Numbers shows there is Rest Is Appointed For the People of God
Hebrews 4 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
What the Lord, through the apostle, is telling us in this incredible portion of the book of Hebrews is that those who have entered into the rest of God, those who have given their lives to Christ and are born again, they have ‘ENTERED INTO HIS REST’ and they have done so by faith.
In other words, the Christian now lives in a perpetual Sabbath, no more to work to enter in;
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
MY hope this morning is to remind you of this most profound truth as we consider the Book of Numbers, for these are our examples of those to whom it was first preached, who entered not in because of unbelief.
A summary of this sermon is that embedded in this title
numbers shows There Is A Rest Appointed For The People of God.
But if your desire was to get a summary of the book of Numbers, Hebrews Chapter three and the first eleven verses of chapter four provide a most vivid understanding of both the Natural historical account of Israel during the wilderness wanderings, as well a hindsight understanding of the consequence of their sin.
When in considering the underlying verse of this Church as Romans 15:4
“For whatsoever thing were written aforetime where written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope”
We can know with 20/20 Hindsight that which will be the outcome of the decisions we make from day to day. In looking at the Israelites in this passage, who believed not God, entered not into the rest he had appointed. Certain it is a wonderful thing to have the Bible so that which is written aforetime was written for our learning and our hope.
The Thompson Chain Reference Bible gives a synopsis on the book of Numbers and its own summary sentence on it simply says “Unbelief bars the entrance to abundant life”. There you have it, a seven-word sermon.
Hope that was a blessing to you and will see you next week!!!
Well lets take another look and see if we can drill home the message. The points to the message this morning are as follows;
The Numbering of the Redeemed
The Sin of The Numbered
The Numbering of Consequence
The Rest For the Faithful
The Numbering of the Redeemed
This early in the book of Numbers it is worth granting a short historical understanding that there may be further blessing for you when next you read through it.
Its title itself is curious as it is titled according to the simple English rendering, unlike Genesis (Origins), Exodus (Exit), Leviticus (Pertain to the Levites) or Deuteronomy (The Second reading of the Law), each of these stem from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, except for Numbers (Arithmoi). This is the only purely English title of the Torah.
Well, the Lord gathers together the people and numbers them all in their respective families in eleven somewhat repetitive stanzas. Each of the eleven tribes that were numbered were done so in this fashion, the tribe and the number being the only variable;
“….after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war….”
From Simeon in verse 22 to Naphtali in verse 42, this is how Israel was numbered the first time. Three are the points you will immediately notice;
- The clarity of every passage ensures you have an understanding that those that were numbered did not include children or youth.
…from twenty years old and upward…
- They were all male.
…all that were able to go forth to war…
- The Levites were not numbered among them. It would be the congregation of Israel who would go forth into the battles, the Levites had a peculiar charge of God, a responsibility for the souls of the nation and to intercede on their behalf to the father.
The total number of men of this age that came out of the Egypt were 603,550 men. This is the first numbering of the people, there is a second numbering of the people and that occurs when these men and their wives had died in the wilderness.
That numbering is found in chapter 26
“And it came to pass after the plague, that the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying, Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers’ house, all that are able to go to war in Israel.”
Total = 601,730 Found at the end of this second numbering.
Net loss = 1820 people
And I am sure that one day a diligent student of this Church will do a study and bring back to me the reason why that number is significant, for no doubt it is. Nevertheless; the first numbering we have is the Numbering of the redeemed that came out of Egypt through which God had fully anticipated he would lead them directly into the Promised land. The second numbering of the entire nation was when the parents fell in the wilderness, these where the number who would cross over Jordan.
Then there were their murmurings and discouragements and other chastisements of the people, and the jealousies to chapter 12.
In chapter 13 the Lord instructs Moses according to the will of the people, (see Deut 1:22) to send men, one ruler of each tribe, to search the land. Forty days they were gone, forty days they travelled through the land to return to Moses and the people. A journey in which they were plentifully sustained by the fruit of the land. Some of which they brought back to show and encourage the people.
But through this the Lord was also trying the hearts of the Men, both those who journeyed and those who tarried. Will they enter into the rest God had provided for them?
Consider for a moment that you don’t know the decision that they make in chapter 14. Consider now all that you have witnessed concerning not only Gods deliverance but also how he sustained them through a land that is not hospitable to life. It is a wilderness and God rained down bread from heaven for them, he did so each and every day, twice as much on a Friday.
When they thirsted he drew water from a rock so plentiful that nigh on two million people and their cattle where quench.
He had quail sent in chapter 11 that fell to the Earth, and upon the Earth they were piled two cubits high to a day’s journey on either side of the camp (11:31).
With all of this you are to add the Exodus miracles, having seen;
- The Ten plagues upon all people but your own.
- The death of the first born to all people and animals other than those who followed Gods instruction at Passover.
- The parting of the Sea ONLY For you to cross, and seeing it close on your enemies.
- God speaking directly to you all from heaven.
As a thinking person should you trust God to go as he commands (remember he is also leading you by fire at night and smoke by day), to enter into the land he had promised he would give? Would you believe and enter into that Rest God had provided? Or will you cast your vote with the majority opinion? To which will you labour?
You see, when we rest by faith in his words, we do not work….we just trust. I’ll explain more later in this study. But you will have, even in this day, a decision to either trust God or not.
What will they do?
What would you do?
Labor or rest?
The Sin of The Numbered
If you might spare me a few minutes as I read to you that which has occurred, the decision that was made, and perhaps an understanding of what the Sin of the Numbered was, and how this same manner of unbelief afflicts even our world today, even you are at the same risk if you will not learn from that which was written aforetime.
Now they had brought in some of the fruit of the land, Grapes and Pomegranates and Figs (v23) And they acknowledge that the land surely floweth with Milk and Honey, (v27)
But then comes the complaint, one that stemmed from ten of the twelve men, an error followed based on the opinion of the majority…
Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. 30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. 31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. 32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
14 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! 3 And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? 4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. 5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: 7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. 8 If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9 Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not. 10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.
The men who spied the land are the rulers of the people, and when a majority of them cast their Lot against the Lord, the people followed. They knew Gods will and were instructed by Moses who said
Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us. 21 Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
This salvation was preached to them, however Hebrews 4:2 tells us
but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
They did not enter into the rest God had appointed brethren, and it all had to do with believing God at his word.
Would they be outnumbered? Yes
Would they be surrounded by enemies? Yes
Where there walled cities and giants in the land? Yes
Did God not make a way through the SEA? ………yes.
BUT, no matter the attempt to encourage them in the word of the Lord, the voices against were more than those that were for.
NEVER FOLLOW THE CROWD!
God + ONE always outnumbers a multitude. If the word of God is true, no matter how many are the opinions against it, it will always be true. No matter how many are your own considerations against it, the word of God will always be true. No matter how many excuses we make for the decisions we take, God’s word will always be true.
There is no wrestling if you just take God at his word. When you do, you rest.
True, the excuses might be many, they were for these Israelites, but a few men did not see a problem because they listened to Gods words and decided to believe him. Fill your heart and mind with the word of the Lord, do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds (Romans 12:2)
God had appointed a REST unto his people, but they entered not in because of unbelief.
Those who will enter in later in Joshua believed, the circumstances where the same, the only difference is that the population of the nations would have grown not stayed stagnant as that of Israel!
Yet those who would enter did so by faith.
The Numbering of Consequence
26 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. 28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: 29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, 30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. 32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. 34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
There is a certain irony in the judgments God deals to those who have sinned against him and his promises. Each Day for a year their iniquity will be borne. Not only this, but when the people feared and cried out that their Children should be a pray (14:3), those same children who they said will be a pray to the wilderness to die there, those very children will be the ones who will enter the promised land that Floweth with Milk and Honey.
Tragic it is to consider such long lasting effects of one bad decision. I have often said that man is indeed free to choose to live as he thinks, but he is not free to choose the consequence of that life.
My mother past away with Cancer of the pancreas, a result of alcoholism. Its lasting effect is still felt upon the lives of myself and my sister and even my Children who no longer have their Nona to speak to, to show their achievements to, to watch them grow.
We have been praying for a dear brother, especially that relating to his Cancer. Certain it is that both our and his desire is that he might be healed of it, we pray for it and leave it in the Lords hands. But he is the first to say that it is a result of poor decisions made in the past.
He has been redeemed, his sin washed by the blood of the lamb, he is a NEW MAN in Christ. But the body still deals with the decisions made against it in history past. Effects last sometimes long into the future.
Today many are making long term decisions through short term sin.
TODAY, many are making long term decisions through short term sin
It took five chapters to deal with 39 years. From chapter 15 to chapter 19.
It took seven Chapters to deal with the last year, from chapter 20 to 26.
Very little history is dealt with in regard to the thirty nine years of wandering, save the sin of Korah and the 250 men who rebelled against Moses and Aaron and some other details. The rest of those chapters deal mostly with certain laws and ordinances for the people and the Levitical Priesthood.
The seven chapters dealing with the fortieth year however is filled with much history.
Does that mean nothing much happened during the thirty nine years of wandering in the dessert? At the very least we can say that there was nothing done in those thirty-nine years that had any lasting benefit. Remember it would be thirty nine years filled with whoredoms and iniquity (14:33-34)
Brethren, there is not a lot of history that I had before coming to the Lord that I could say was endearing concerning my wickedness. I am not referring to the good stuff, my family, my marriage, my first born child etc, I am taking about the stuff that occupied the majority of my life prior to my salvation and that is my sinful, prideful, selfish state before the Lord.
All of which I would be pleased to forget, none of which I want a history written about.
Proverbs 10:7 says;
The memory of the just is blessed: But the name of the wicked shall rot.
Eccles 8:10 says;
And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.
Psalm 9:5 says
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, Thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
Yet the greatest desire of the wicked is that they will be remembered. Cities are named after them, streets are named for them, buildings are named for them, small stars on a pavement are named for them, they desire to be remembered but most will be forgotten.
Conversely, the greatest desire of the righteous is that Jesus would be known, that he would increase but they would decrease.
My 29 years in sin is not worth remembering, the 39 years of wandering in the wilderness by a generation who would not enter into the ‘Rest’ God had appointed is not worth recording. The walk of the cild of God is worth recording, its value is eternal as is these seven chapters describing the preparation of the remnant to cross Jordan.
The Rest For the Faithful
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
The nation of Israel did not gain in number during those 40 years, but the surrounding nations did. YET, Gods promise that he made to Abram, before he had a single child, stands true in Israel, even through THEIR unbelief? Why? Because it is not based on mans will but Gods.
If you are born again the Lord will preserved you and bring you home to Glory REGARDLESS of how you feel about your salvation. If you are born again, You are justified in Christ, even when you don’t FEEL just. If you are born again, You are washed by the blood of the lamb even when you feel dirty.
We are clothed with His righteousness not our own.
He has attained heaven for us, not we ourselves.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Brethren you have entered into that Rest God had appointed if you are born again
Heb 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein
The only work that you are to do now is to labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (v11)
And this is the labour, a labour to remember who it is that we are to trust and who’s counsel we are to reject, mine and the devils can often be in unison, the Lords counsel is above mine.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts.
If this is true, then our own opinions are subject to his counsel.
The labour then that we undertake is the same labour we have spoken of since we began here. Read the word of God every day. Pray with the Lord, spend time with him, time, time. Love for Children is often said to be spelt T.I.M.E. the same can be said with regard to the Lord.
If there is any time we should be spending it is with him. We waste so much time every day doing things that do not need to be doing, to use time as a reason NOT to be with the Lord is a fable we have come to believe.
But what a beautiful way to rest, when we spend our TIME resting in him.
Thirty nine years of sin was lost to history, one year of God preparing those who will enter into the promise land we have recorded in Numbers. This 40th year is recorded, it is recorded in the Bible and is therefore a light that will shine for ever for our benefit.
Much occurred in that year, and it was recorded for our learning, that we might know that God needs to work in us, to prepare us, to humble us before he will take us over the Jordon. This is a River the Lord stops, that we may walk in his rest.
We read earlier that the names of the wicked shall rot, they will be Forgotten, their names put out for ever and ever. But to those in Christ it is not so. Those who’s only labour is to enter into Gods rest, rest in him and shine as lights for ever. Turn to;
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
But the path of the just is as the shining light, That shineth more and more unto the perfect day
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
What a context; the Psalmist just finishes speaking of Christ and now speaks of himself as the redeemed in Christ.
There are those who believe and those who do not.
Unbelief bars the entrance to abundant life
Believe and trust and rest.