Numbers 33: Journey’s Greatest Hits

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:

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.


7 responses

  1. When Moses got water out of that stone, you might say the Israelites were stone in love.

    That whole generation that grew up in the desert definitely didn’t have the comforts of home – no way they were raised on radio.

    But after all that, getting to Israel…it must have looked like a city of the angels. Maybe that’s why, when Moses told them to go in, they were like “can do”.

    I could go on just the same way, but it might be too late. After all, when you’re alone it ain’t easy.

  2. God led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt but a very unhappy Pharaoh chased them for miles shouting “Get Back”! But their “help” came from the Lord and He opened the sea for them to cross, he didn’t provide a “yellow Submarine” for them – He made them walk but after a “hard day’s night” they arrived safely to the other side.

    After being in the desert for a while Moses went up the mount to meet with God, being no “paperback writer” it took Moses awhile to note the commandments and so while he was up there some of the people came to Aaron and said where is that “fool on the hill” he’s been gone so long! We long for “yesterday” when we were in Egypt with what we know – we need a god to worship make us one! Instead of telling them “all you need is love” Aaron agreed and built the calf.

    Then he said to the people “come together” tomorrow and we will sacrifice to the Lord

    God was not impressed and threatened to kill the people in His anger but Moses pleaded “we can work it out” and they did and the Israelites were spared

    After 40 years in the desert “the long and winding road” finally led to the promise land. For Moses though it was “hello, goodbye” as he could only see the land from the mountain, he could not enter in to it and then he died!!

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