The Gospel of Numbers

Okay, I know that title looks really strange.  What good news can there be in  numbers? Is this some kind of weird numerology, finding divine messages in certain sequences or meaning of numbers?  Not at all!  This is about the Good News found in the fourth book of the Bible, the Book of Numbers.But where is the Good News?

Numbers is named from the first four chapters, which record the census of the tribes of Israel and a census of the various priestly clans of the tribe of Levi. That gets a little dry. The next six chapters, if you keep reading, are all about breaking camp and leaving Sinai, the place where they met God and received the law.

But the main content of Numbers is the history of Israel, mainly a record of their grumbling during forty years of wandering in the wilderness. That punishment came from refusing to obey God and conquer the land that God promised them.  You can read about that in Numbers 13 and 14.

Once you get past the early chapters that may not have captured your attention, Numbers includes some of the most interesting stories in all the Bible; stories you may remember from your Children’s Bible Story book, stories like Joshua and Caleb showing great faith when everyone else was afraid, the story Aaron and Miriam opposing Moses when he married a Cushite woman, most likely a black African, which by the way, was fine with God – more on that later.  There are stories of rebellion and judgment, water from the rock when Moses struck it, the story of Balaam where a donkey talks, and the story of seduction to idolatry through sexual temptation.

But do you know the story in Numbers 21, during one of their many times of grumbling, when God judged them with venomous snakes, leading to many deaths?  During that judgment, The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake a put it on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live”  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole.  Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Numbers 21:8, 9

Why?  What is this? I can’t explain to you why God chose this strange method, but I can tell you that it was another in the numerous Old Testament advance illustrations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Reported in John 3:14, 15, we read,  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Do you know the next verses?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18

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