In our study of the book of Numbers, we will look at how the Israelites survived in the wilderness and apply it to our lives as Christians. The book is named this because of the fact that there are two censuses taken of the Israelites but there is much more to the book. The Hebrew title is Bemidar which means "In the desert" and it is a more fitting title. We shall see how this gives us a roadmap for surviving the wilderness which is this world.
"The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 'Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army.'" NIV translation
The Israelites were about to set off on an eleven day journey to the promised land of Canaan. When they got there, they would be required to trust in the Lord and to drive out the people that were there. As a first step, God told Moses to count the men that could serve in the army. All military campaigns begin with an assessment of troop strength and this was the purpose of the census.
We must remember that God knew their strength but the leaders did not. We also see that they were to write down the name of each soldier individually. This is a reminder that God knows each and every one of us personally. God also gave them a minimum age of twenty years which reminds us that God bases some things on our physical age.
At about the age of thirteen, a boy was considered to be a man but we see that they are not immediately ready to join the army and fight. That is a reminder to us that there is a certain period of time after we come to faith in Jesus that we are to put down roots in the faith and mature. After we have this time to grow in the faith, we are prepared to survive this wilderness fight.