Read 44.) Numbers 26:1 thru 65. Chapter 26 is one of the chapters that explains why the book of Numbers was named Numbers. It is Israel’s 2nd census since coming out of Egypt. That first census was taken back in chapters 1 thru 3, an entire forty years before. It’s kinda sad to say, but think about it, Israel had been relegated to wandering around in the Arabian wilderness one year for every day that the explorers had checked out the Promised Land for Israel back in chapter 13. But, after it had proven to actually be a land of ‘milk and honey’, and Caleb urged the people to trust the Lord and immediately go in to take it; Israel, in seemingly continual chronic unbelief, disobedience and unfaithfulness, refused! As a consequence, that entire generation, counted in the first census, of all those males 20 years of age and older, was consigned to die in that wilderness, until the next generation rose up in its place. And, so, now, we read in chapter 25 of another massive failure of faith on the part of Israel; this time, it is that new generation, and it is rather obvious that they are no more believing, faithful or obedient than their parents were! What is the Lord ever going to do? How will He ever be able to bring forth Messiah???
The real purpose of chapter 26 is to doubly illustrate a great tragedy in Israel. the first is seen in verses 1 and 2. Since Israel was not going to be taken into the Promised Land to fulfill the 3rd of the 4 prophecies and promises God had given to Israel’s patriarchs until that first faithless generation had passed; God sent a plague among Israel in chapter 25 so as to rid Israel of the last among them that had God’s pronouncement to die in the wilderness to fall upon them. The very last of the ‘cursed generation’, if you will, were slain with that plague by the Lord. The judgment of Numbers 14 was satisfied. If that weren’t tragic enough, the second purpose for chapter 26 is even worse. Recall God’s first promise that He fulfilled. He would make of Abraham, then Isaac, and finally Jacob, a great nation which would consist of a great many of their very own flesh-and-blood descendants. This was what Genesis 12 thru 50 was really all about. And, if you will also recall, it was in Genesis 46, when Jacob took his clan down into Egypt in the spring of 1876 BC, that we learn that all Israel only numbered 70 then. Imagine now, if you will, what took place among the Israelites during their entire 430 year existence in Egypt, to 1446 BC, when God brought them from 70 in number, to where we count 603,550 males 20 yrs of age and older, and, that their total number had to have exceeded 2 million people! God had truly promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and had made good on it! But, see what has happened only since coming out of Egypt. While they had multiplied very rapidly in Egypt, in keeping with God’s promise; since coming out, and for an entire 40 year generation, we can compare the 2 census tallies from chapters 1 and 26 and learn that Israel did not grow at all! As a result of Israel’s great failure of faith in chapter 13, they lost an entire generation of growth. Disobedience can cost you what you may never see! This too, is what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell
From 1400 BC, and 2 million Jews, Israel became, at their peak in 1939, some 17 million. After WWII, world Jewry numbered approximately 11 million. Today, their number is about 15 million, with some 83% of all Jews living in Israel, and the United States.