Keep Your Eyes On Him And You Will Live

Reading Christ in the Book of Numbers

Keep Your Eyes On Him And You Will Live - Emmanuel Naweji

The book of Numbers is very fascinating.

Just like a lot of other books in the Bible, it is a big book with lots of information. The book of Numbers is believed to have been written by Moses who’s the guy who, with God’s help, liberated the people of Israel from Egypt. 

This reflection on the book of Numbers is the fourth in the series of messages I’ve been giving at the United Methodist Church of Harris and Lake Park, Iowa.

The series is Reading Christ in the Torah. So far, we have talked about:

You can also catch up with what we’ve looked at through our Church’s Facebook page

Here’s how I would summarize the Book of Numbers

Keep Your Eyes On Him And You Will Live - Emmanuel Naweji

The book begins and ends with a census

This first part covers chapters 1 through 9 and 34 through 35. 

  • This section of the entire book begins and ends with a census.
  • Moses dedicates the Levites to be worship leaders. He also instructs vows for the Nazirites. These are people who completely devote their entire lives to the service of God. A contemporary example would be that of Roman Catholic priests or nuns. They had vows to make, and which they had to observe throughout life. 
  • What Moses did was to organize people depending on their spiritual and natural gifting. Some were enrolled into the army and others were listed for priesthood. 
  • Also, there is mention of the second Passover. This is done a year after Israel has left Egypt following their first Passover.

Lack of appreciation

  • The second section of the Book of Numbers is in chapters 10 through 12.
  • People complain about what they are eating. It wasn’t easy with a very short menu in terms of food: manna and quail. But, after witnessing at what God has done for them, a little bit of gratitude would have helped them. They didn’t, however, show that. 
  • Because of their desire of wanting more (greed), God will send them a plague.
  • There was also lack of appreciation of having Moses as the primary leader. Miriam and Aaron have became jealous of their brother as the only one God was speaking to. As a result, God would punish Miriam for not honoring God’s choice of having Moses as the primary leader. She would be leprous for some time.

Disobedience and unfaithfulness to God, and its consequences

Chapters 13-19 cover the next session of the Book of Numbers. 

  • Moses sends 12 spies to explore what was to be the promised land.
  • They came back with a report that would create fear in the people.
  • God punishes Israel for lack of faith and obedience by making wander in the wilderness for the next forty years.

Death of Aaron, new leadership and death of Moses

The last section of the Book numbers is in chapters 20 through 36. 

  • Aaron dies. Already, there is already a new generation of priests.
  • Balak wants to seduce the Israelites to worship Baal (an idol).
  • As a result of this disobedience, over 20,000 people would die.
  • In order to survive and live, one had to keep their eyes fixed on a bronze serpent. This is the scripture we’ve read today.

Where do we read Christ in the Book of Numbers?

We read Christ primarily in chapter 21. In this chapter, the people of Israel disobey God. According to verse 5, they speak against God and against Moses saying:

Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.

In verses 6 through 9, God responds by sending poisonous serpents where the people were. A poisonous biting from these snakes was fatal. So lots of people bitten by these snakes ended up dying. 

Then, the people would come to Moses asking him to pray to God to take away these poisonous serpents from them.

Moses prays to God Who tells him to make a poisonous serpent and put it on a pole. Everyone who looks at this serpent will live.

Who does this remind us of?

It reminds us of Jesus Christ. He, Himself talks about it in John 3: 14-15,

as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

What’s the message the Book of Numbers has for us?

Keep Your Eyes On Him And You'll Live - Emmanuel Naweji

Numbers matter

  • Numbers or facts are the reality of where we are. Even though they are not always the truth about us, they can still help us find out more about who we are. 
  • Numbers are all about people. 
  • God’s language uses plural in terms of Who God is and what God does for God’s people.
  • God talks about nations, generations, descendants and offspring, etc.
  • God adds more to our numbers. That’s His goal, which is to have many more join the body of Christ, the Church. 

Honor people God has put in leadership

  • Show support to the people in leadership whether at your Church or community.
  • Encourage the leaders you know of in your Church or community.
  • Empower.
  • Hold them accountable.

A picture of God’s Preferred future

  • Your future is God’sGod promised the land (Canaan) to Abraham. It’s God’s plan. The Israelites only inherited what God had already promised to Abraham, the father of their nation. (Genesis 15)
  • Partner with God
  • Trust that what God promises, God will fulfill itThe promise came with the covenant God made with Abraham as a result of Abraham’s faith in God. Abraham chose to partner with God. This is a relationship that is grounded in trust and love.
  • Obey God. Do, live and walk according to God’s covenant God has made with you. Obedience is better than a sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15: 22 states that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” 

Invest for a New generation 

  • Keep your eyes on the cross.
  • Be a Holy Spirit-led generation. Your eyes should be in what God’s about to do. 
  • Be a future-focused generationBe aware of the present, but your eyes should be on the cross.Will doing this eliminate the pain? No. But, you will live, no matter what pain you’re going through right now.
  • Invest in the next generation of leaders.

Bringing it together

The book of Numbers reminds us of Christ, as the one to be lifted up on a pole.

He, Himself talks about it in John 3: 14-15,

as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Eternal Life means the following two things:

  • New life, which begins today and moves us into a future.
  • A sense of God’s preferred future for us.

Listen to the audio message below!

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