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Notes & Outlines NUMBERS

"By Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network,http://www.ttb.org. "


(Called Arithmoi in the Septuagint, meaning “Arithmetic”)

WRITER: Moses (see outline of Genesis)

THEME: “PILGRIM’S PROGRESS” — walking, wander- ing, working, warring, witnessing, and worshiping. It is a hand- book for pilgrims. “Chart and compass come from Thee.” It is a road map for the wilderness of this world.

For whatever things were written in earlier times were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope. (kjv@Romans:15:4)

Now all these things happened unto them for examples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. (kjv@1Corinthians:10:11)

These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and con- fessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (kjv@Hebrews:11:13)

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pil- grims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. (kjv@1Peter:2:11)

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (kjv@John:17:14,15)

FORWARD MARCH: In the Book of Numbers, we see the children of Israel depart from Mt. Sinai and march to Kadesh-barnea. At Kadesh-barnea, the attitude of unbelief is crystallized into actual disobedience. The light is focused on faith, and they failed. “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (kjv@Hebrews:3:19). After Kadesh-barnea, they began to wander until that entire generation died in the wilderness (two notable exceptions were Joshua and Caleb). The years of wandering were a veritable saga of suffering, a trek of tragedy, and a story of straying.

Numbers gets its name from the two censuses recorded in chapters kjv@Numbers:1 and kjv@Numbers:26. C. H. Mackintosh called it “a divine history of the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness for about 38 years and 10 months, commencing with the first movement of the camp after the tabernacle was reared.”

KEY PASSAGE: kjv@Numbers:14:29-31
Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all who were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I swore to make you dwell therein, except Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, the son of Nun. But your little ones, whom ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
These verses outline the experiences of the children of Israel during the time of wandering until the new generation came to the east bank of the Jordan in the land of Moab.

It was 150 to 200 miles from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh-barnea — a journey in that time of 11 days (Deuteronomy 1:2). They spent 30 days at Kibroth. That means they spent 40 years on a jour- ney that should have taken 40 days. At Kadesh-barnea, walking was turned to wandering. They did not advance an inch after Kadesh-barnea; at the end of the wanderings they came back to the same place (kjv@Numbers:20:1).

That their number was decimated is seen by a comparison of the two censuses:
603,550 fighting men (kjv@Numbers:1:46) 601,730 fighting men (kjv@Numbers:26:51)
1,820 loss (They were told to “be fruitful and multiply.”)

The census in the first chapter furnishes a yardstick by which a total figure can be estimated. Dr. Melvin Grove Kyle gave to his students this approximation, which he considered a conser- vative figure.

600,000 fighting men (kjv@Numbers:1:46) 400,000 women 200,000 older men 800,000 children 100,000 mixed multitude 2,100,000 TOTAL (tribe of Levi not included) From Egypt to Mt. Sinai The first 10 chapters deal with the order of the camp. Israel was not a mob crossing the desert. Every man had to know who he was and where he belonged in the camp.

From Mt. Sinai Onward The tabernacle was the center of the camp, and the twelve tribes were arranged according to the situation of the tabernacle. They marched according to their position. The tribe of Levi was directly around the tabernacle according to their families.


12 Tribes of Israel
KOHATH (2750) Total — (8580)
The 40 years of wandering and the unbelief at Kadesh-barnea are not recorded in the “faith” chapter of Hebrews (chapter 11). The record of their unbelief is recorded in Hebrews kjv@3:7-19. This is the “doubting chapter.”

The years of wandering were not exactly wasted. God taught them many precious lessons during this period — among them:

1. The rebellion of Korahled to the confirmation of the priesthood of Aaron by the budding of the almond rod. This has become a pic- ture of the priesthood of Christ, which is based on His resurrection.

2. The offering of the red heiferin chapter kjv@Numbers:19 sets forth the method God uses to keep believers clean. Chapters kjv@Numbers:16 through 19 all have to do with the priesthood. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin. (kjv@1John:1:7)
3. The constant complaining of the people led to the judgment by serpents and the provision of the serpent of brass as the remedy. This teaches us that Christ was made sin for us. kjv@Numbers:22-25 gives us the account of Balaam, one of the bad men of the Bible, a rogue of revelation, a scoundrel of Scripture, a villain of the volume. He was a strange character. He was a heathen prophet with magical powers (kjv@Numbers:22:6). He is specifically labeled a soothsayer (kjv@Joshua:13:22). He received the rewards of “divination” (kjv@Numbers:22:7). He confessed that he used these methods (kjv@Numbers:23:23).

He gave four of the most remarkable prophecies in the Scriptures regarding Israel: 1st prophecy — kjv@Numbers:23:8-10 2nd prophecy — kjv@Numbers:23:20-24 3rd prophecy — kjv@Numbers:24:5-9 4th prophecy — kjv@Numbers:24:17-24 (This is a source from which the wise men could have known about the star.)

Balaam had some knowledge of God, and God used him (kjv@Numbers:22:9, kjv@Numbers:22:20, kjv@Numbers:22:22, kjv@Numbers:22:31). He is a strange anomaly. The Scriptures have a great deal to say about him — see kjv@Numbers:31:16; kjv@Deuteronomy:23:4-5; kjv@Joshua:13:22; kjv@Joshua:24:9-10; kjv@Nehemiah:13:2; kjv@Micah:6:5; kjv@2Peter:2:15; kjv@Jude:1:11; kjv@Revelation:2:14. Every preacher of any consequence has preached on Balaam. Here are a few observations from some of these men. Bishop Butler: “Self-deception — Balaam persuaded himself that his sin could be brought into rules of conscience and revelation.” Cardinal Newman: “The dark shadow cast over a noble course by standing always on the ladder of advancement and by the suspense of a worldly ambition never satisfied.” Charles Spurgeon: “Double-minded man — he could see the right, and yet his lower nature turned him from it.” B. H. Carroll: “He had but one real mind — greed and power. Religion — a stalking-horse.”

Scripture distinguishes between the way of Balaam, the error of Balaam, and the doctrine of Balaam: “The way of Balaam” (kjv@2Peter:2:15) was that he prostituted his gift for gain, he was covetous, he commercialized his office. “The error of Balaam” (kjv@Jude:1:11) was that he concluded a righteous God must curse Israel. He was unaware of the grace of God revealed in God’s redemption of Israel out of Egypt. “The doctrine of Balaam” (kjv@Revelation:2:14) was his counsel to Balak. Finding that he could not curse Israel, he showed Balak how to break down the wall of separation by marriage with women of Moab (kjv@Numbers:31:15-16). At chapter kjv@Numbers:26, the new generation has come of age. The gen- eration that came out of Egypt has died in the wilderness. Preparation is made for entering the promised land.

I. Fitting out the nation Israel for wilderness march,
Chapters kjv@Numbers:1-8 (Preparation for the pilgrimage)

A. Order of the camp, Chapters kjv@Numbers:1-4 “Let everything be done...in order.”
1. First census, Chapter kjv@Numbers:1 (603,550 of those able to go to war [kjv@Numbers::3]. Probably 2 1/2 million came out of Egypt.) An Israelite must be able to declare his pedigree, know who he is in order to serve and fight. A Christian must know his pedigree — “Now are we the children of God” (kjv@1John:3:2).
2. Standards and position of the 12 tribes on wilderness march, Chapter kjv@Numbers:2 They had to know where they belonged (see chart) and rally around their standard. Each had his God-appointed place and service.
3. Census, position, and service of Levites on wilderness march, Chapter kjv@Numbers:3 (Census of firstborn)
a. Aaron and Moses, kjv@Numbers:3:1-4
b. Tribe of Levi given to Aaron, kjv@Numbers:3:5-13 (cf. kjv@John:17:6, kjv@John:17:9)
c. Three families of Levi, kjv@Numbers:3:14-20
d. Gershon — in charge of curtains, coverings, and cords, kjv@Numbers:3:21-26
e. Kohath — in charge of articles of furniture, kjv@Numbers:3:27-32
f. Merari — in charge of boards, bars, pillars, sockets, and vessels, kjv@Numbers:3:33-37
g. Total of Levites (22,000), kjv@Numbers:3:38-39
h. Census of firstborn of all Israel (22,273), kjv@Numbers:3:40-51
4. Service of Levites about the tabernacle, Chapter kjv@Numbers:4 (census of Levites [ages 30-50] for service)

B. Cleansing the camp, Chapters kjv@Numbers:5-8 (Reason: “Our God is a consuming fire” (kjv@Hebrews:12:29))
1. Restitution and jealousy offering, Chapter kjv@Numbers:5
a. Defilement by disease and death, kjv@Numbers:5:1-4 For the Christian, lepers represent the flesh; the dead represent the world.
b. Restitution, kjv@Numbers:5:5-10 Repentance is more than saying, “I am sorry” (kjv@2Corinthians:7:10).
c. Jealousy offering, kjv@Numbers:5:11-31 “I am a jealous God.”
2. Vow of the Nazarite: the triune blessing, Chapter kjv@Numbers:6
a. Nazarite vow, kjv@Numbers:6:1-21 Voluntary and temporary
(1) Not to drink wine or strong drink, kjv@Numbers:6:3 His joy is to be in the Lord.
(2) Not to shave head, kjv@Numbers:6:5 He is to bear shame (kjv@1Corinthians:11:14).
(3) Not to touch dead body, kjv@Numbers:6:7 He is to forsake father and mother.
b. Triune blessing, kjv@Numbers:6:22-27
3. Gifts of the princes, Chapter kjv@Numbers:7 All give the same. The smallest gift is recorded.
4. Light of lampstand and laver for Levites, Chapter kjv@Numbers:8
a. Light of lampstand, kjv@Numbers:8:1-4 (Walking in the Light
b. Levites cleansed, kjv@Numbers:8:5-26 The Christian’s cleansing is by the Word.

II. Forward March!, Chapters kjv@Numbers:9-10

A. Passover and covering cloud, Chapter kjv@Numbers:9
1. Passover observed by all on wilderness march, kjv@Numbers:9:1-14
2. Pillar of cloud by day; pillar of fire by night, kjv@Numbers:9:15-23

B. Silver trumpets, Chapter kjv@Numbers:10:1-10 (Used for moving Israel on wilderness march and calling an assembly)

C. Forward March! Order of march, Chapter kjv@Numbers:10:11-32 (See chart.) D. Halt!, kjv@Numbers:10:33-36

III. From Sinai to Kadesh, Chapters kjv@Numbers:11-12

A. Complaining and murmuring of people displeasing to the Lord, Chapter kjv@Numbers:11 Complaining is initiated by the “mixed multitude” (kjv@Numbers:11:4-6). God provides quail because of dissatisfaction with manna (kjv@Numbers:11:31). When Moses complains, God permits the appointment of elders (kjv@Numbers:11:16).

B. Jealousy of Miriam and Aaron; judgment of Miriam, Chapter kjv@Numbers:12 (Rebellion in high places, an infection which delays the march)

IV. Failure at Kadesh, Chapters kjv@Numbers:13-14 (Place of decision; great breach of the covenant)

A. Spies chosen and sent into land of Canaan; return and report, Chapter kjv@Numbers:13
1. Cause for sending spies (cf. kjv@Deuteronomy:1:22), kjv@Numbers:13:1-3
2. Choice of spies, kjv@Numbers:13:4-16
3. Commission of spies, kjv@Numbers:13:17-20
4. Conduct of spies, kjv@Numbers:13:21-25 (Did a thorough job)
5. Confirmation of facts, kjv@Numbers:13:26-27
6. Misinterpretation of facts, kjv@Numbers:13:28-29; kjv@NUmbers:13:31-33 (Majority report: giants vs. grasshoppers)
7. Right interpretation of facts,kjv@Numbers:13:30 (Minority report: reliance upon God)

B. Israel refuses to enter because of unbelief, Chapter kjv@Numbers:14 “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” kjv@Hebrews:3:19).

V. Faltering, fumbling and fussing through the wilderness, Chapters kjv@Numbers:15-25 (Silent years — only 4 incidents recorded — no connected history: 1 log, kjv@Numbers:33:19-37; 2 did not circumcise children, kjv@Joshua:5:5-6; 3 did not offer sacrifices to God, kjv@Amos:5:25-26; 4 worshiped idols, kjv@Acts:7:42-43.)

A. Delay God’s blessing; do not destroy God’s purpose, Chapter kjv@Numbers:15 God goes forward; the people go backward. He gives rules for the land. God said they would enter — it was as good as done. Thirty-eight years later, Israel, in new generation, enters land. These are the children that the fathers thought might perish kjv@Numbers:14:31). (Death penalty for breaking sabbath, kjv@Numbers:15:32-36. Do all commandments carry death penalty?)

B. Incidents relating to the priesthood, Chapters kjv@Numbers:16-19
1. Gainsaying of Korah, Chapter kjv@Numbers:16 5th murmuring, kjv@Numbers:16:1-3 Rebellion against divinely constituted authority. Korah, a man of great authority, has his place in the camp; Moses has his. Rebellion must be dealt with. 6th murmuring,kjv@Numbers:16:41 Judgment is stayed by Moses.
2. Aaron’s rod that budded, Chapter kjv@Numbers:17 Office of Aaron is attested by resurrection (kjv@Numbers:17:8). Christ is priest after order of Melchizedec, established as priest after His resurrection from the dead.
3. Confirmation of priesthood, Chapter kjv@Numbers:18 (Charge and position of Aaron and Levites) Levites receive tithes and give tithes (kjv@Numbers:18:26).
4. Offering and ashes of red heifer, Chapter kjv@Numbers:19 (Purpose: cleansing the redeemed, cf. kjv@Galatians:6:1)
5. Deaths of Miriam and Aaron; water from the rock, Chapter kjv@Numbers:20
a. At Kadesh again (after 37 years),kjv@Numbers:20:1
b. 7th murmuring, kjv@Numbers:20:2-6
c. Water from rock; disobedience of Moses, kjv@Numbers:20:7-13
d. Edom refuses Israel passage through their land, kjv@Numbers:20:14-21
e. Death of Aaron, kjv@Numbers:20:22-29
6. First victory of Israel; first song; serpent of brass, Chapter kjv@Numbers:21
a. 8th murmuring,kjv@Numbers:21:5
b. Serpent of brass,kjv@Numbers:21:9 (cf. kjv@John:3:14)
c. Israel sings,kjv@Numbers:21:17
7. The prophet Balaam, Chapters kjv@Numbers:22-25
a. “The way of Balaam” — covetousness, (cf. kjv@2Peter:2:15-16), kjv@Numbers:22
b. “The error of Balaam” — ignorance of God’s righteousness (cf. kjv@Romans:8:31-34), kjv@Numbers:23
c. “The doctrine of Balaam” — fornication with Moabites; embrace their idolatry, kjv@Numbers:24, kjv@Numbers:25

VI. Future (new) generation prepares to enter land, Chapters kjv@Numbers:26-36

A. Census of new generation (kjv@Numbers::64), Chapter kjv@Numbers:26 Less than first census (cf. kjv@Numbers:1:46 with kjv@Numbers:26:51)

B. Woman’s place under law, Chapter kjv@Numbers:27 Daughters of Zelophehad claim possession of their father. Moses appeals to God for a decision. God grants their request.

C. The law of offerings, Chapters kjv@Numbers:28-29 The offerings illustrate the abiding preciousness of Christ, what God thinks of Christ. True worship is thinking God’s thoughts after Him.

D. Law of vows, Chapter kjv@Numbers:30 A vow is inviolate. A woman’s vow depends upon her father or husband. The vow of a widow or divorced woman must stand.

E. Judgment of Midian, Chapter kjv@Numbers:31 (Moses’ last act) Midian in the wilderness is a type of the world. The Christian is to be separated from the world (cf. kjv@Galatians:6:14; kjv@1John:2:15-17).

F. Reuben and Gad ask for land on wrong side of Jordan, Chapter kjv@Numbers:32 Jordan is a type of death and resurrection of Christ.

G. Log of the journeys, Chapter kjv@Numbers:33

H. Borders of promised land, Chapter kjv@Numbers:34

I. Cities of refuge given to Levites, Chapter kjv@Numbers:35 (To be used as refuge for manslayers)

J. Law of land regarding inheritance, Chapter kjv@Numbers:36 (Land to remain in tribe and family)

RECOMMENDED BOOKS: Epp, Theodore H. Moses. Lincoln, Nebraska: Back to the Bible Broadcast, 1975. Gaebelein, Arno C. Annotated Bible, vol. 1. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, n.d. Grant, F. W. Numerical Bible. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1891. Gray, James M. Synthetic Bible Studies. Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1906. Heslop, W. G. Nuggets from Numbers. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1958. Hvey, F. B., Jr. Numbers. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Publishing House, 1981. Jensen, Irving L. Numbers: Journey to God’s Rest-Land. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, n.d. Jensen, Irving L. Numbers & Deuteronomy — Self Study Guide. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, n.d. Kelly, William. Lectures Introductory to the Pentateuch. Oak Park, Illinois: Bible Truth Publishers, 1870. Mackintosh, C. H. (C.H.M.). Notes on the Pentateuch. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1880. (Excellent devotional study.) Meyer, F. B. Moses: The Servant of God. Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade, n.d. Noordtzij, A. Numbers. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Publishing House, 1983. Thomas, W. H. Griffith. Through the Pentateuch Chapter by Chapter. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1957. (Excellent summary.) Unger, Merrill F. Unger’s Bible Handbook. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966. Unger, Merrill F. Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 1. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1981.

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These notes, prepared by J. Vernon McGee, are for the purpose of giving assistance to the listeners of the THRU THE BIBLE RADIO program. They are to be used with the Bible and will be more meaningful as you look up all the Scripture references. Due to the necessary brevity of both notes and broadcasts, a list of recommended books is included for those wanting a more detailed study. These books may be obtained from a Christian library or bookstore or ordered from the publishers.


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