Don’t discount “Numbers”

I admit it.  There are some books of the Bible I enjoy reading and studying more than others.  Yes, I play favorites with God’s Word.

In a general sense, I enjoy the books that read like a story more than their “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” relatives.  That goes for both the Old and New Testaments.

The Book of Numbers is no exception.  To the uninitiated, the title seems foreboding – a warning that dusty census records, cumbersome rules and step-by-step job descriptions await – certainly that is true to some point.  But those who patiently wade into the text and persevere through 36 chapters will find memorable treasures and interesting tidbits that make it one of my favorites.

Here are some highlights:

  • Chapters 2&3 recount how God arranged the tribes of Israel when camping and traveling.  This was not some unorganized mob!
  • Chapter 5 includes the test for an adulterous wife.
  • In chapter 12, Miriam and Aaron conspire against their brother, Moses.
  • Chapters 13 & 14 include the well-known story of the 12 spies in the Promised Land and how Joshua and Caleb were the only ones who remained faithful.  This is also where God declares 40 years of wandering in the desert as punishment.
  • In 15:32-36 we learn just how serious God is about keeping the Sabbath.
  • Could the earth actually swallow people or fire consume them?  Check-out chapter 16.
  • Chapter 17: God doesn’t just chooses a leader.  He does it with style!
  • Why couldn’t Moses enter the Promised Land?  Find out in chapter 20.
  • Medical personnel and hospitals are often adorned with an image of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.  This is called a “caduceus,” introduced in chapter 21.
  • A talking donkey is featured in chapter 22.
  • Chapter 27: God appoints Joshua to succeed Moses.
  • God establishes the rules around vows and the circumstances under which they can be broken in chapter 30.
  • Chapter 32: Some of the Israelites settled on the east side of the Jordan River.
  • Have you ever tried to track progress on a long car trip using a map?  Chapter 33 traces each step of the Israelites’ 40 year journey to the Promised Land!
  • The Promised Land’s boundary lines are established in chapter 34.
  • Chapter 35 establishes cities of refuge where someone who kills another person accidentally can expect a fair trial and protection from revenge.

Make it a point to study this gem – the Book of Numbers!

The annual Easter crowd

Why are Christian churches routinely crowded on Easter Sunday?

Many grew-up attending only this service and maybe Christmas as well because that’s what their family always did.  All the other Sundays are for those “holy rollers” and “Bible thumpers” who are too naïve to place their belief in anything but a “higher power.”

Perhaps skeptics use the holiday as an opportunity to see for themselves whether Christians are really walking their talk, and critics scope-out the unthinkable notion that it isn’t all about rules – that people of faith can have some fun, too.  “Attending once, maybe twice, per year,” they reason, “is sufficient to accomplish these goals.”

Some may harbor a growing concern that the world has lost its way, and they’re in search of a source of real hope and comfort that will help them grapple with the realities of life.  They pick Easter Sunday because it’s easy to blend in with those standing shoulder to shoulder against the back wall so no one will discover their personal anguish.

Troubled souls who carry the weight of an embarrassing habit or guilt wrought from a checkered past could be seeking forgiveness.  “Maybe I could give this church thing a chance,” they conclude.  Desperate for relief from their pain, they slip quietly in and out of the back pews not wanting to be judged for their transgressions.

Still others are genuinely curious.  “Two thousand years ago, some guy named Jesus willingly died for my sins?” they marvel.  Shy and tentative at first, they attend as invited guests of a long-time member and reflect warmly on the welcoming smiles and joyful atmosphere that carried the day.  “That wasn’t what I thought it would be,” they mention to their spouse as the children ask if they can attend again next week.

Finally there are the real weirdos – those who attend every Sunday.  They arrive early to practice with the worship group or fill communion trays and stay afterwards to bask in fellowship or pray with a hurting friend.  These folks sing with arms raised and eyes closed even if their voice isn’t the greatest, and diligently jot down notes during the sermon even though they have heard the same account many times before.  “I can’t seem to get enough Jesus,” they joyfully admit.

Easter Sunday is a joyous celebration for Christian churches.  It is the official remembrance of God’s triumph over sin and death through the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  No matter the reason, all are welcome to join the festivities!  A place will be saved just for you.