The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Bible and the fourth of five books called the Pentateuch, that are believed to have been written by Moses.  The book of Numbers gets its name from the census that was taken to ‘number’ the men in each of the tribes of Israel.  This book covers the almost forty years that the Israelites wandered in the desert before reaching the promised land.

The book of Numbers contains one passage with respect to the Holy Name and it is the priestly blessing that the LORD taught Moses.  It is Numbers 6: 24-27, “The LORD bless you and keep you!  The LORD let His Face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!  The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!  So shall they invoke My Name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

It is instructive to ask why the Israelites wandered for forty years in the desert.  Chapters 13 and 14 lay out the details.  To summarize events, the LORD told Moses to appoint one person from each of the twelve tribes to go into Canaan, the promised land, to scout out the land.  The scouts were to see what kind of land it was, what the people were like and to bring back some of the fruits from the land.  They scouted for 40 days taking note of the people and they brought back some figs, pomegranates, and grapes.  Upon their return, many of the scouts spread a disheartening account to the Israelites.  They doubted their ability to claim the lands from the giant races of people that were currently inhabiting the land.  The people became so discouraged at the news of the new land that they became angry with Moses and Aaron.  The people wanted to rebel against the plans of the LORD and go back to Egypt instead of going to Canaan.  Two of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb tried to encourage the people saying, “The country which we went through and explored is a fine, rich land.  If the LORD is pleased with us, He will bring us in and give us that land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  But do not rebel against the LORD!  You need not be afraid of the people of that land; they are but food for us!  Their defense has left them, but the LORD is with us.  Therefore, do not be afraid of them.”

The LORD responded to the threats of rebellion, “How long will this people spurn Me? How long will they refuse to believe in Me, despite all the signs I have performed among them?”  Moses tried to mitigate the LORD’s anger.  In the end the LORD’s judgement came upon the Israelites. He said, “Of all your men of twenty years or more, registered in the census, who grumbled against Me, not one shall enter the land where I solemnly swore to settle you, except Caleb, son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, son of Nun. Your little ones, however, who you said would be taken as booty, I will bring in, and they shall appreciate the land you spurned.  But as for you, your bodies shall fall here in the desert, here where your children must wander for forty years, suffering for your faithlessness, till the last of you lies dead in the desert.  Forty days you spent in scouting the land; forty years shall you suffer for your crimes; one year for each day.  Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me.” 

Let us try to be more faithful to the LORD.  He provides us with so much.  Let us encourage each other to be faithful to Him.  He will notice that we turn a new heart to Him full of thankfulness and gratitude for His kindness and generosity.

 

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