Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Numbers, chapter 1. How many of you, just to show of hands before we pray, how many of you, on a show of hands, have never studied through the book of Numbers? Don't be ashamed. Great! So glad you're here tonight with us and I trust that the Lord will use it and speak through this part of God's curriculum, his Word, the fourth book of Moses, the book of Numbers.
Let's pray just to focus our minds to make that commitment to the Lord that we're going to do our best to concentrate and when we read through and struggle through some of these names and places and numbers, etcetera, and discover why the Spirit of God has included them. Let's pray.
Lord, we are always excited whenever we have the opportunity to study a brand-new book or one that we haven't visited for quite some time. There are fresh lessons, some of which either we have forgotten, or never seen before. And they're new just like your mercy is, new every morning. I think of the prayer of David who said, "Open my eyes that I might behold wondrous things out of your law."
And as we read the fourth book of the Law, open our eyes Lord, the eyes of our understanding that we might see, grasp and apply the truths that come from your law, the wonderful, wondrous truths. Keep our minds keen and clear and intact and not distracted, as there are so many things in this life. And our minds have been conditioned to be distracted with all different sorts of media and messaging. We just want to return to a simplicity of reading and applying, in Jesus' name, amen.
If I could transport you back into the backseat of a 1960s era Rambler Station Wagon without air-conditioning, red vinyl upholstery, a trip of about three thousand miles, and four ornery, whining, complaining boys in the back, you have some idea of what a Heitzig family vacation was when I was growing up. Or if I were to do it, perhaps, it would be best in a Rod Serling Twilight Zone voice. Imagine being transported to a white Rambler Station Wagon going across the vast landscape of America with four whiny boys. You have just entered the Twilight Zone. [laughter]
My vacations were a father who believed in covering lots of miles in one time, just stopping long enough to get gas. Hotels? Didn't want to do that. If they knew somebody in the area, we'd stay there. But we would travel from California to Minnesota in the summertime in that station wagon. I don't know how they did it listening to us. Whenever there was an A&W Root Beer---remember those places?---the best! [laughter] Or a Stuckey's, remember those places? Always wanting to stop.
Now, as I look back and I think how tough it was for them to endure that. Here I am I with my three older brothers; take that scenario times about a million, so two to three million or so people, for not three thousand miles or a week vacation or two or three weeks, but for forty years, and you have a scenario of where we are in the book of Numbers. It says the book of Numbers, and it's a title that throws a lot of people. "Numbers? I hate math." You can relax.
It's called the book of Numbers because of the census figures that appear in chapters 1 and chapters 26. A census is taken of the children of Israel twice and recorded twice. And there are thirty-eight years and ten months between chapters 1 and 26 filled with years of wandering. The book of Numbers, we get the title from the Latin Vulgate Translation. In Latin it's called Numeri. The Septuagint or Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew is the term Arithmoi, where we get the word "arithmetic" from.
It has been called by some scholars the Book of Journeyings, or by others the Book of Wanderings, or by others simply The Fourth Book of Moses. My title for the book of Numbers---"On the Road Again." [laughter] And again, and again. [sings] On the road again. Moses and I are traveling on the road again. It's just this unending circular movement where they're not really going forward. I guess I would subtitle it, "How to Make a Two-Year Trip into a Forty-Year Trial."
I say that because when we will get, Lord willing, to Deuteronomy, chapter 1, we are told that it is an eleven-day journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea, eleven days, less than two weeks. That's how long it should have taken the children of Israel to get from where they were encamped by Mount Sinai, at the foot of it, into that Promised Land, Kadesh Barnea, the border that takes you up into the land of Canaan---eleven days, about one hundred fifty miles.
One hundred fifty to two hundred miles, depending on the route that you take, but you take that sea route and you go right up. But as I mentioned, we have thirty-eight years and ten months between chapter 1 and chapter 26. What should have been an eleven-day journey took almost a forty-year agony to get there. Just like the previous book Leviticus, all happened in one spot at the foot of mount Sinai, they never moved. Here they are on the move.
Now, let me just, because we're chapter 1, give you a little bit of setting and background and we will catch up and move into it. If you look at it from the beginning of our Bibles, we've been through, so far, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and now Numbers. And our practice has been an Old Testament book, then a New, then an Old, then a New, then an Old, then a New, now another Old. And it just kind of keeps it interesting, keeps the spice in it, a little bit of alteration.
The book of Genesis is the book of beginnings, everything begins there. The heavens and the earth begin there. The nation of Israel begins there. Sin begins there. God's plan of redemption begins there. The family of Abraham that will eventuate into the nation of Israel begins there. The book of Genesis has four great events and four great people.
The four events are: the formation of the heavens and the earth; number two, the fall of man. Everything changes after that point. We are plunged into despair looking for redemption. Event number three, the great flood of Noah. Event number four, the fallout because of the sin of humanity that will spread from generation to generation. Those are the four great events, followed by four great people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph.
That's the book of Genesis in a nutshell, or as we once said, The Bible From 30,000 Feet. That's Genesis from thirty thousand feet. We move then into the book of Exodus which is a book of redemption, rescue, and a book of revelation where God speaks his commandments, his covenant promises to the people from Mount Sinai. We get to the book of Leviticus, it's all about an approach to God through sacrifice and through sanctification.
Holiness, worship, are themes of that great book, how to approach God. And then we come to the book of Numbers. Here's another way to look at it: in the book of Genesis it's all about wondering. We wonder at God's power. We wonder at God's creative genius. We wonder at God's patience with mankind. It's a book of wondering. People are wondering at God. He is a wonder to them.
The book of Exodus is a book of waiting. We're waiting for redemption. The children of Israel were waiting in Egypt as slaves, waiting to get rescued. That's what God promised would happen. And then they're taken out of Egypt and they're waiting for the Promised Land. The book of Leviticus is a book of worshiping. It's all about priesthood. It's all about the tabernacle, how to hang out with God, how to approach him in worship. So we have wondering, waiting, worshiping, and now wandering.
And you're going to see the children of Israel moving but not making progress---boy, is that frustrating---expending energy, working hard, and never going anywhere. Now all of us, just to make a general application of the book, all of us face wilderness periods of our Christian walk where we feel alone, and isolated, and dry, and in despair. And we feel like we take one step forward and three steps backward. But we were never meant to stay there. We were never meant to live in the wilderness.
And though there are seasons, as Peter said, "Though you go through trials, for a season if need be," it's a season. It's never God's intention for us to hang out there perpetually, but to move on. So, just think about your own life, your own spiritual vitality. Are you growing or are you just aging? Are you growing up or are you just growing old? Are you just watching the wrinkles appear but never making spiritual progress the closer you get to eternity?
It could be that you're in a similar pattern to the children of Israel going in circles for thirty-eight years, ten months. When you put all the chronology together, about forty years. In First Corinthians 10, which is a Scripture I often turn to whenever I study the book of Exodus or the book of Leviticus or the book of Numbers, so I've done this before. But let me just read this to you. Paul is speaking about the Old Testament and he's speaking about this time period of the children of Israel.
First Corinthians 10, let me just read it to you. "Moreover, brethren I do not want you to be unaware that all of our fathers were under the cloud, and passed through the sea," the Red Sea, "were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and they ate of the same spiritual food, and they drank of the same spiritual drink. For they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased." Now you remember reading this, yes? "God was not well pleased." You're going to find out why God was not well pleased in the book of Numbers. "With most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness."
"Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after the evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written: 'The people sat down to eat, and drink and rose to play.' Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did," speaking of this era in the Old Testament, "and in one day twenty-three thousand fell."
In the book of Numbers we have organization, followed by disorganization, followed by reorganization as they are entering into the Promised Land. They organized themselves, under the commandment of God they number the people. They organized into camps according to God's commandments. Then they become very disorganized wandering about, sinning against the Lord, complaining against the Lord, experiencing the judgment of Lord. There's some bright spots followed by reorganization of another census given before they enter into the land. Now, in the first four chapters we have the organization of the priesthood, and the organization of the people; first the people, then the priesthood.
So, we're in chapter 1, verse 1, "Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai," just that part of verse 1 could be an entire sermon series. "The Lord spoke to Moses." How did he do that? Did he text him? Was it an e-mail? Was it an impression he got on his heart? Well, according to other portions of the Torah, the Law, we have already read that God spoke to Moses intimately. The term is face-to-face as a man would speak to a friend, and that God's voice was audibly heard by Moses from between the cherubim on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tent of Meeting, the tent of the tabernacle.
God spoke to Moses, but we must go on, we can't stop there. "In the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying." So with this chronology they were there at Sinai, when we get to this point, for about eleven months, and then this census is commanded to be taken. Now, there is some geography I just want to cover basically with you. First of all, we have the wilderness of Sinai. You have maps in the back of your Bibles, unless you have a little phone or an iPad, then you have to figure out which button to push to get to your map.
But the Sinai wilderness looks like a triangle with the widest part of the triangle on top, and the narrowest tip on the bottom. The wilderness or the Sinai Peninsula, as it is sometimes called, is about twenty-five thousand square miles of abject wilderness. You don't want to be caught there. At its widest tip or widest expanse on top, it's about one hundred fifty miles long across. It is about two hundred fifty miles deep from top to bottom.
On its west side it is bordered by the Gulf of Suez; on its other side it is bordered by the Gulf of Aqaba. It rising as a tableland to about an average or a mean altitude of twenty-five hundred feet. So it does have its seasons, though it's typically hot and hotter. That's the wilderness of Sinai. Then there is Mount Sinai. Now Mount Sinai is the place where God gave the Ten Commandments, God gave the Law, God gave the blueprints to the tabernacle. That's the place Moses went up and heard from God and came down and spoke to the people.
So there's the Sinai wilderness and somewhere in the Sinai wilderness is Mount Sinai. Now, I have heard, I have read, I have watched the TV specials, and seen the DVDs on where the real Mount Sinai is, enough to say we don't know exactly where it is. So you can spare giving me the books or giving me the DVD or the new National Geographic Special that you saw where the real one is, because I've seen them all. And typically they're a rehash of the ones that went before.
So, we don't know. There are two places traditionally where Mount Sinai has been placed and I say "traditionally" because the people with the DVDs say it's neither of those places, but it's over in Saudi Arabia. But traditionally there is a central spot and there is a southern spot. The southern spot, the most popular one down in the southern Sinai is a mountain range called Jebel Musa in Arabic. Jebel Musa arises seventy-five hundred feet in elevation.
It really is three mountain peaks, one of which is called Mount Horeb, where Elijah fled from Queen Jezebel. And the furthest peak away, the tallest one has been traditionally called Mount Sinai. There's a monastery there, though many scholars do not say that is the place. But, if you were to say that was the spot, and, again, we don't know, at the base of Jebel Musa is a large expansive plane which could fit the scenario of two to three million people camping out, wandering around before they make their way up to Kadesh Barnea.
Now, I want you to picture in your minds being Moses, looking down at a few million people in the middle of nowhere. And what you think in your mind as pandemonium, you have to take out of your mind, because it was very, very organized. Because we see here God organizing it, numbering the people, organizing them according to clans, according to families, and according to tribes; so that you could literally be anywhere in a that encampment and with a few reference signs, which I will show you, you could know exactly where you are in the camp and which direction is which.
It was very organized. You would look down from Mount Sinai to an expanse and in the very center of all of those people, you couldn't miss it, would be where God is to be worshiped. In the middle of town was the tabernacle. By the way, European towns have been built on this structure, where the church with the steeple is in the middle of the town. The tabernacle---do you remember the tabernacle? If you were to look at it from the outside, looked plain and simple.
You'd see a seven-foot-high white linen fence, just cloth, and it was cloth just so you couldn't see inside. And what was going on inside was kept kind of private, away from the outside. If you were approaching the tabernacle from the east, you would notice that the courtyard is seventy-five feet wide by a hundred fifty feet deep. Again, a linen fence all the way around, pillars of acacia wood every several feet, capped by silver sockets, silver hooks, and silver rods to keep that linen material tight and in place.
So, you enter through the gate, immediately on the eastern portion, the nearest portion to where you have entered, you see two articles of furniture, an altar made out of brass where animals where sacrificed. It's a quite large piece of furniture for an altar. Its seven and a half feet squared and four and a half feet tall. A priest climbs up a ramp with the animal to offer it on that brass altar.
Next to that just a bit beyond it would be a laver or a wash basin where the priest would go through a ceremonial cleansing to sacrifice and between sacrifices and to deal with the enormous amount of blood that would be used in the sacrifices. Then as you keep going forward toward the western side of that 150-foot-deep courtyard, you come to a tent structure completely covered in skins. You can't see what's inside. But you look at it and it measures about fifteen feet across by forty-five feet deep.
Now, you don't know it, but if you were to go inside, you would see it's divided into two sections, that tent, that little covered tent. The first section is called the Holy Place. The second section is called the Holiest of All or the Holy of Holies. No one could go there except once a year the high priest on a particular day could go into that Holy of Holies. In that first little encampment on the left-hand side would be a menorah, a brass---excuse me, a brass---it's because I go to Jerusalem and they sell brass ones---a gold, solid gold menorah, candelabra.
On the right-hand side as you enter in would be a table with bread on it. Right in the middle before a veil that separates you from that Holy of Holies would be another little altar, not like the brass one in the outer courtyard, but a small one, and taller than it is wide, a gold altar of incense where incense is burned and it's fragrant smelling. And then, finally, where the ark of the covenant is kept in that special room, the Holy of Holies. That is the tabernacle, that is the center, that is town center.
Now, that is how it's going to be in Israel for good. Later on they're going to get rid of the tabernacle and build a---what?---a temple, a permanent structure. Solomon will build that temple. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians will destroy that temple. Zerubbabel will come back from captivity and rebuild that temple. And, eventually, we get to the New Testament era, Herod the great will enlarge that temple.
So if you're ever reading historical books and you read the first temple period and the second temple period, the first temple is the Solomon's temple, or temple of Zerubbabel, rebuilt. The second temple period is the temple of Herod the great, the enlarged one. The tabernacle then will become, eventually, the temple, and that will happen in Jerusalem. That's where God lives. That's where God hangs out among his people.
You want to hang out with God? Get close to that structure, go through those sacrifices, approach God with that priesthood. Now aren't you glad we live in New Testament times under the new covenant, because under the new covenant all of that doesn't matter. As Stephen in Acts, chapter 7, said to the Sanhedrin, quoting even what Solomon said, "For the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands."
God doesn't care about the temple, the building; God inhabits people, not property. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God dwells in you and God corporately dwells in us. And there's a special power and a special presence, I believe, when we gather together, two or three or more. Something special happens. God inhabits the praises of his people. So God inhabits people, not property.
The body of Christ is central. The temple of the Holy Spirit is more important than the structure. So God didn't care when we met in a theater down the street, and before that an apartment complex, and after that a strip mall, and then, finally, a Tuff Shed that's been converted, a soccer arena that's been converted. It should always be about people, not about property.
"So the Lord spoke to Moses"---I'm sorry, I've only gotten through verse 1. [laughter] And this is what he said, verse 2, " 'Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their father's houses, according to the number of names' "---notice this, "the number of names," and names will be given after this---" 'every male individually.' "
What's so great about a census? What's so great about a bunch of numbers or even names? Some of these names are tough, trust me. What's so great about them? Nothing, unless it's your name. If you're in that list, it's pretty great. Those who were in this list, these who were numbered and named, it was pretty great.
And I believe I see in this book God saying, "I love you, and I love you, and I love you, and I know you all by name individually. You're important to me." There are numbers and there are names in this book. And this is God's command, so it tells me that people and individuals are important to God, and God says count them. Whenever God counts people, it's because people count to God.
There's a great story by Marvin Rosenthal in a book called Israel My Glory, where somebody was going through a neighborhood taking a census, a poll for the city population. Came to one house, there was a mother there with her three children. The census taker said, "Yes, ma'am, I'm here to take a census. How many live here in this house?" She said, "Well, I'm here with my three children. Let's see," she's starts naming, "there's Billy, and there's Martha."
And she starts naming all the names. And the guy said, "I don't care about the names, I just care about the number." And she said very frankly back to him, "My children don't have numbers, they have names." God knows your name. Your name, the Bible says, is written in the Book of Life, the Lamb's Book of Life.
Jesus said to his disciples when he sent them out around the Sea of Galilee and they were all stoked that they had power over demonic influences, he said, "Don't rejoice that you have power over demons, rejoice that your names are written in heaven." God knows your name. And God knows the number of the hairs of the your head. And for most all of us that changes every single time we put a brush through it. [laughter] You're important to God.
So he says, " 'Take a census.' " Verse 3, " 'From twenty years old and above---all who are able to go to war in Israel.' " So, this is a military census. " 'You and Aaron shall number them by their armies. And with you there shall be a man from every tribe, each one from the head of his father's house. And these are the names.' " So, you have fourteen people. You have Moses; you have Aaron.
Then you have leaders of the twelve tribes who are about gathering the information from their respective tribes to take a census, to figure out the number of men from twenty years old and above who can fight and go to war. Well, that's pretty revealing on a couple of fronts. Number one, because they had been in Egypt as slaves for a number of years, and every time there was a problem, who fought for them? God fought their battles. God did miracles. Egypt is over; he wants to mature them into a nation and tells them to develop their own standing army.
So, God is commanding an army to be brought out, and you count the number of people in the military service, conscripted for military service. We live in a fallen world and we live in a world that has war. And I appreciate all the bumper stickers that say, "Lay Down Your Arms," and "Don't Have War," and "Visualize World Peace." But they don't do a lick of good except making the people who put them on their car feel really good that they hold that position and their friends honk and go, "Yeah." It's about all it does.
We live in a fallen world and because we live in a fallen world there are scoundrels who gain power and get weapons and abuse people. And since there has been humanity, until Jesus comes again, we will have to take up arms and either defend ourselves from an attack or attack those, according to Augustine who called it a "just war," who are attacking those who are helpless. So, though I love to read the pacifist position of "no war," "no arms," it just does not work in this culture, in this society.
It never has and it never will. I'll make that prediction right now. You can put me on record as saying that. It never will. Visualize it all day long, man. Give the peace symbol all day long to your friends. It's cool; it just doesn't work. Now some people think that in reading the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus was advocating a total pacifistic position. For he said, "Don't resist an evil man. And if somebody hits you, just turn the other cheek," which you should do.
Jesus was speaking personally, not nationally, not corporately. On a personal level, if somebody personally attacks you, that's where you love your enemies. That's where you turn the other cheek. But---and here's why I bring this up: there was a book that made a great impact, still makes a great impact, you've probably heard of it or read it, by Leo Tolstoy called War and Peace.
And taking the premise of what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount, Tolstoy advocated that a society should not have an army, should not have police, should not even have courts or judges, because those things resist evil. So, if we took Tolstoy's model of absolute pacifism, it is a prescription for any tyrant to completely run amok in that kind of a world.
Francis Schaeffer---if you've never read his writings, I commend them to you. He said, "I am not a pacifist in today's fallen world, simply because for me to be a pacifist would mean I neglect the people who need help the most." Here's his example: You walk down the street tomorrow. As you walk down the street you see a thug, some middle-aged guy with a bat, and he's beating a little girl who's about twelve-year-olds. At that moment in time and space what does love mean to you? What does love mean? It means you hit your microphone really hard. [laughter] I'll do it again. Sorry. No, that's what I'd do to the guy. [laughter] That's what love means to me at that point. I do something to stop.
Now, at first I give a verbal warning, and I'm very nice about it. I'm going to enter into a negotiation. "Please, sir, that's a naughty thing you're doing. Your mother would not like you doing that if she saw you today. [laughter] I beg you, please, put that down." And he says, "Pfft, forget it! Get out of here or I'll get you too with it." "Well, if you don't stop I'm going to raise my voice and get louder and keep saying it over and over again." At some point, if he does not cease and desist, what does love mean to you then? It should mean that you will do whatever necessary, whatever it takes to stop that man from injuring that child.
So, I think that's an important setup, because here is God saying, "Get an army together. Get them ready." Because they're going to enter into the Promised Land in the book of Joshua and they're going to face battle after battle after battle by the will of God as he gives them the land of Canaan. Boy, we better get going.
" 'These are the names,' " verse 5, " 'of the men who shall stand with you: from Reuben,' " now, from the tribe of Reuben, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, the tribe of Reuben. " 'Elizur the son of Shedeur; from Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai; from Judah,' " that is, the tribe of Judah.
" 'Nahshon the son of Amminadab; from Issachar, Nethanel the son of Zuar; from Zebulun, Eliab the son of Helon; from the sons of Joseph,' " remember he had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, " 'from Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud; from Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur; from Benjamin, Abidan the son of Gideoni; from Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai; from Asher, Pagiel the son of Ocran; from Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel; from Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan.'
"These were chosen from the congregation, leaders of their fathers' tribes, heads of divisions in Israel. Then Moses took these men who had been mentioned by name, and assembled all of the congregation together on the first day of the second month; and they"---notice this---"they recited their ancestry by families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, each one individually."
It amazes me that they could recite their genealogy. Now let me let you in on something: if you've ever traveled to Africa or parts of Middle East, this is not uncommon. There's a great book that I read by a woman named Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was a Somali Muslin woman raised in Somalia. The name of the book---she left Islam and it's a great treatise on Islam in the real world. She left Islam and she tells about it as a child growing up in a Somali culture.
She since left Somalia, moved to the Netherlands, and eventually became part of the Dutch parliament in that country. What she said, as a Somali she was taught to memorize and be able to recite her father's genealogical record for the past eight hundred years, eight hundred years. It was something trained early on and every African clan, she said, can do that. All the way back to the beginning of her father's clan, eight hundred years.
Now it's done for two reasons: to honor their ancestors. And, number two, so that when you have a conversation with a person that you meet, you keep going back in your genealogical records until you find some common ancestor. And you, "Oh, we're related six hundred fifty years ago." [laughter] You'd be able to do that eventually. So they were able---it was very important to keep genealogical records. And to recite them that far back was a practice that has been going on around the world until modern times.
Some of you don't even know who your great-grandparents are and you have to get on a computer and on go to, like, ancestry.com and pay money to figure that out. Not a bad practice, but they memorized it. They were chosen, and they did it according to families. Now, let me just apply this, because the rest of the chapter is going to go very quickly. You have a spiritual pedigree, a spiritual ancestry. You are children of?---God. Very good, all three of you. [laughter] All one of you. [laughter] "Children of---I don't know. Am I supposed to put in my dad's name now? my mom's name?" [laughter] "God" or "Jesus" are always good answers in a church, just sort of a general rule.
First John, chapter 3, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!" And that is what we are, said John. how do you become children of God? "As many as received him [Jesus Christ] to them God gave the power to become children of God." You have a spiritual pedigree, man, a spiritual heritage. You've been grafted in and you're a child of God by faith because Jesus Christ did that for you, made you and gave you that spiritual heritage, that spiritual pedigree.
"Now," verse 20, "the children of Reuben, Israel's oldest son, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers' house, according to the number of names, every male individually from twenty years old and above, who were able to go to war: those who were numbered of the tribe of Reuben were forty-six thousand five hundred." Now, remember I told you that there are two different figures for a census given in this book, one in chapter 1 and one in chapter?---26. Good memories.
It's interesting to make a comparison between this census and thirty-eight years, ten months later as they're entering the Promised Land. How many are there? According to these numbers, this tribe is forty-six thousand; there will be forty-three thousand seven hundred in the second census. So there will be a 6 percent drop in this tribe. They'll have less in almost forty years, than more.
Verse 22, the second tribe after Ruben is Simeon. "From the children of Simeon, their genealogies by families, their fathers' house, those who were numbered according to the number of names," it's given in verse 23, "fifty-nine thousand three hundred." In chapter 26 there will only be twenty-two thousand, a dramatic drop, 63 percent drop.
Verse 24, "From the children of Gad," verse 25, "those who were numbered of the tribe of Gad were forty-five thousand six hundred and fifty." In chapter 26 it will drop to forty thousand five hundred or 11 percent drop. Five-thousand one hundred and fifty less; 5150. If you're in the law enforcement, that has whole different meaning to you. This is the crazy tribe, 5150.
Verse 26, "From the children of Judah, their genealogies by their families." Verse 27, "Seventy-four thousand six hundred." Now, they're going to gain, in chapter 26 there will be seventy-six thousand five hundred, a 3 percent increase. Verse 28, "From the children of Issachar," and verse 29 tells us "fifty-four thousand four hundred." There will be sixty-four thousand three hundred in chapter 26, so an 18 percent gain in that tribe.
Verse 30, "From the children of Zebulun," and verse 31 tells us, "fifty-seven thousand four hundred." In chapter 26 there will be sixty thousand five hundred, so a 5 percent increase. Did I cover verse 30 and 31? Yes? Okay, I thought I did. "From the son of Joseph," verse 32, "the children of Ephraim, their genealogies, their families," there's "forty thousand five hundred" listed here. There will be thirty-two thousand five hundred listed in chapter 26, or a decrease of 20 percent, pretty significant.
Verse 34, also one of the sons of Joseph, "From the children of Manasseh, their genealogy by their family," and it's listed in the next verse as "thirty-two thousand two hundred." In chapter 26 it will drop down to---or it will go up to fifty-two thousand seven hundred. That's an incredible 64 percent increase in this tribe's population from Manasseh. There's reasons for that. You don't need to know tonight.
Verse 36, "From the children of Benjamin, their genealogies by their families," and the next verse tells us, "thirty-five thousand four hundred." It will increase to forty-six thousand five hundred in chapter 26, or a 29 percent increase. Verse 38, "From the children of Dan," and the next verse tells us "sixty-two thousand seven hundred." It will be sixty-four thousand four hundred in chapter 26 by the time they enter the Promised Land, a 3 percent gain.
Verse 40, "The children of Asher," their number is given at "forty-one thousand five hundred." It will increase to fifty-three thousand four hundred, almost twelve thousand people, a 29 percent increase. "From the children of Naphtali . . . fifty-three thousand four hundred." It will drop down to forty-five thousand four hundred, a 15 percent drop in their population. Now look at verse 44, summing it up.
"These are the ones who were numbered, whom Moses and Aaron numbered, with the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each one representing his father's house." So a total of fourteen men. "All who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel. All who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty." Six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty men of war or military age, twenty years and above.
By the time we get to chapter 26, the conglomerate number is going to drop 3 percent to six hundred and one thousand seven hundred thirty. Now once again, let me just propose to you: There should have been a gain after almost forty years, but there's a loss. Again, there's a lot of reasons to talk about why that happened. However, we're going to see some of the reasons, the judgment, the generation that dies in the wilderness because of the judgment.
God's purpose was for them to be fruitful and multiply, to grow. That's what he said, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth." They will go down in population. They're going to make a lot of motion, but not really have growth. And, again, you apply that personally. Are you growing up? Are you maturing? Are you expanding spiritually? Or are you just growing old? There is a considerable drop in the genealogy record.
Verse 47---see we're almost done with the chapter. "But the Levites were not numbered among them by their fathers' tribe; for the Lord had spoken to Moses, saying; 'Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel; but you shall appoint the Levites over tabernacle of the Testimony, over all of its furnishings, over all the things that belong to it.
" 'They shall carry the tabernacle and all of its furnishings; they shall attend to it and camp around the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down; when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall be put to death.' " So only this tribe handles the stuff in the tabernacle.
" 'The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, everyone by his own camp, everyone according to his own standard, according to their armies; but the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of Testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel; and the Levites shall keep charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony.' Thus the children of Israel did; according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so they did."
The Levites were not to fight at all. They were not to be fighting men. God wanted them to make jeans---just kidding---Levi jeans. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. [laughter] Now, the reason God wanted the Levites wasn't, again, a purely pacifistic---"Well, you're to be the pacifist." It was a simple reason. Reason number one, you're all about the holy stuff, all about the tabernacle, all about worship. And because it's central to the camp, there needs to be a staff full-time that deals with this.
Number two, if a Levite were to be a soldier, he would be defiled because he would be around corpses. Somebody would be dead on the battlefield. Any contact with the dead makes him immediately defiled ceremonially. So as to avoid the ceremonial defilement, the Levites were totally for the work of tearing it down, setting it up, and transporting it across the wilderness.
So as we close chapter 1, there's a couple important lessons: God knows your name, you're an individual, you're important to God. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Your name is written in heaven. Lesson number two: there's a unique place of service for each one of you in the body of Christ. That's a New Testament concept. Let's take it out of the Old Testament concept of the tabernacle and the tribes, the New Testament is a more well-rounded, more beautiful, more understandable metaphor.
We're a body, the body of Christ. Christ is the head. We are members of one body. Some of us are eyes. Some of us are ears. Some of us are internal organs. Nobody's least, but vital to the health and the resilience of that body. And as Paul said in First Corinthians 12, "The eye cannot say to the ear, 'I have no need of you'; nor the hand to the foot, 'I have no need of you.' "
But God has placed us uniquely and individually with certain aptitudes, certain propensities, proclivities, skills, anointings that help us do what God called us to do, so we could do it with passion. And somebody will ask, "Well, I want to get involved. How should I get involved?" I've actually had people say, "Well, I've decided not to get involved until Pastor Skip comes up to me and says, 'Here's what you're supposed to do.' " Ain't gonna happen. [laughter]
It's not going to happen because I don't know you individually. You know yourself, you know how God made you, and discover the giftings of the Holy Spirit that God has given you. And I always ask people, and they go, "Well, what shall I do?" I say, "Well, what do you want to do?" "Well, I love telling people about Jesus."
"Well, tell people about Jesus." "Well, I don't like to be front, I like to be just like behind to scenes serving." There's so many different areas and places, find the strengths you have, plug in. Because we all need every part of the body, otherwise we have, like, parts of the body that aren't working. That's really tough to carry that around. We all work together.
Chapter 2---okay, I got five minutes. I'm watching the clock. We won't be able to get through, but it is to me so awesome, because God commands the structure of how they are to camp around the tabernacle. So there's a tabernacle, and then there's the priests around the tabernacle, and the priests are designated by clans and families.
So, on the eastern side of the tabernacle, that's where Moses' tent is. That's where Aaron the high priest, that's where his tent and his family is there. On the other side, the opposite side, the western side of the tabernacle is where the Levitical clan, the Gershonites---you're going to get to know these guys, trust me. The Gershonites are out west or right immediately on the western side of the tabernacle.
On the northern side of the tabernacle is where the family of Merari is, all part of that Levitical tribe. And then on the south side are the Kohathites, or the Kohanim, the priests. So we have the Levites, according to their clans, built around the tabernacle. Then God says, "That's not enough, I want more structure. You've taken a census, now disperse the tribes, the twelve tribes into four camps."
Four camps: the camp on the eastern side will be three tribes, on the south three tribes, on the west three tribes, on the north three tribes. So you have four camps of three tribes. The tribe on the east, that is, the kingpin tribe, the tribe that has the standard or a banner that anybody can see. Remember I said you could be at anywhere in the camp of Israel and know exactly where you are? Well, on the eastern side you would see the standard of the kingpin tribe of those three, the tribe of Judah.
On the western side you'd see three tribes of Israel that are pitched out west under the tribe of Ephraim. His banner would be flying high, and you could see, "Oh, that's looking west. Oh, that's Judah, that's looking east." On the north there were three tribes under the banner of the tribe of Dan, and he had his insignia, his logo, his standard. And then to the south was the tribe of Reuben along with two other tribes. So you have three, three, three, and three; twelve tribes broken up into four camps.
So, just like you can be in Albuquerque, you can be anywhere in this town, and you always know which way is east, because what's east? The mountains are east. You got the---we're in the Rocky Mountain southwest, and where we are here the Sandia Mountains jet up, and you always know that's east. And it's a very easy city to navigate. It's just built on a simple grid. Very easy to get around. It struck me when I first moved here, after a day, it's like---I got this place wired. It's, like, the easiest place to move around in.
You could be anywhere in the camp of Israel and know what direction you're in because of the these four camps and these four standards. The most interesting thing is what is on, what symbols are on these four camps of Israel. They're not by accident. And when you see what these are, and you compare them with the book of Revelation, and the four gospels, and a few other Scriptures, you see unmistakably the thumbprint, the fingerprint of the Holy Spirit. It's an incredible message.
Again, four camps, four standards or banners or insignias or logos, so that you could be anywhere and you could look up and see them. What's amazing is what's on those banners. But time's up. And you knew that was coming, right? It's always a little teaser. It is to me one of the most fascinating things about the book of Numbers, and I think you need to know what's on those banners to really understand other things that are going on in heaven, as well as in the New Testament. Okay, let's pray.
Father, we thank you for the opportunity to as a family gather around the exposition of your Word in a book that is just not that familiar to us. But it is familiar in our experience. For often we go to wondering, and then waiting, and even worshiping, to wandering. And I pray for any of my brothers and sisters who are struggling in a wilderness situation in their own existence. There's a lot of movement, but they don't feel like their making progress. And I pray for us, your people, that we would be growing up in Christ, not just growing older. That the vibrant life of Christ would be reproduced in us and through us, and we would grow from glory to glory into the same image as our Savior, in Jesus' name, amen.