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The Blue Letter Bible

Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Outline for Numbers

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I. Fitting out the nation Israel for wilderness march, Chapters 1-8 (Preparation for the pilgrimage)

A. Order of the camp, Chapters 1-4

“Let everything be done…in order.”

1. First census, Chapter 1

  • 603,550 of those able to go to war (v. 3). Probably 2 1/2 million came out of Egypt.
  • An Israelite must be able to declare his pedigree, know who he is in order to serve and fight.
  • A Christian must know his pedigree — “Now are we the children of God” (1 John 3:2).

2. Standards and position of the 12 tribes on wilderness march, Chapter 2

They had to know where they belonged (see chart) and rally around their standard. Each had his God-appointed place and service.

3. Census, position, and service of Levites on wilderness march, Chapter 3 (Census of firstborn)

a. Aaron and Moses, vv. 1-4

b. Tribe of Levi given to Aaron, vv. 5-13 (cf. John 17:6, 9)

c. Three families of Levi, vv. 14-20

d. Gershon — in charge of curtains, coverings, and cords, vv. 21-26

e. Kohath — in charge of articles of furniture, vv. 27-32

f. Merari — in charge of boards, bars, pillars, sockets, and vessels, vv. 33-37

g. Total of Levites (22,000), vv. 38, 39

h. Census of firstborn of all Israel (22,273), vv. 40-51

4. Service of Levites about the tabernacle, Chapter 4

(census of Levites [ages 30-50] for service)

B. Cleansing the camp, Chapters 5-8

Reason: “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29)

1. Restitution and jealousy offering, Chapter 5

a. Defilement by disease and death, vv. 1-4

For the Christian, lepers represent the flesh; the dead represent the world.

b. Restitution, vv. 5-10

Repentance is more than saying, “I am sorry” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

c. Jealousy offering, vv. 11-31

“I am a jealous God.”

2. Vow of the Nazarite: the triune blessing, Chapter 6

a. Nazarite vow, vv. 1-21

Voluntary and temporary

(1) Not to drink wine or strong drink, v. 3

His joy is to be in the Lord.

(2) Not to shave head, v. 5

He is to bear shame (1 Corinthians 11:14).

(3) Not to touch dead body, v. 7

He is to forsake father and mother.

b. Triune blessing, vv. 22-27

3. Gifts of the princes, Chapter 7

All give the same. The smallest gift is recorded.

4. Light of lampstand and laver for Levites, Chapter 8

a. Light of lampstand, vv. 1-4

(Walking in the Light)

b. Levites cleansed, vv. 5-26

The Christian’s cleansing is by the Word.

II. Forward March!, Chapters 9, 10

A. Passover and covering cloud, Chapter 9

1. Passover observed by all on wilderness march, vv. 1-14

2. Pillar of cloud by day; pillar of fire by night, vv. 15-23

B. Silver trumpets, Chapter 10:1-10

(Used for moving Israel on wilderness march and calling an assembly)

C. Forward March! Order of march, Chapter 10:11-32

(See chart.)

D. Halt!, Num 10:33-36

III. From Sinai to Kadesh, Chapters 11, 12

A. Complaining and murmuring of people displeasing to the Lord, Chapter 11

  • Complaining is initiated by the “mixed multitude” (vv. 4-6).
  • God provides quail because of dissatisfaction with manna (v. 31).
  • When Moses complains, God permits the appointment of elders (v. 16).

B. Jealousy of Miriam and Aaron; judgment of Miriam, Chapter 12

(Rebellion in high places, an infection which delays the march)

IV. Failure at Kadesh, Chapters 13, 14

(Place of decision; great breach of the covenant)

A. Spies chosen and sent into land of Canaan; return and report, Chapter 13

1. Cause for sending spies (cf. Deuteronomy 1:22), vv. 1-3

2. Choice of spies, vv. 4-16

3. Commission of spies, vv. 17-20

4. Conduct of spies, vv. 21-25

(Did a thorough job)

5. Confirmation of facts, vv. 26, 27

6. Misinterpretation of facts, vv. 28, 29; 31-33

(Majority report: giants vs. grasshoppers)

7. Right interpretation of facts, v. 30

(Minority report: reliance upon God)

B. Israel refuses to enter because of unbelief, Chapter 14

“So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19).

V. Faltering, fumbling and fussing through the wilderness, Chapters 15-25

Silent years — only 4 incidents recorded — no connected history: (1) log, Numbers 33:19-37; (2) did not circumcise children, Joshua 5:5, 6; (3) did not offer sacrifices to God, Amos 5:25, 26; (4) worshiped idols, Acts 7:42, 43.

A. Delay God’s blessing; do not destroy God’s purpose, Chapter 15

  • God goes forward; the people go backward. He gives rules for the land. God said they would enter — it was as good as done. Thirty-eight years later, Israel, in new generation, enters land. These are the children that the fathers thought might perish (Numbers 14:31).
  • (Death penalty for breaking sabbath, vv. 32-36. Do all commandments carry death penalty?)

B. Incidents relating to the priesthood, Chapters 16-19

1. Gainsaying of Korah, Chapter 16

5th murmuring, vv. 1-3

Rebellion against divinely constituted authority. Korah, a man of great authority, has his place in the camp; Moses has his. Rebellion must be dealt with.

6th murmuring, v. 41

Judgment is stayed by Moses.

2. Aaron’s rod that budded, Chapter 17

  • Office of Aaron is attested by resurrection (v. 8).
  • Christ is priest after order of Melchizedec, established as priest after His resurrection from the dead.

3. Confirmation of priesthood, Chapter 18

(Charge and position of Aaron and Levites)

Levites receive tithes and give tithes (v. 26).

4. Offering and ashes of red heifer, Chapter 19

(Purpose: cleansing the redeemed, cf. Galatians 6:1)

5. Deaths of Miriam and Aaron; water from the rock, Chapter 20

a. At Kadesh again (after 37 years), v. 1

b. 7th murmuring, vv. 2-6

c. Water from rock; disobedience of Moses, vv. 7-13

d. Edom refuses Israel passage through their land, vv. 14-21

e. Death of Aaron, vv. 22-29

6. First victory of Israel; first song; serpent of brass, Chapter 21

a. 8th murmuring, v. 5

b. Serpent of brass, v. 9 (cf. John 3:14)

c. Israel sings, v. 17

7. The prophet Balaam, Chapters 2225

a. “The way of Balaam” — covetousness, (cf. 2 Peter 2:15, 16), Num 22

b. “The error of Balaam” — ignorance of God’s righteousness (cf. Romans 8:31-34), Num 23

c. “The doctrine of Balaam” — fornication with Moabites; embrace their idolatry, Num 24, 25

VI. Future (new) generation prepares to enter land, Chapters 26-36

A. Census of new generation (v. 64), Chapter 26

Less than first census (cf. Numbers 1:46 with Numbers 26:51)

B. Woman’s place under law, Chapter 27

Daughters of Zelophehad claim possession of their father.

Moses appeals to God for a decision. God grants their request.

C. The law of offerings, Chapters 28, 29

The offerings illustrate the abiding preciousness of Christ, what God thinks of Christ. True worship is thinking God’s thoughts after Him.

D. Law of vows, Chapter 30

A vow is inviolate. A woman’s vow depends upon her father or husband. The vow of a widow or divorced woman must stand.

E. Judgment of Midian, Chapter 31 (Moses’ last act)

Midian in the wilderness is a type of the world. The Christian is to be separated from the world (cf. Galatians 6:14; 1 John 2:15-17).

F. Reuben and Gad ask for land on wrong side of Jordan, Chapter 32

Jordan is a type of death and resurrection of Christ.

G. Log of the journeys, Chapter 33

H. Borders of promised land, Chapter 34

I. Cities of refuge given to Levites, Chapter 35

(To be used as refuge for manslayers)

J. Law of land regarding inheritance, Chapter 36

(Land to remain in tribe and family)

Notes for Numbers ← Prior Section
Notes for Deuteronomy Next Section →
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Notes for Deuteronomy Next Book →
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