Numbers 26

Numbers 26 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence

As long and unexciting as this chapter may seem to be, it is a very pivotal one in the overall framework of the book, for it is showing the Lord’s unchanging purpose in leading His people into the Promised Land. After all the grumbling and complaining, and all the rebellion and challenges to authority, and all the dead bodies lying in the desert, the Lord would keep his promise to Abraham and to Moses and bring a great multitude of people called by God’s name to inherit the land.

This is the second official census counting all the fighting men of Israel who were able to enter into battle under the banner of the Lord. The entire first generation had now passed away except for Caleb, Joshua and Moses who would soon be leaving them as well. This time, instead of Aaron helping in the count, it would be his son Eleazar. And if you actually compare the numbers in the first census to the numbers in the second one, they are fairly close. In the first census, the overall count was 603,550 men, whereas in the second census it is 601,830. Thus, the Lord had not changed his mind on what His people could accomplish in terms of fighting. Israel never needed more men or even larger men, but simply men who fought by faith trusting in the promises of God. These almost exact numbers remind me of how the fish that swallowed Jonah returned him to the exact location that he started from with the Lord once again telling him to go to Nineveh. This time, with the new census, the Lord is reminding Israel of his command to go and take the land of Canaan.

Although the overall numbers are very similar, the counting of each tribe is a little different. All the tribes under the leadership of Judah increased in size, whereas all the tribes under Reuben’s leadership diminished due to his leading them into rebellion. Although Reuben was the firstborn, his tribe was continuing to fade, whereas Judah’s was gaining more and more glory. Of course, the main purpose of this counting was to determine troop strength and to encourage Israel to conquer their enemies by faith.

As for the counting of the Levites, it is interesting that the author points out how Korah’s children were still alive although Korah himself was punished for his pride and rebellion (See Num. 16). Unlike Dathan and Abiram’s children who were swallowed alive with their fathers when the ground opened up suddenly before them, Korah’s children were not burned alive with their father. And later on we will see many psalms that are penned by the sons of Korah. One of special note is Psalm 84 where in v.10 they say “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Unlike their father who refused to be a doorkeeper in God’s house wanting to be a priest instead, his progeny were greatly humbled by his discipline and sought the Lord with great fervor. And already there is a distinguishable difference between the first and second generations in terms of their faith. Certainly the second generation was far from perfect, but they did look to the Lord by faith and thereby inherited the promises of God.