This was an assignment on the book of Numbers and its message to the church today. Quoted are Richard S.Hess: "The Old Testament" and Arie C. Leder: "Waiting for the Land."
The abiding claim and truth of the Book of Numbers is that we have a God Who wants us to live and not die but in order to live we must obey His ways. Disobedience brings death. Also the lesson of Numbers is profoundly reassuring and applicable to children and adults alike: “small steps prepare us for the big decisions in life” (Hess p. 102).
Hess explains that with each small decision, we exercise our faith in God which, I would add, causes our faith to grow as a muscle, making us, as Hess continues, able to face increasingly greater decisions and, in my view, resist increasingly greater temptation such as God allows. When we fail, we too have the comfort of knowing that we can find God’s Grace, as seen repeatedly in the Numbers Narrative.
Leder points out that the problem is not Israel’s past or present, neither slavery nor wilderness difficulties, nor foes in the Promised Land. Instead, Leder plainly states: “Israel herself is the problem” (p. 146). This means that what happened to us is not the problem either! The problem is us! I find that truth truly liberating. Blame would be our slave master, instead we find it to be a lie.
I cannot change what happens in life but I can change how I respond. I can make God-ward decisions, God’s Grace enabling me. The message of Numbers is a strong warning against disobedience yes, but it is a warning for our sake, that we might live! It is also freedom for the church today in knowing there is only One we need to fear (Matt. 10:28) and He is One Who cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)