Bible Verse: After the plague the Lord said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by families—all those twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army of Israel.” Numbers 26:1-2
Scripture Reading: Numbers 25–26
As great as a fresh start may sound, there’s really no such thing.
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but life just doesn’t work that way. We still carry with us the memories of what came before. We may find ourselves in a new situation, even on the other side of any outcomes of what happened before. But we remember. And that’s probably a good thing.
Most of Numbers, between the initial and grave rebellion in chapter 14 and the second census in 26, is the chronicle of Israel’s slide away from God.
Their time in the wilderness, wandering (as punishment) for 40 years, waiting for the last of the generation that was delivered from Egypt to die—this was not a time of reflection and lament for their going astray from God.
Instead, they seemed to have dived deeper into their rebellion. Mixing, physically and spiritually, with the pagan groups around them, wandering ever further from the Promised Land God intended for them.
When the 40 years finally comes to an end, and the last of the rebellious generation dies, we have what looks like a reset.
Numbers 26:2 reads like an echo of Numbers 1:2-3. It is another census, a counting of the men who were to enter the Promised Land. The names and numbers are staggering (compare the totals in Numbers 1 with the totals in Numbers 26), a testament to the faithfulness of God in preserving the people of Israel despite their unfaithfulness. God had saved for Himself a people.
The hope that this chapter embodies can lighten our souls and minds. Reading of the number of Israel that was preserved, despite the trials and failures of Israel in the 40 years that preceded this counting, reminds us that God does not give up on his people. He refuses to let go of them because his character is faithful. He is defined by loving-kindness.
Israel would remember both her own faithlessness and God’s faithfulness. They would carry the tension between these two into their new homes in the land flowing with milk and honey, a reminder of their God’s faithfulness and expectations, and their own proclivities.
Prayer: God, thank You for offering chances to start again. Thank You that You have promised not to remember our sins, even though we do. Thank You for Your faithfulness to stay with Your people and the promise never to leave. Help me to live faithfully for You.
Reflection: What memories do you carry around with you? Thank God today that He can and does separate us from our sins through the blood of Jesus.
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