First United Methodist Church of Conway, South Carolina
Saturday, October 21, 2017

Week 7

Annotated Reading Guide
February 8-14 – Numbers 1-25
Feb 8:  Numbers 1-2   Census and Tribal Arrangement of the Camp
     Chapter 1 – Fourteen months after the exodus from Egypt, God commands Moses to take a census of the twelve tribes of Israel, counting only males who are 20 years of age or older and able to go to war.  The count from twelve tribes is 603,550.  The Levites are not included in this census since they are to be dedicated to the service of God.
     Chapter 2 – The layout of the encampment is described. The outer grouping includes the twelve tribes of Israel (actually ten tribes Jacob’s sons and the two half tribes of Joseph’s sons – the Levites are not included in counting the twelve tribes).  The priestly tribe of Levi forms a second, inner grouping. The Tabernacle is in the center of the camp. In the placement of the tribes a pecking order is established which sets the stage for later jealousy and issues related to power.
Feb 9:  Numbers 3-4   Levite Censuses and Responsibilities
     Chapter 3 –The Levites will serve as assistants to the high priest and as substitutes for all firstborn Israelite males who are dedicated to God.  A census of every male Levite over one month old is taken – the total is 22,000. Then a similar count is taken of the other tribes of Israel (22, 273).  The additional 273 are redeemed through a payment to the priests of five shekels per firstborn male.
     Chapter 4 – Specific instructions for each Levitical clan are given.  A second census of Levites (30–50 years old) is taken to determine how many are available for priestly service.  
Feb 10: Numbers 5-8  Proper Behavior, Nazirites, Tabernacle Beginnings
     Chapter 5 – . Three different cases involving impurity and guilt are described.
     Chapter 6 – Nazirites are people who take on special vows of service to God for a specified period of time. The familiar (UMYF) benediction concludes the chapter.
     Chapter 7 and 8 – Chapter 7–10 is a flashback to one month before the book of Numbers begins. Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and offerings and sacrifices commence. The dedication and ritual purification of the Levites follows.
Feb 11: Numbers 9-13   Celebrating the Passover, Setting Out, and Complaining, Jealousy and Dissent
     Chapter 9 and 10 – Celebrating Passover and continuing toward the Promised Land.
     Chapter 11, 12 and 13 – As the Israelites move toward the Promised Land, they fall back into blaming and complaining.  This attitude will be a recurring theme throughout their forty years in the wilderness.
Feb 12: Numbers 14-16   More Complaining, with a Hopeful Interlude
     Chapter 14 and 16 – Complaining and jealously continues and increases as the spies return with an unfavorable majority report and priestly clans rebel.
     Chapter 15 – This interruption in the dissatisfaction serves as a reminder that the day will finally come when God’s plan for the people will be accepted.
Feb 13: Numbers 17-20   Aaron’s Rod, Priestly Duties, More Trouble
     Chapter 17 –Aaron’s rod sprouts, blooms and bears fruit as a sign of God’s support for Moses and Aaron.
     Chapter 18 – Instructions to Moses and Aaron about the duties and support of the priests and Levites.
     Chapter 19 – The ashes of the red heifer are mixed with the water for purification anyone who becomes impure through contact with a corpse.
     Chapter 20 – Failing to specifically follow God’s instructions, Moses and Aaron are told they will be denied entry into the Promised Land.  They are instructed to speak to the rock, but they strike the rock. In the first chapter of Genesis we were told that God creates through the word.
Feb 14: Numbers 21-25   More Trouble, Balaam and the Talking Donkey, Still More Trouble
     Chapter 21 – A successful military victory brings further rebellion as the Israelites complaints bring a plague of poisonous snakes upon them.  Jesus refers to this story in John 3:14-15.
     Chapter 22-24 – An amusing story about a prophet-for-hire who is used by God to turn curses into blessings for the Israelites.
     Chapter 25 – Two final rebellions bring this section of Numbers to a close. When the story continues the focus will be on the younger generation and their entry into the Promised Land.