The Book of Numbers

The Book of Numbers

Leslie Rainey

Key Word, “Service.” Key Verses, (1:2. 3; 10:33-34).

The title of the book immediately suggests the census of the people by count as well as by classification, first at Sinai (11 and then, in Moab (26). The title in Hebrews is (b’midbar) and means, “in the wilderness.” The Greek translation rendered it Numbers from the Latin “Numerii.” The book sets forth chiefly the responsibility of the redeemed to work, to walk, and to war. It is a story of wretched failure on man’s part, and of grace, ever abounding grace, on God’s part. In Genesis man is seen in a garden ruined by the Fall; in Exodus man is in a house, enjoying the four freedoms; in Leviticus man is seen in fellowship, and here in failure. In this latter book are seen the parental providential dealings of God with a disobedient people in the school of discipline.

Numbers is a divine classic concerning the Shepherd Care of Jehovah for His ancient people. What a beautiful and impressive sight! The order of the camp was four-square. (Universality), in the wilderness, with the Tabernacle of the Lord in the midst, all suggestive of the Christian Church in the world with Christ in the midst (Matt. 18:20; John 20:19). Jehovah is seen as Administrator, Protector, Counsellor and Leader. Here the nation is accounted in array and finally in advance. As a people they have been purified and provided with every need for the desert pilgrimage.

The book also tells us about the price of leadership as seen in the lives of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, the latter two being the dominant characters, the only two to enter the Promised Land. The chapter on the gainsaying of Korah teaches that rebellion is incomparable in setting forth the apostasy of man and the patience of God. In the wilderness march again and again is manifested the longsuffering of God with a murmuring, wandering, and unthankful people.


1. Preparation at Sinai (Chapters I to X)

(1) Organization of the Camp (i-iv)

(2) Purification of the People (v. - vi)

(3) Legislation for the Journey (vii - x)

2. Provocation at Kadesh (Chapters X to XVI)

(Ps. 95:10; Heb. 3:8)


(1) Leaning on man rather than God (x; 11-36)

(2) Complaining of God’s way (xi: 1-3)

(3) Lusting — (4) Murmuring (xi: 4-35)

(5) Criticizing of Aaron and Miriam (xii)

(6) Departing of Apostasy (xiii. xiv)

(7) Rebelling of Korah (xvi)

3. Faithfulness of God

(1) His Purpose continues (xv)

(2) His Priesthood abides (xvii)

(3) His Provision avails (xix)

(4) His Power is all sufficient (xx)

4. Progressions at Moab (Chapter (xxi - xxxvi)

(1) Continuance and Conquest (xxi)

(2) Conflict (xxii - xxv)

(3) Census (xxvii - xxx)

(4) Counsel (xxvii - xxx)

(5) Charge (xxxi - xxxvi)