Numbers 33-36
(Bottom Line)
February 20th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover the Israelites went forth in triumph, in view of all Egypt,

while the Egyptians buried those whom the LORD had struck down, every firstborn; on their gods, too, the LORD executed judgments

- Numbers 33:3-5 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

The final three chapters of Numbers provide a retrospective look back and a forward-looking vision described by Moses while the Israelites were poised on the banks of the Jordan, eyeing the Promised Land on the other side.

In chapter 33, Moses reviews the journey of the Israelites during the forty years after leaving Egypt. He makes notes of more than forty places where the tribes camped as they meandered through the Sinai desert and other lands. At the end of this chapter, the author notes that the Israelites were camped near the Jordan River, across from the town of Jericho. At this point, the LORD told the Israelites to allocate the land according to the size of each tribe and he warned them to clear out all the inhabitants and their false idols when they take possession of the land of Canaan. If they don’t, there will be problems because they will be influenced by those people.

    “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.”

    - Numbers 33:55-56 (NIV)

Chapter 34 records the LORD’s act of defining the boundaries of Canaan that Israel will receive. In chapter 35, the LORD defines towns for Levites and cities of refuge. Anyone who is accused of murder would be given a chance to receive a safe haven and fair trial to ensure that no one is falsely convicted. The LORD also tells them not to pollute or defile the land.

The final chapter is reserved for further definition of rules for inheritance by orphaned daughters. This is a continuation of the rules established in Numbers 27. The LORD is still looking out for all his people. In this case he made sure that daughters are taken care of while also protecting the assigned lands for each tribe.

Reflection and Application

Numbers began with an accounting of the people and seemed as if it might be a very dry book. However, it turned out to be full of drama. Oftentimes the drama was caused by a small group of people but affected a much larger constituency. Over 2,000,000 people wandered the desert for forty years because ten men were afraid to believe that God would enable them to conquer Canaan. Thousands of people died in one day because one man felt slighted and attempted a coup against God’s chosen leader. Two men made one mistake that cost them the completion of their journey, but when the Israelites understood that God was with them they had the confidence to clear out the Midianites.

The concept of innocent until proven guilty is an important foundation of the justice system in many countries. This concept recorded in this last group of chapters in Numbers pre-dates the establishment of this rule in the Roman Empire and subsequent European justice systems. God established specific places and a process to help ensure that citizens, foreigners, and visitors received a fair trial:

    God spoke to Moses: "Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you cross the River Jordan into the country of Canaan, designate your asylum-cities, towns to which a person who accidentally kills someone can flee for asylum. They will be places of refuge from the avenger so that the alleged murderer won't be killed until he can appear before the community in court. Provide six asylum-cities. Designate three of the towns to the east side of the Jordan, the other three in Canaan proper—asylum-cities for the People of Israel, for the foreigner, and for any occasional visitors or guests—six asylum-cities to run to for anyone who accidentally kills another.

    -Numbers 35: 9-15 (MSG)

The bottom line from the book of Numbers is the importance of obedience to God and to avoid longing for sinful pleasures of the past, or complaining or compromising morals. We came across a number of good role models to follow: Caleb, Joshua, Eleazar, Phineas, and the daughters of Zelophehad. They all demonstrated faith, patience, obedience, and loyalty to the LORD. These men and women stood out from the other people because they recognized the mighty power and justice of God who created the universe, could conquer any situation, and provides justice for his sons and daughters.

In the book of Numbers we have read alternating verses of instruction and history. What are the key phrases and words that you heard frequently? What do you think were the top two or three words mentioned? Take a look at the link below to see a word cloud illustrating the relative frequency of words in this book, courtesy of the 66Clouds website: Book of Numbers Word Cloud

We celebrate the end of Numbers with a YouTube versions of "I Sing the Mighty Power of God," a popular hymn written by Isaac Watts (July 17, 1674 – November 25, 1748). Watts was a preacher, poet, and composer who is often referred to as the "Father of English Hymns" because many of his 750 songs are still sung today, nearly four hundred years after his death. This particular one was first published in a hymn book for children - which was an unusual target market for those times, but demonstrated his understanding of Jesus' command to allow children to approach the Lord (1).

"I Sing The Mighty Power of God," unknown performer

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the longest journey you have ever had (in terms of duration)?
    2. What is the count of blessings that you have received in your life?
    3. What are the talents that God has allocated to you?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, please help us to count our blessings and acknowledge the talents that you have given us.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Innocent people accused of crimes they did not commit


    (1) Cain, David, "I Sing the Mighty Power of God – Isaac Watts," Song Scoops,

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Overview of Deuteronomy and Deuteronomy 1-2 (Review Session - Wandering Years)

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