LMOT-4 - Numbers: The Wanderings of God's People
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LIVING MESSAGES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
“Living Messages of the Old Testament: Lesson 4- Numbers”
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
“But if you do not do so, take note you have sinned against the Lord
and be sure your sins will find you out,” Numbers 32:23.
Welcome to our study of living messages of the Old Testament.
Today we're studying the book of numbers. As we look at these various
books, we really have a threefold purpose. First want to familiarize
ourselves with these books, note the key characters, and understand their
meaning. Secondly, we want to look at them with an eye toward the
practical. What does the book of Numbers say to us today? How does it
help me to be more faithful to God? What can I look at in Numbers that will
help me to overcome sin or struggles that I face? Then also in each of
these books, we want to look at them with an eye toward Christ. Can we
see Christ in the book of Numbers? What work is He doing here? What
type can we find that sake type of Christ to come?
As you think about the book of Numbers, the keyword is ‘sojourned’
or ‘wanderings.’ Remember in the book of Exodus chapter 14 and chapter
17 the people began to complain. They said to God, ‘Have you brought us
out of this wilderness to kill us?’ They had incessant murmuring and
complaining. God allowed them to spend 40 years wandering in the
wilderness of sin. This is that journey and that wandering.
The key verse will be Numbers 13:32-33. God is trying to get across
to His people to help them understand a problem they're dealing. “They
gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they spied out
saying ‘the land for which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its
inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.
There we saw the giants, and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight,
so we were in their sight.’” What does God want His people to see in the
book of Numbers? It's not about them. It is not about their size or about
their strength. It's about God. If they will trust God no matter how big the
enemy or no matter how great the trouble may be, God can deliver them.
God has shown that. God delivered them completely out of the Egyptian
army, through the 10 plagues, captured their army, and the Red Sea, and
crush them and yet they still haven't fully learned to trust God.
In fact the key phrase to the book which occurs 13 times, God says
‘because you believe me not.’ It wasn't that they believe there was a god; it
wasn't that they maybe didn't even understand that God could do those
things- but practically and daily they weren't living in view of that belief. I
don't have to doubt. I don't have to have a grasshopper complex. I can trust
God, and I believe that through Him I can do all things, Philippians 4:13.
As we think about the book of Numbers, the key thing which the book
of numbers expresses is that unbelief will keep one from entering the
Why are these people all from 20 years and up why they don't have
to wonder and their bodies waste away in the wilderness? Because their
and lack of trust in God was the sin. Their sin was they were going to
wander and die in that wilderness. Such a practical lesson for us is that
unbelief will also keep many of God's children out of that heavenly home.
We're not just talking about not believing in God, but living your life as
though you don't believe in Him. We may go to worship. We may say we
believe in God. We may even have a Bible in our home. Does our life prove
that we believe in God? When difficult times come do we know God's going
to take care of us? When we face issues or struggles, do we understand
God's going to be there? Do we really trust God and live for Him each and
every day? That's the powerful message numbers expresses to us.
The key application- beware of unbelief in your life and in mine.
Notice the words of Hebrews 3:12-13. The Hebrew writer says, “Beware
brethren lest there be any of you an evil heart of unbelief and departing
from the living God, but exhort one another daily while it is called today lest
any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Here's the application- don't let unbelief; don't let practical atheism
keep you from entering heaven. These people believe in God. They'd seen
His signs. They had seen His power. Had you asked the Israelite ‘Do you
believe in God?’ It would've been a resounding ‘Yes.’ But were they living
their life like there was a God? Absolutely not! Their murmuring and
complaining are not following the guidance He gives them. In a mental
sense, yes they believe in God. They acknowledge Him, but in everyday
life, no they aren’t living like there is a God. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says each
of us must ‘take heed lest we also fall.’ The application is powerful for
A division or an outline of the book of numbers: Chapters 1 through
10 are preparations for Canaan land that are made at Sinai. There are
some final preparations that must be made at Sinai. Then chapters 11
through 21 you have from Sinai to Moab the wanderings that they make.
Then chapters 22 through 36 we have from Moab all the way to the very
border of Canaan itself. There's a great distance that goes on during
Numbers and much of that is aimless wanderings because of the people’s
Now is Numbers a practical book, like many of the other books we've
seen? Absolutely! One of the most powerful lessons that we learn is the
vow of separation that is made in Numbers chapter 6: The Nazirite
separating themselves from certain things- not cutting their hair, not
drinking or eating wine or grape juice, things of that nature, not getting
defiled with something unclean, and not touching anything that they
shouldn't. The people who were going to choose that lifestyle had to make
a vow, a solemn oath, that they were going to live a special life of
separation from things of this world. They want to give themselves
absolutely in service to God.
How is the Nazirite vow practical for us today? We're not making
Nazirite vows- but have we not if we're children of God? Have we not
promised and made an oath that will be separated from this world? Have
we not said to God ‘I'm going to leave the things this world behind. I'm
going to put my past behind me, and I'm going to give myself fully to you.’
Look at the words of Romans 12:1-2. Notice that's exactly what we must
do. The Bible says, “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of
God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to
God which is your reasonable service and do not be conformed to this
world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove
what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Look at the
language used. Christians are a living sacrifice. Unlike the dead sacrifices
that gave their life in the book of Leviticus, we're a living sacrifice. Every
day I've got to be reminded, I've made a vow. I've made a promise to God.
I'm going to sacrifice my life for Him. If you're going to live for God, you
have got to say to yourself every day ‘this old world and old life is no longer
about me.’ Here's how Paul put it, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know
that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have
from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price; therefore
glorify God in your body and your spirit which are His.” Who I belong to? I'm
not mine. Paul said in Galatians 2:20 “I've been crucified with Christ. It's no
longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life which I now live in the
flesh I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave Himself for
Life is no longer about me. I've got to ‘seek first the kingdom of God,’
Matthew 6:33. I need the attitude of Paul in Philippians 1:21 ‘for to me to
live is Christ and to die that's only a gain.’ Remember we are a chosen
people- all Royal, priesthood. We are God's own peculiar people, Titus
2:11-13. Like the Nazirite we made a vow. Let's fulfill that vow and be
faithful to God.
Again the book of Numbers we see the peril of complaining. They did
learn the lesson in the book of Exodus. Numbers chapter 11 and chapter
14 the process starts again. They began to complain about the food and
began to complain about water. They began to complain about other things
and ultimately their questioning God's integrity.
Now that's again a practical lesson as well, because in the Lord's
church we have a lot of these people's kinfolks- a lot of complainers, a lot
of grumble, or people who can't be made happy in any way shape or form.
Friends we need to realize what Philippians 2:14 teaches us. We need to
‘do all things without murmuring and complaining.’ Listen, that doesn't say
some things. That doesn't say what comes easy or what you like. That says
‘do all things without murmuring and complaining so that we can blameless
as sons of God.’ If I'm going to be pure in God’s sight, complaining and
murmuring is not what God wants me to do.
Now another passage that stands out to us is the passage in
Numbers 13:32-33. You've got the 10 spies. Twelve spies have gone out
and ten come back with a bad report. ‘Sure the land you sent us into it’s
indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, but the people there are giants.
We look like grasshoppers in our own sight. Surely we do in theirs.’ The
problem the people had was that they had one might call a ‘grasshopper
complex.’ They thought everybody was bigger, stronger, and was going to
conquer them. They failed to factor in God. Sure without God's help without
God in our lives things, what seems small everything would begin to look
like a mountain. But friends we don't have to worry about those things, we
don’t have to have a grasshopper complex. We have God on our side.
Listen to the words of Philippians 4:13. The apostle Paul said, “I can do all
things through Christ who strengthens me.” How is it that we can overcome
the giants in our life? How is it that we can walk away and still be victorious
even when we live in a sinful world? He is how can we have the victory. ‘I
can do all things through Christ.’ 1 John 4:4-5 says “He who is in you is
greater than He who is in the world, thus our faith is our victory.” I can be
victorious because I have God on my side. Christ is with us, and He's
promised to help us. We can walk away victoriously if we put our trust in
our hope in God.
A great character in the book of Numbers is the great man Caleb.
Joshua and Caleb were the two spies who brought back a good report.
They said, ‘It is a land and they have giants, but we can defeat them. Let's
go in and conquer it.’ You've got to love Caleb. Caleb is a great man of
God. He in essence says ‘I'm ready to go. Give me my mountain. I'm ready
to overtake it.’ Become a Caleb. I want you notice verse 24. The Scripture
says ‘Caleb has a different spirit in him and has followed me fully. I will
bring into the land where he went and his descendants shall inherit it.’ Aged
in years Caleb says ‘I'm just as strong now as ever. With God's help will
do.’ God says ‘That's my man. That's the one I'm looking for. I'm going to
bless him, and I'm going to bless his descendants because he didn’t let the
mountain out shadow God. He didn’t let the giants keep them from seeing
that God would work with him.’
We've got to realize that God will help us. God will take care of us.
We've not been left alone. Hebrews 2:17-18 ‘He's able to come to the aid of
those who suffer because He himself has been tempted.’ Jesus has gone
through this life, and He knew the trials and struggles that we face,
Another important message that we see in the book of Numbers is
that Moses, that great servant of God, is not allowed to go into the Canaan
land. Numbers 20:12 God said “Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron
‘Because you did not believe me to hallow me in the eyes of the children of
Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have
given them.’” Why was Moses not allowed to go in? Moses wasn't
permitted to go in because God said ‘Moses I want you to speak to the
rock,’ and Moses got angry at the people's murmuring and got tired of their
complaining. He took it out on the rock. He struck it. God said ‘No you've
not hallowed me. You've not trusted me. You've not revered me in these
Friend sin will always keep men and women from reaching that
ultimate home, from reaching that Canaan land home, that heavenly home.
Jesus taught in Luke 13:3-5, unless we repent, we will all likewise perish.
Think about men who were hindered by sin in the Bible. Think about
David a great man of God. A man after God's own heart, and yet David
committed murder in essence. He had Bathsheba's husband murdered. He
committed adultery. He did heinous things. Think about Aiken. He lied and
stole that Babylonian garment, that bar of gold hidden under his tent. Think
about Saul. Saul had great potential, and yet he would not fully obey the
will of God. Judas allowed greed to get his heart. Sin, like with men of old,
will permit us from making it to heaven if we're not careful. Let's realize just
how serious God is about sin. God is angry with the wicked every day,
Psalm 7:11. God hates sin because what it does to his people and he does
not want us to live in sin.
I want you to notice from Numbers 23:19-20. I want us to see not only
God and His power and His miracles and the things He does want us to
see the complete and powerful nature of God's word- look at what is said in
Numbers 23:19. The Scripture says “God is not a man that He should lie
nor a Son of Man that he should repent. Has He said and will He not do?
Or has He spoken and will He not make good? Behold I have received a
command to bless. He has blessed. I cannot reverse that.” God is not a
man. He is not an ally. When God says something, you can be sure of it.
You can take it to the bank. That's the way it's going to be.
Now friends, God has spoken His word and we must realize this word
is full and complete in its nature. Revelation 22:18-19 God says, “Do not
add to do not take away lest I add to you the condemnations of this book,
less I take away from you the blessings that are in.” God's word has
everything God wanted to have. 1 Corinthians 4:6 we're not to go beyond
that which is written. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is
profitable for doctrine, for proof, and correction that the man of God may be
complete.” There's the idea. Psalm 119:160 says “The entirety of your word
is truth.” This book, just like the very voice of God, has everything we need.
It's complete. I love the words of 2 Peter 1:3. “God has given to us through
His divine knowledge all things pertaining to life and godliness.” We know
how to live the best life. Jesus said in John 10:10 “I came that you may
have life and that you may have it more abundantly.” You will know how to
be a godly person. It's right here. This book has everything you need to live
a perfect life, to live a godly life, and get to heaven. Let's realize the power
and nature of God's word.
Then notice this from Numbers. A highly practical lesson found in
Numbers 32:23. Sin is inescapable. You will never outrun, you'll never out
fly, and you cannot get away from your sins. No matter how deep you go,
you can't run from the sin problem. Number 32:23 says “But if you do not
do so then take note you have sinned against the Lord and be sure be sure
your sin will find you out.” Can you hide sin from God?
Remember the famous couple who tried to hide their sin from God?
In Acts chapter 5 Ananias and Sapphira. “Did you sell the land for such and
such?” ‘Oh yes we sold for that.’ They dropped dead on the spot. She
comes in little while later, “Did you sell the land for such?” She said, ‘You
bet we did.’ ‘There's those who carried your husband out and carry you out
too.’ She dropped dead on the spot. They tried to lie to God.
We cannot we lie to God. God knows and God sees all things. Sin is
inescapable. The all seeing, all knowing nature of God. Hebrews 4:12-14
teaches us that ‘all things are open and naked before the eyes of Him with
whom we must give an account.’ There's no creature hidden from His site.
God knows and sees all things. Proverbs 15:1, the eyes of the Lord are in
every place beholding the good and the evil. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes
12:13-14, “Let's hear the conclusion the whole matter.” What's life all
about? “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty
of man.” Why? “For God bring every work into judgment including every
secret thing whether good or evil.” God even knows the secret things the
things that you may have gotten away with. God knows! We need to be
sure that if there are things that we've done that are sinful, we desperately
need to make that right. It will come back to haunt you if you don't deal with
it. Jesus said ‘There is a place called hell. It is a place where the worm
does not die and the fire is not quenched,” Mark 9:44 and people who don't
repent of sin and think they're going to get away with it, that's where people
go. They go to that place. Deal with sin before it's everlastingly too late.
Now let's think just a little differently now for just a moment and shift
gears. Let's think about the third application and third idea we have in
looking at these books. That is to see Christ in the book of Numbers. Can
we see Christ in this wonderful book? You bet we can! Numbers 9:12 of the
Lamb that was we offered not one of its bones was to be broken. Is there
anything in the Scripture about Jesus bones not being broken? Look in
John 19:33-36. The Scripture says, “But when they came to Jesus and saw
that he was already dead, they did not break his legs but one of the
soldiers pierced his side with a speedier and immediately blood and water
came out. And he who is seen as testified his testimony is true and he
knows he's done a truth that you may believe. For these things were done
that the Scriptures should be fulfilled. Not one of his bones shall be
broken.” Jesus is that Passover lamb, 1 Corinthians 5:7, like the Lamb in
Numbers 9:12 not one of His bones was broken. Numbers 19:3 the
sacrifice was to be made outside the camp. Hebrews 13:12 Jesus was
sacrificed outside the camp. What about that rock that followed Him in
Numbers chapter 20? Remember 1 Corinthians 10:4 Jesus was that rock.
But then there's one specifically that I want us to think about. I want
you to think for just a moment about that bronze serpent. The medical
world today that bronze serpent set up in Numbers 21:6-10, you remember
they began to complain so God sent fiery serpents in among them. The
serpents begin to fight them, bite them, and people started to die. As they
always did, they cried out to God. God makes a way of escape. He tells
Moses ‘you build this bronze serpent this bronze snake and whoever gets
bit wherever they are if they find the serpent look at it they'll be saved.’ And
so there were steps they had to take. God made way of escape. Now what
in the world does this have to do with Christ? Did you know that the Golden
verse in the Bible John 3:16 which so many people miss use actually
comes from the bronze serpent? 2 John 3:14-17 together the Scripture
says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must
the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in Him should not perish
but have eternal life. For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten
Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting
life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but
that the world through Him might be saved.” What's the background? John
3:16 Prince a comes right out of Numbers 21 that bronze serpent- think
about what they had to do. There's someone in the camp of Israel that gets
bit by viper and they are going to die. They had to take things. They had to
do to be saved- that's the context of John 3:16. “God so loved the world He
gives all begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him,” not just believes
but is willing to do whatever God says. That's the personal. When we talk
about salvation, we talk about believing in Jesus. It's so much more than
just mouthing words or having some facts appear. It's a 100 percent
commitment. I'm going to do whatever Jesus says to be saved. John 2:5
‘whatever He tells you do.”
What does Jesus tell us to do to be saved? Jesus tells us we've got
to believe His word. The Scripture clearly teaches Jesus said, “Unless you
believe that I'm He, you will surely die in your sins.” If I don't believe in
Jesus as the Son of God, I can't be saved. Jesus tells us we've got to
repent. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Jesus tells us we
got to confess Him before men, Matthew 10:32-33. Jesus tells us to believe
in Him we must be immersed in water for the forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus said it so plainly. “He that believes and is baptized will be
Friend have you fully trusted in God? Do you believe in God in the
sense in which the Bible speaks of? Not just in appearance, but by
following Him and living for Jesus Christ each and every day?
The people in the book of numbers suffered because of unbelief. Are
you suffering because of unbelief? If so, won't you obey the gospel and
make it right before it's everlastingly too late?
Study Questions for:
“Living Messages of the Old Testament: Lesson 4”
1. What is the key phrase in Numbers?
2. What does Philippians 4:13 tell us about the things we go thru?
3. What should we beware of according to Hebrews 3:12-13?
4. Why were they aimlessly wandering in Numbers?
5. Should we be separated from the world according to Romans 12:1-2?
6. What does Philippians 2:14 teach us about complaining?
7. According to Numbers 20:12, why didn’t Moses get to go into the land?
8. What does Luke 13:3-5 say about dealing with sin?
9. What does revelation 22:18-19 warn us about?
10. What does Psalm 119:160 say about the word of God?