You Come To My Census

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

You matter to God, too. Your name is recorded in his book, and in his mind. You are ever before him. And the census of the Israelites means that God is in charge of where you came from—your history was watched over each step of the way, and even the bad parts have been leveraged for your good and his glory. Whenever you read a census, or are tempted to skip it, remember that it is reminding you that you matter to Someone very important who is working out the details of your life according to his good purpose. You might even say that you come to God’s census!

Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 26:1-4, 64-65

After the plague the Lord said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by families—all those twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army of Israel.” So on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them and said, “Take a census of the men twenty years old or more, as the Lord commanded Moses.” …Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai.  For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

When you read through the Old Testament, especially the first five books, what we call the Pentateuch or the Books of Moses, you will need to endure, or get to enjoy, depending on your perspective, several genealogies that tell the story of how the family of man in general and the people of God, Israel, in particular came to be and how they got to where they were. Reading them may not be the most exciting assignment in your journey through God’s Word, and writing devotionally about them is a bit of a stretch as well. Don’t believe me? Just try it.

Yet within these long lists of names that mean very little to us today, there is much meaning for us today. For one thing, when God called for Moses and Eleazar to take a second census of the Israelites, we are seeing a God whose people mean something to him. Each name, each family and each tribe are recording in God’s book, and in God’s mind. These real, live human beings were not just a jumble of names like we see in the phone book, they mattered to God—each of them. And if they mattered to God, we matter to God.

You matter to God, too. Your name is recorded in his book, and in his mind. You are ever before him. And the census of the Israelites means that God is in charge of where you came from—your history was watched over each step of the way, and even the bad parts have been leveraged for your good and his glory. Whenever you read a census, or are tempted to skip it, remember that it is reminding you that you matter to Someone very important who is working out the details of your life according to his good purpose. (Romans 8:28) Yes, you come to God’s census!

For another thing, these genealogies remind us that God is a God of history and he is over history, which makes history His story! God is in control. You may lose sight of that, but not a single day goes by in the macro world and in the micro world of your life that he doesn’t see and that he is not redeeming as a page the will make up the epic story of God. Each day when you awaken, remind yourself of that. When you go to bed at the end of that day, reflect on the fact that the past twenty-four hours, no matter what they looked like to human eyes, were repurposed for God’s glory. All of the days in human history are alike in that each of them have come to his census.

Finally, this particular census, as with all of them, reminds us that God fulfills his word—both words of blessing and words of judgment. In this case, God judged the Israelites rebellious unbelief when they refused to go into the Promised Land because of a negative report from the ten spies. So God said to them, “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.” (Number 14:30) Now decades later, in this census, we see that God had fulfilled his word of judgment (“For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left,” Numbers 26:65a) as well as his word of blessing (“…except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun,” Numbers 26:65b).

God watches over his—it is his story. He fulfills his word—make no mistake about that. And God keeps a close eye on you, too—and that should be of great comfort to you. Yes, when you read a genealogy in Scripture, just stop for a moment to realize, you come to God’s census. Make sense?

Going Deeper With God: Re-read the sixty-five verses of Numbers 26—every single one of them—and rejoice at each name that God cares about you.

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