Praise in Numbers
The Bible, the journal of the Israelites’ journey with God;
The privilege of entering his holy presence (4:18-20);
HIS desire to bless us and give us peace (6:24-26);
HIS gift of rest for us (10:33-36);
HIS slowness to anger and his willingness to forgive sin (14:18);
HIS attentiveness to the prayers of those who intercede for us (16:46-48);
HIS provision (20:7-11) and protection (21:8-9), which foreshadow the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf; and
HIS ability to turn evil into good (22:21-35).
Worship in Numbers
Journeys and journals go together. A journey without a journal becomes a forgotten trip. A journal without a journey is a record of a life going nowhere. Journals record for us and later generations where we’ve been and what we’ve done. The book of Numbers resembles a carefully recorded journal. It testifies to what God accomplished for his people in the wilderness and also teaches us about the many lessons the people learned along the way.
In a way, God created this journal as a travel guide for our own spiritual journey today. As we read of events that shaped people’s practices and customs, we gain a greater understanding of our own walk with God.
We who live and worship in buildings of wood and stone no doubt lack this Israelite insight into worship. How are worshipers who keep the same address for years—perhaps even for a lifetime—supposed to understand concepts like traveling, camping, and following? By reading Numbers, we can gain greater insight into these ideas. Finally, Numbers teaches us that worship involves meeting God along the way as well as at our destination. For despite the difficulties and unsettled life of a long journey, we realize that God is with us as we follow him.
Although God repeatedly showed himself as powerful, faithful, and caring, the Israelites consistently rebelled. They complained whenever disappointments came their way and often doubted God’s ability to provide for them. As God responded to this constant faithlessness, he taught them two seemingly contrasting ideas about following him. First, God requires our worship. As humble servants we pay homage to our majestic Creator, who causes the earth to tremble and destroys his enemies. By covenant, the Lord possesses his people, and he is worthy of our offerings. Second, God requests our worship. God desires that we choose to worship him as much as we obey him out of obligation. Like the Nazirites, we are given opportunities to serve God voluntarily in worship, and we can freely offer him thanksgiving and praise as we recognize his kindness and love toward us. So we should offer worship not only because God is worthy but also because we want to freely and joyfully express our love for him.
God sets apart some of his people to lead others in worship (1:49-50).
Public demonstrations of our vows and commitments to God form a vital part of our worship (6:1-21).
Music is a gift from God that can recall his salvation (10:8-10).
We must not presume God’s favor on our efforts simply because we have invoked his name (14:39-43).
Symbols can help us recall God’s deeds and commands (15:37-40) and his healing power (21:4-9).
God can use his enemies to bring blessing on his people (23:1-12, 18-26; 24:1-9, 15-24).
We should confess our sin and be purified as we enter God’s presence (31:21-24).