Why to Read the Book of Numbers

Numbers 9:1-12 was my devotional reading the other day.

Notice all the underlining and notes I’ve scribbled in this part of my Bible??  Hmmm…

You probably have it memorized, but in case you don’t I’ll remind you.  It’s the one with the instructions about celebrating Passover and very specific instructions for the Israelites celebrating it if they were unclean.

It commands celebrating on the fourteenth day of the second month in the evening, as opposed to celebrating on the fourteenth day of the first month with the rest of the gang.

And you have to eat the lamb together with the unraised bread and bitter herbs, and don’t leave anything til morning and BTW, don’t break any bones, don’tcha know.

In case there’s any doubt, God finishes by reiterating “Follow ALL the procedures.” (like, “don’t you be skipping’ those bitter herbs now”)

This was the ensuing conversation I had with God…

ME: Aaaaaand I should care, why LORD??

It’s stupid reading the book of Numbers!  These instructions were for the Israelites celebrating the Passover before Jesus came!  This is like taking time to read the instructions on how thaw a roast when you’ve got a microwave.

GOD:  “ALL Scripture is inspired by ME and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that all MY people may be thoroughly equipped for all good work.”*

ME: Are you sure you meant ALL, Lord?  This wasn’t maybe a typo?

Could we just skip over this like I skipped over most of Moby Dick in high school?  Read the Cliff Notes that just hits the inspirational, encouraging highlights about love and grace and how YOU have things well in hand?

GOD: Sometimes the most spiritual things you can do are physical.  You guys tend to be pretty forgetful.  Sometimes I think you need a “string around your finger” so you don’t ever forget that you were once slaves to sin.  You’re not celebrating Passover, but what are you doing to remember my miracles in your life?*

ME: But why so picky on the details Lord?  I mean really??

GOD: Obedience is a pretty big deal to me.  I am God after all, not your marketing consultant.*

ME: But I don’t understaaaaannnd!!

GOD:  See what I mean?  You forgot already!  I’m God and that means you’re…not.  If you understood everything we could switch places.*

ME:  So….don’t smite me or anything, but what does this stupid passage mean for me today?

GOD:  Perhaps the practice of remembering and the gritty discipline of obedience in areas that are hard or confusing might be relevant and formative?*

ME: Thanks a bunch.

Lord, you know how some mornings are more fun with You than others?  I think maybe tomorrow I’m gonna stick to the Psalms.

What parts of the Bible do you like least?  Why?

* 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Chronicles 16:12; Isaiah 55:8,9; Deuteronomy 13:14; Romans 12:2

5 thoughts on “Why to Read the Book of Numbers

  1. Interesting that you mentioned Psalms, Laura. As I have been doing a Psalm series on my blog, I have been struck by how many Psalms I don’t like. I think of them all as verses like “As the deer pants for water…” but so many, so, so many are actually laments or cries for justice. My slow walk through them has forced me to not ignore those for the ones that are “prettier,” but instead to let the words transform me. It has definitely made me ponder how the modern church seems to move towards quick resolution in difficult times, when the Psalms show us a model of deep, & honest, & ugly lament to a loving & listening God.


  2. Pingback: Three Words from an Inconvenient God | Awake my Soul

  3. So glad I am not the only one questioning the relevance of Numbers. I am trying to rad the bible through, but having a tough time with Numbers and Leviticus was no picnic either!


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