Numbers 33-34 The LORD gives his people an inheritance

From Numbers 33-34

04 Numbers What kinds of things would you like to inherit?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

I found a few things of interest. The first I suspect some readers will pass over without really noting.

[3] They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians, 4 while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them. On their gods also the LORD executed judgments. (Num 33.3-4)

That last statement about the LORD executing judgements on the foreign gods. As the LORD was sending the plagues we kinda assume the only battle going on was between God-Israel and Pharaoh-Egypt. Well no, behind the scenes, the people of the day also viewed the confrontation between their gods. In delivering Israel from Egypt, the LORD won.

50 And the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, 51 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places. (Num 33:50–52)

The existing residents worship foreign gods in the land. So when Israel invades the land and takes it over., they are to eradicate all opportunities for idolatry and apostasy.

53 And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. 54 You shall inherit the land by lot according to your clans. To a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance. Wherever the lot falls for anyone, that shall be his. According to the tribes of your fathers you shall inherit. (Num 33:53–54)

Simple enough. They are to divide up the land. But then there is a warning.

55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. 56 And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”  (Num 33:55–56)

Interesting imagery, ‘barbs in your eyes’, ‘thorns in your sides’. A bit like the parable of the sower (Mk 4). Barbs and thorns.

16 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “These are the names of the men who shall divide the land to you for inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun. 18 You shall take one chief from every tribe to divide the land for inheritance. (Num 34:16–18)

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
Note how they describe the land, as their ‘inheritance’. The passage looks back to their deliverance from Egypt and forward to their acquiring the promised land.

Story of Jesus

We should to be aware of Old Testament terms such as inheritance as we read the New Testament. Consider Ephesians 1;

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  (Eph 1:13–14)

Paul is using the same language. So does Peter;

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (1 Pet 1:3–4)

Both look backward to the story of Jesus and him proclaimed king ushering in his kingdom. And both look forward to the future acquiring of the inheritance. God has been amazingly generous to us through Christ and there is more still to come.

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