June 10, 2019

When the Lord Speaks: Obey!

Numbers 1

11 Comments | Listen | Print

A Census of Israel's Warriors

The LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head. From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company. And there shall be with you a man from each tribe, each man being the head of the house of his fathers. And these are the names of the men who shall assist you. From Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur; from Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai; from Judah, Nahshon the son of Amminadab; from Issachar, Nethanel the son of Zuar; from Zebulun, Eliab the son of Helon; 10 from the sons of Joseph, from Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud, and from Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur; 11 from Benjamin, Abidan the son of Gideoni; 12 from Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai; 13 from Asher, Pagiel the son of Ochran; 14 from Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel; 15 from Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan.” 16 These were the ones chosen from the congregation, the chiefs of their ancestral tribes, the heads of the clans of Israel.

17 Moses and Aaron took these men who had been named, 18 and on the first day of the second month, they assembled the whole congregation together, who registered themselves by clans, by fathers' houses, according to the number of names from twenty years old and upward, head by head, 19 as the LORD commanded Moses. So he listed them in the wilderness of Sinai.

20 The people of Reuben, Israel's firstborn, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, head by head, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go to war: 21 those listed of the tribe of Reuben were 46,500.

22 Of the people of Simeon, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, those of them who were listed, according to the number of names, head by head, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go to war: 23 those listed of the tribe of Simeon were 59,300.

24 Of the people of Gad, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go to war: 25 those listed of the tribe of Gad were 45,650.

26 Of the people of Judah, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 27 those listed of the tribe of Judah were 74,600.

28 Of the people of Issachar, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 29 those listed of the tribe of Issachar were 54,400.

30 Of the people of Zebulun, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 31 those listed of the tribe of Zebulun were 57,400.

32 Of the people of Joseph, namely, of the people of Ephraim, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 33 those listed of the tribe of Ephraim were 40,500.

34 Of the people of Manasseh, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 35 those listed of the tribe of Manasseh were 32,200.

36 Of the people of Benjamin, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 37 those listed of the tribe of Benjamin were 35,400.

38 Of the people of Dan, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 39 those listed of the tribe of Dan were 62,700.

40 Of the people of Asher, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 41 those listed of the tribe of Asher were 41,500.

42 Of the people of Naphtali, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war: 43 those listed of the tribe of Naphtali were 53,400.

44 These are those who were listed, whom Moses and Aaron listed with the help of the chiefs of Israel, twelve men, each representing his fathers' house. 45 So all those listed of the people of Israel, by their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war in Israel—46 all those listed were 603,550.

Levites Exempted

47 But the Levites were not listed along with them by their ancestral tribe. 48 For the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 49 “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not list, and you shall not take a census of them among the people of Israel. 50 But appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its furnishings, and over all that belongs to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings, and they shall take care of it and shall camp around the tabernacle. 51 When the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down, and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up. And if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death. 52 The people of Israel shall pitch their tents by their companies, each man in his own camp and each man by his own standard. 53 But the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, so that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the people of Israel. And the Levites shall keep guard over the tabernacle of the testimony.” 54 Thus did the people of Israel; they did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses.

When the Lord Speaks: Obey!



Key Verse | Numbers 1:54

Thus did the people of Israel; they did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses.

Bio | Scott Jones

In keeping with the spirit of Numbers, my bio is 1-46-20+4-2-10-30-33-12-6:

  • 1 flesh with Patti for 46 years today. Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!
  • 20 years active duty in the United States Coast Guard, plus 4 years at the Academy.
  • 2 master's degrees—chemical engineering and accounting (I like numbers!).
  • 10 members in our immediate family: Patti, two children, two in-laws, four grandchildren, and me.
  • 30 members in our extended family.
  • 33 years walking with Jesus.
  • 12 years at Watermark—at Watermark Plano from the start.
  • 6 couples in our community group. Shout out to the McGehee Community Group.

Central Truth

The Lord desires us to have a heart that obeys Him, even when it does not make sense to us. 

Devotional | Numbers 1

Obedience is not easy. Numbers begins with the words, "The LORD spoke to Moses . . . ." (Numbers 1:1a) The Lord commanded Moses to take a census of Israel and gave specific instructions on how that...

Obedience is not easy. Numbers begins with the words, "The LORD spoke to Moses . . . ." (Numbers 1:1a) The Lord commanded Moses to take a census of Israel and gave specific instructions on how that was to be done. Numbers 1 presents a detailed account of the census, concluding with these words: "Thus did the people of Israel; they did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses." (Numbers 1:54) Moses obeyed God. I imagine that a census in the desert with exact details did not make perfect sense to him.

Like Moses, Jesus obeyed God. Jesus was fully man and fully divine. He had committed no crime, yet He surrendered Himself and went to the cross to pay for our sins. From a human perspective, this makes no sense. But Jesus obediently gave up His life for us, though we did not deserve this sacrifice. "[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

For years I tried to make my marriage work in my own strength. It did not work out well. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Proverbs 14:12) Then for the first time I looked at the words of Ephesians 5:25 and realized what it meant to love my wife as Christ loved the Church. No matter what. Unconditionally. At that time, this command made no sense at all. But I saw that the little things I was called to do to serve her daily fell far short of going to the cross. So I began to pray and seek God's wisdom, and as I began to obey God in faith, my marriage began to heal. Over the years, God has blessed my obedience. Not that marriage is always easy, for we still live in a fallen world. But Patti and I have found that if we want things to go well with us, it is best to obey God, even when it makes no sense to us.

See Comments

Discussion Questions

1. Have you taken the first step of obedience by accepting God's free gift of salvation? Jesus obediently gave His life on your behalf (and mine) so that you might be reconciled to God and experience eternal life with Him. See John 3:16 and John 5:24.

2. What is God calling you to do that makes no sense to you today? Honestly, do you think it will go well with you if you resist obeying God's commands?

3. What steps of obedience can you take today relying by faith on the character of God? It does not have to be a big step. God will honor faith as small as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20).

4. How is your flesh feeding your doubts about God's goodness and His direction for your life? What hurts, habits, and hangups do you need to turn over to the Lord?

5. How can you feed your soul so that you may better understand God's wisdom and His call to you? Here's a hint: Devote Daily. But wait—you are on The Journey, so you are already on the right track.

11 Comments available

Lauren McDonough 5 days ago

Thanks, Dad!! I am obviously a few days behind on this one, but I am so thankful that you and mom chose to OBEY the Lord! Our family is truly blessed by it!! Love you!!!

Jay Caruso 8 days ago

Thank you for your service thank you for your Devo lot of instruction This journey has been great for me because it keeps me calm want to try to stay in the word each and every day even though I am behind 4 days it’s frustrating but I enjoy reading this devotional it really helps me explain what I’ve read

Scott Jones 14 days ago

Thank you all for your enriching comments. So great to hear from those with whom I am privileged to serve.

Michael Scaman 15 days ago

The Levites were not counted in the warriors. They also will not get a territory but will get some cities spread through Israel.

Genesis 49 has Jacob saying to Levi “…I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel…” and the punishment for their part in the vengeance killing the men of a city regarding what happened to Levi’s sister Dinah perhaps eventually turned to a blessing with Levites spread through Israel as teacher/priest helpers

What started as something of a rebuke from Jacob about his son’s bad choices perhaps turning into a blessing. Another example of grace and mercy buried in an unexpected place

greg jones 15 days ago

Q4 reminded me of this.

Leviticus 13:46, Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-10, Luke 7:36-50, John 11:2, John 12:1-8.

Leviticus 13:46 sums up leprosy laws. Four gospel accounts seem describe one event of a woman anointing Jesus at dinner. Matthew and Mark tells of Jesus as eating in the home of a leper named Simon. Luke tells of Jesus eating in the home of a Pharisee named Simon. John tells of Mary Magdalene being the woman who anoints Jesus.

The cultural rules that were broken by the host and the guest of the dinner are not the focus of the story for some reason. The woman’s past history with rules is, and blinds the room from seeing how her current non conforming act is actually, her, obedience in gratitude of her inclusion. How ironic.

Rita Satagaj 15 days ago

Gm Scott and ty! Great points today. It is so incredible to think of the mass of warriors, 603,550! All of these ready to obey. I love the detail in all of it, including the care of the tabernacle. Just reminds me how God knows and cares for every detail in our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” We should obey God, it is always in our best interest.

Vicki Sandefur 15 days ago

Well done Brother Scott! It’s so good to see you here. I additionally love the follow-up question: “What is God calling you to do that makes no sense to you today?” I have grappled that question off and on over the past couple of years & added, “what do you want me to learn in this season?” When I’ve held my hands open and not tried to micro-manage God’s will, there is abundant life!

Michael Scaman 15 days ago

Some would say a major theme of the book of numbers is judgement and reaping blessings from obedience.

There is also the grace, patience and long-suffering of God unexpected places.

There is also mercies hidden which may come out later. There will be rebellion of Korah and yet (SPOILER ALERT) not all the sons of Koran died Numbers 26:11 and many show up centuries later as Psalm writing bouncers in the temple protecting the holiness of God - the sons of Korah (rather than challenging it as Korah did)

Sue Bohlin 15 days ago

Thanks, Scott, and Happy Anniversary to you and Patti! You guys make a great team.

When I read about the census exemption for the tribe of Levi, I did a search for “priests and Levites.” I learned the Levites had a lot of work to do in assisting the priests. They helped skin the sacrificial animals, played instruments for worship, carried out the tabernacle garbage, collected tithes and offerings, and even served as judges in disputes. They were the priestly class, more or less, even if they weren’t priests.

Now the story of the Good Samaritan makes even more sense when I read that the first two people who came upon the beaten-up traveller were first a priest and then a Levite, both of whom avoided him. Both of whom represented God to people.

jonathan goodale 15 days ago

Very nice Scott! Now I see the obey message within the mass of figures. I also see the command for the Levites to care for the tabernacle. I am pondering how to feed my soul to better know God.

Hugh Stephenson 15 days ago

Awesome Scott. Well done.

2 Timothy 3:16 - I like the JTJ keyword for Numbers; Wanderings. I’m taught the Hebrew title is bemidbar: “in the wilderness.”

It makes sense to me for the focus to be on obedience. A census is always done to prepare for what comes next. It’s an act of ordering and preparation. I have spent time in the wilderness in different parts of the US and Canada. It’s not usually a place you want to be disobedient.

“Numbers shows the importance of obedience by revealing the roots, process, and fruits of disobedience.” (Constable).

I love Nahshon (stormy sea-waves’), the leader of Judah. By Rabbinical tradition he was the first into the Red Sea as the Egyptians approached. What an example of obedience through faith! As ancestor of Jesus through Rahab I see her faith in his example.

I link to Jesus’s obedience noted in Luke 22:42.

View More Comments

Download The App

  • Jointhejourney app store
  • Jointhejourney play store