I wrote this a few months ago from extra background information when I was preparing a sermon from the book of Numbers.  Since the Daily Lectionary is about to switch over to Numbers at the end of this week, I thought I’d reblog this for you all in preparation.

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One of the prominent (and obvious) features of the book of Numbers is that it begins and ends with a census – or numbering – of the people of Israel.  By tribe and family, the men of fighting age are counted, reported, and tallied over the course of several slow-going chapters.  Few readers find this riveting stuff, placing Numbers near the bottom of the popular favorites list for many Christians.

It should be noted that a large portion of the middle of the book does contain a collection of unique and insightful stories about the travels and exploits of God’s people during the majority of the 40-year wilderness period.  The censuses at the beginning and end of the book are tallies of the people near the beginning and the end of that long stretch of time, so what is contained in between is the majority of what we know for…

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