Numbers 33 is a chronicle of the Israelite’s 40-year journey from Egypt to Canaan. There is a little bit at the beginning and a little bit at the end that aren’t this but the rest of the chapter can easily make you want to gouge your eyes out and then gouge out someone else’s eyes and replace your eyes in theirs because they aren’t looking at Numbers 33 like you are.
Woah, I need to chill out.
So there are two things you need to do with chapters like this:
- Find the parts of the list that are different
- Have fun with it.
I’ll do the fun part first. It will be like eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream before eating a steak dinner!
Numbers 33: A Paraphrase
Well, it’s been a long journey. So long that the entire generation that left Egypt has passed on and only the young are left.
Through it all, Moses faithfully led them in the wilderness. The wheel in the sky kept turning and sometimes the people didn’t know where they’d be tomorrow. But Moses would tell them over and over, “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Sometimes they’d listen to him and sometimes they wouldn’t.
Like that time the people came to Aaron and demanded that he make them a God. Any way they wanted it, that’s the way they needed it and Aaron was too afraid to tell them “no.” In fact, he embraced their ideas with open arms and made a golden calf.
God was not pleased.
He felt like his people were lovin’, touchin’, and squeezin’ another. Naaaa na na naaaaaa na na. Whoops.
Or that time when the tribes of Reuben and Gad wanted to go their separate ways and stay on the east side of the Jordan river.
And I’ve basically run out of Journey songs that people know.
What Got Cut
In the list of places the Israelites traveled, occasionally there is a mention of an important event that happened. Here are the ones that made the cut:
- The crossing of the Red Sea
- The bitter springs of Marah
- The twelve springs at Elim
- The first time the Moses brought water from a rock.
- The death of Aaron
It’s not that I’m surprised that these are mentioned; I’m surprised at what isn’t.
What about the time when God made them his people in an elaborate, multi-chaptered ceremony?
What about the Tabernacle?
What about the golden calf?
What about the entire book of Leviticus?
What about all the stuff that happened in Numbers?
I feel like this chapter is like making a Rolling Stones greatest hits album and leaving off “Satisfaction” and “Paint It Black.”
A Bit on The Final Section
God tells Moses that when the people enter the land, they must completely drive out the current inhabitants. If they don’t, those people will become “barbs in their eyes” and “thorns in your sides.”
Given their previous interaction with Midian, I’m thinking God has a point. His people don’t do very well when they cohabitate with another people group with different gods.
Tell a story from Israel’s journey using song titles. I dare you.