Gospel City Discipleship Group
Bible Reading Journal 
Dec. 23, 2016
Numbers – Unexpectedly Deep
What a difficult book. This book brought up so many different feelings as I read it. First it’s like, filled with off the wall rules, like in Numbers 5 when the wife of a jealous husband who thinks she has committed adultery has to drink the dirty water to prove her innocence or guilt before the priest or the story of Balaam, a prophet whom God spoke through, but then allowed to be killed by Israel a few chapters later. Whaaat?
It also painted a picture of a God that I sort of didn’t like. It felt as though God just killed lots of people, His people. In Numbers 11 the people are complaining, so He kills a bunch of them, but directly afterward Moses complains and God listens, He doesn’t kill Moses. I was thinking through these perplexities out loud with Jennifer and she said something that really hit home and helped me to interpret and understand this picture of God better. She said “well, the wage of our sin is death.” That’s right. I want to read about the merciful God that I know, the one that showers grace upon His children out of love — but my God is just. My God is righteous. My God hates and punishes sin. Actually, I do deserve to die for my sins. There is no reason God shouldn’t send a plague or fire or snakes to kill me here and now — no reason except for Jesus. Wow. Who knew I’d be seeing the Gospel in Numbers?? I didn’t. I think this book paints a vivid image of a Christless people. Actually, God killed less people than deserved death. He only killed some of them. Why? To show that He is holy. To show the value of what Christ has done for me. Jesus took my place so that I would not bear that wrath, although I am the one who fully deserves it. My heart is black before His purity. Yet Christ has washed me white as snow. That is the first thing I saw as I read numbers.
The second thing I saw was how the appropriate timely intercession of the priests (Aaron, Phinehas, etc.) or Moses’ prayers of intercession turned away God’s wrath. Their intercession saved many lives, their prayers and offerings were seen and heard by God. And you know what? I am a stiff-necked complaining Israelite. I lament for the things I want, forgetting God’s goodness and presence with me, turning to idols even while He is in my midst! I could have been destroyed for my sin countless times, it’s what I deserve. Through Numbers I saw the deep value in having a High Priest, and I think I understood more deeply the meaning of Jesus as my High Priest, interceding for me always. Hebrews 4:14-16 says: “Since then we have a great high priest… Jesus, the Son of God… Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” So although I started out with feelings of frustration and even like, I didn’t want to be associated with this God who killed His people in so many ways, by the end I could see that this is the just cost for our sins, and God is still so merciful toward us. Jesus is my savior who cleanses me from my dirty sin, He is my High Priest, making atonement for me and interceding on my behalf. I could never have earned such favor, and I am humbled to receive such a gift. I am also surprised that God taught me these two deep concepts, bringing them deeper into my heart, through the unexpectedly impactful book of Numbers.