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The Book of Numbers details the time from the Exodus of God's people from Egypt when they wandered in the desert for a period of thirty-eight years as they were being prepared to enter the Promised Land. As with the Old Testament itself, Numbers describes the obedience, rebellion, repentance and blessings of the first and second generations of the Israelites.
Numbers also describes God's directions to His people and His preparation of them to enter Canaan.
Numbers shows God's many qualities including:
- God's strictness of holding His people to His rules (Numbers 14: 30-34, NRSV)
- God denying the disobeying first generation from entering the Promised Land
- Showing His goodness and love as he proffered the next generation who entered the Land (Numbers 6:24-26).
How God relates to His people is showcased in Numbers and frequently referred to in the New Testament. For example, in 1 Corinthians 10: 1-12, the Holy Spirit described God's displeasure with the people who did not follow His rules. It is a continuing guide for His people that good and bad continues to fight inside the person, and that following God's rules takes work and reliance on Him to help.
Numbers foreshadows the coming of God's Son to save the people and give God what the people could not. In Numbers 19:13, the Red Heifer is shown to be without blemish and offered to purify and overcome death and sin. In God's love for His people, He gives His only Son to redeem them. In this way, Numbers is not only a warning against sin, but a confirmation of God's love for His people.