From: Nalani Cushing
In today’s Numbers reading, a census of the Israelites is taken in order to know exactly how many individuals there are who are able to go to war, and also to determine the division of their coming inheritance. This census comes after yet another plague, and another instance of the Israelites being unfaithful to God. To the unfaithful, doubting, punished Israelites, who have been wandering in the wilderness for years, the promise of an inheritance might seem far-fetched, out of their reach, and out of God’s reach. And haven’t they strayed too far from God to merit any gift from him? However, the fact that God commands a census and tells how to divide the future inheritance speaks to those doubts—although the Israelites have strayed, have been punished, have been unfaithful, and in fact don’t merit God’s gift at all, that has not taken away God’s decision to make them his people, and to give them an inheritance, and to be their God in a land he has promised them. There will be a war, but there will be a victory, because the inheritance will be divided among the Israelites.
This passage reminds me of God’s mercy and faithfulness in a time where our world seems so incredibly far from God’s promised new creation. We daily see and experience so much injustice, corruption, isolation, and fear. Our world, and even our own hearts, are evidence of the brokenness. Personally, in my own heart and mind, when I have struggled with feelings of loneliness, the reality of God’s presence and love and victory seems absent and out of reach. My trust turns away from God, and I readily place it in so many other places. I know that if God’s promises depended on my own and our own goodness, we would have long ago lost hope. But that is not the case. As God’s church, let us be reminded of God’s faithfulness, despite our unfaithfulness, and let us be called back towards trust and obedience.
I live in Beverly and teach middle school science, which keeps me humbled and on my toes. I enjoy being with people, running the soundboard at church, and taking in the beauty of New England right now!