women had no brothers and did not want to lose their family name, not their inheritance, and Moses prayed to God, and God agreed that the inheritance should stay in the family…he gave the line of inheritance similar to what we would find today.   These women were wise and business minded, not to be taken advantage of, or to take life as it came.  They thought, shared convincingly, spoke eloquently and simply, and were heard.  They said that if their sisters married outside their line, their inheritance would be lost to others clans.  So, Moses made a decree that no woman was to marry outside her line so that the inheritance for each clan would stay with that clan.  This decree affected not just their situation, but the community and women as a whole to benefit all.  So, the stand the women took had far-reaching implications for everyone.  These are women who led well, though I’ve never heard of them in stories…that is a shame.  They are role models for single women.

Ch 28/29 Review of Offerings 

Ch 30:  VOWS

A rashly spoken vow by a woman, or one he disagrees with after she made it could be nullified by her husband if he acted quickly when he heard it, otherwise, it was presumed to stand.  He bore the consequences for her guilt if he did not speak soon.  Today, this says to me, and maybe I am wrong or presumptuous here, but just thinking out loud…that if an authority over us today sees that our vows are out of line, they can correct us and get us out of some vows.  For example, if a deacon were to vow to assist a single mother, not realizing the room for difficulty in the situation, and a pastor corrected him, he would be free from his vow to the woman to help care for her.  I’ve seen this situation several times.   Otherwise, vows that lead us into sin should be nullified in like spirit, with God as our authority in the matter.  He can release us from a “rash vow” in similar manner today.   He will carry our guilt, even though, in general, we are to keep our vows and not take them lightly.

CH 31  The Midianite Women are Left Alive As Plunder

God corrects them.  He required 100% obedience.  And they finished the job.   They also killed Balaam, the prophet, here.  Each time, they were allowed to keep virgins.  My NIV Study notes say the reason the virgins could live were because they were innocent of the indecencies at Peor (sexual sins, I presume, as virgins in future wars were also kept), also, the boys were killed so that the inheritances of the Israelites were not endangered.

Ch 32  The Transjordan Tribes

This is interesting:  two of the Israelite tribes saw the the land on the other side of the Jordan was good for livestock and wanted to stay there…not cross over!  Moses and the Lord were angry with them, for discouraging the others and not helping them fight their wars to win their inheritance promised.  So, they agreed to fight all the wars, then return to their women and lifestock, which were great in number.  So, the men of war age went on and then returned, leaving all the work to the younger men and women until they returned.  This is where the verse hides, “If you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; AND YOU MAY BE SURE THAT YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT”.  (v23)  A often quoted verse. 

Application for today:   We can be traveling with people who think that we are to stop and be satisfied rather than fighting the wars and getting the ultimate inheritance God has for us.  Either they are to help us, or stay out of the way.  God will deal with them if they do not assist God’s children enter into the fullness of His plan for them.  What a warning to be a servant-helper and not hinder people out of our own fatigue or willingness to “settle”.

CH 33-34–Stages of the Journey and Canaan’s boundaries

CH 35:  Cities of Refuge

I didn’t realize this is where this all started.  God set up six cities of refuge, three on one side of the Jordan, and three on the other (I think), so that if you murdered someone, you would be safe, either until trial (if you did it on purpose), or until the priest at that time died (if you were innocent, killing accidentally).  Even men who killed someone accidentally could not return to their families until the death of the high priest…which seems unfair.  I’m not sure I understand this completely, why the LORD would require this, except that He is in charge of all things.  His Sovereignty is all that can be pointed to in cases of “unfair” situations like this.

Personal Note:  

This is the end of my notes for Numbers.  It held a lot of surprises for me.  I enjoyed the time going back over my penciled points.  I would have forgotten most of them otherwise.  I’m not that disciplined a person, just trying to apply the same learning principles I used in college to remember important points, and reap something from what I learned about my own learning style from those studies.  If I studied those courses thoroughly, surely I owe this similar fortitude.   



  1. […] reading along who want to know what I’m gaining, here is my faithful note collection link:  Numbers:  A Surprisingly Good Feast.  I didn’t call it anything so entertaining over there…it seemed disreptful somehow to […]

  2. Girl… you are so on top of things!

    I have sadly gotten behind the past few days. I’m planning to catch up before Fall Break is over, but whew! It’s hard to keep up when on vacation!

  3. I tried to keep up but alas — I am SO FAR BEHIND. That’s what happens when you go on vacation. When I mentioned in my blog about only being behind one day in my reading I meant my own One Year Through The Bible reading plan…This 90 days I have gotten SO FAR BEHIND I can’t seem to catch up. I guess I’m going to start where I left off and just be FAR BEHIND. Can’t you tell I’m FAR BEHIND???!!! LOL!

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