EVERY MAN BY NAME...The Lord said to Abraham in Genesis 15:5: “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them…so shall your offspring be.” Today, astronomers estimate there are ten thousand billion trillion stars. That’s a 1 followed by 25 zeros and lots of exclamation points. 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!!!
We soar even higher into the heavens as we read Psalm 147:4 “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” This teaches us something very important about the Almighty. He alone creates and decides how it will all come together. And absolutely no detail is overlooked. His creations are so precious that He calls them individually by name, even the stars.
Indeed, every single human on planet Earth is so important to Him that right at this very moment, He knows the exact number of hairs on their head! “And even the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid, you are worth more…” Matthew 10:30-31.
Yes, God is all about order and details. And love. And mercy. The evening of May 1 on our 2022 Gregorian calendar will begin the 1st day of God’s second month. This month is all about counting and numbers. A census of God's people was taken on the 1st day of the 2nd month. Noah’s Ark also completed its 40-day journey near the end of this month. We count forward 40 days from Christ’s resurrection in the first month to His ascension into heaven during the 2nd month. We also count forward 50 days from Jesus' resurrection to the date of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, in the 3rd month.
On the very first day of God's appointed 2nd month, God ordered Moses to begin a census of the Israelites in the desert. The Almighty is so detail oriented that He begins to record this very census in the 1st verse of the 1st chapter of the Old Testament book called “Numbers”.
“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.” Numbers 1:1-3.
There is a lot to be learned in these opening verses. A chosen group of people, named Israel by God Himself, was called into the presence of their Maker and recognized for their individual worth. The Almighty had specific plans in mind for them and an appointed destiny. And that destiny would include waging a fierce battle against their enemy.
We Christians can look back at this Exodus and literally see the face of Jesus Christ over and over again. We see Him as the very reason Israel was freed from Egypt in the first place. He is the Passover Lamb whose blood that was applied to the doorposts of their homes so that the death angel would “pass over” them. He is the sacrificial lamb that was eaten that evening to sustain them during their coming wilderness journey. He is the manna from heaven that sprang forth from the earth to nourish them during their entire 40-year journey. And He is the living water that flowed from the desert rock to quench their insatiable thirst. In fact, God's word tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 that we all partake of the same heavenly nourishment the Israelites did over 3500 years ago!
"I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel."
"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Thanks to God's powerful Word as it has traversed the history of mankind, we’re beginning to see where our weaknesses as Christians REALLY lie, and who the enemy REALLY is.
“Do not be idolaters… We should not test Christ… And do not grumble… These… are warnings for us… So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
The journey continues. And so do the struggles. The Exodus of the Old Testament is pointing us toward the final Exodus of the New Testament. And in between there are what? TEMPTATIONS? And no one is immune? And just when you’re tempted to be tempted, He provides a way out?!?
Sadly, because they resisted the Lord and fell victim to their temptations, very few of the men listed in the original census of the Israelites made it to the Promised Land. Numbers 14:30-34 recounts God's judgment for the rebellion of the Israelites.
"Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But you--your bodies will fall in this desert. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. For forty years--one year for each of the forty days you explored the land--you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.'
We close today's lesson with this final truth. One day there will be a final census to end all censuses. And if your name is not included in that census book…
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15
“Take a census…listing every man by name…one by one.”