We look into the journeys of the Israelites and various laws that God set for the Israelites, showing how God’s Holy presence was required. Several lessons can be gleaned from this:
1) Worship –The Israelites had nothing to work or toil for in the wilderness. All they had to do was to worship God all the time. Likewise, we are to worship God in everything we do.
2) Separation - The Israelites took 40 years to get rid of Egypt’s influence on them. As Christians, we too are to be separated from this world.
3) The Israelites had to witness that their God who brought them out of Egypt was different in contrast with the Egyptians who had multiple gods. There is no other God but one.
4) Manna was provided each day to feed the Israelites; It parallels our dependence on God, which has to be a daily affair and not an occasional occurrence.
5) The Israelites and their Tabernacle became the witness for God among the surrounding tribes. Similarly, our lives have to be the witness of God’s presence.
6) The Promised Land for Christians is to be in God’s will - enjoying the rest, the peace and the victories over sin and the closeness to God.
The rest of the chapters in Numbers show the ins and outs of Israel’s rebellion against God and the resulting judgment. Again, we can learn a few things from this study:
1) Moses’ conversation with his experienced father-in-law shows that we can refer to non-Christian sources which are useful as long as we know how to distinguish the difference between sound teachings from bad ones.
a) Time and again the ungrateful Israelites complained about food and water; judgement is brought upon them, like the attack of the snakes. We need to set our heart right with God and be contented, rather than complaining. The lifting of the bronze serpent to cure the Israelites also has a very interesting parallel to Christ being lifted on the Cross to cure us of our sins.
b) God’s command of Moses to appoint 70 elders to assist him is a measure for Christian leadership today: leaders should delegate responsibilities to others and work as a team to avoid being burnt out working alone.
c) Do not be envious. (Miriam and Aaron envied Moses and later Korah, the Levite falls into the sin of envy too)
d) Leaders have a greater responsibility of obeying God accurately. (Moses was denied the entrance to the promised land for not carrying out God’s order accurately).
e) You cannot serve God when you have love for money (Balaam, the sorcerer).
f) To approach the holy God we worship, we need to be Careful and Cleansed.