Finding Truth for Today in the Book of Numbers
When reading the Bible, many questions arise when Christians reach the Book of Numbers. Its accounts of Israel are set in a time and place that seems very far away which can make it a challenge to discern its continuing relevance. Despite these cultural barriers, Numbers is still a book that offers Christians many valuable lessons to ponder.
To aid pastors in teaching this book to their congregations, Drs. Joel Barker and Steven West have co-authored a new commentary on the book of Numbers released by Kregel Publications.
This new commentary is part of the Kerux Commentary series. Each of these commentaries pairs two authors who provide an exegetical interpretation of the book alongside insights from a trained and experienced preacher to guide pastors as they prepare and deliver messages from each book.
Dr. Barker had the job of exegetically working through Numbers to help pastors understand its original meaning in preparation for teaching it in their ministry settings. As he worked through the book, he explained that despite being set in a distant time and place, it still speaks to themes today that are essential for the Christian life. One theme that stood out to him was how Numbers encourages Christians to remember what God has done to respond with thanks and obedience and learn from Israel’s frequent failure to do so.
“Christians today are called to remember what God has done for us by keeping the work of Christ at the centre of our lives. Our remembering should call us to gratitude and faithfulness to God’s call,” says Barker. “Unfortunately, like Israel, we are prone to forget what God has done or to focus on matters of lesser importance.”
“Numbers provides positive and negative examples for Christians about the need to be re-oriented in our faith by hearing the call to remember God and all of His goodness.”
Dr. West guides pastors on how they would preach sermons throughout the Book of Numbers in this new commentary. And, though he wouldn’t necessarily advise a pastor today to preach a long series through the Book of Numbers, he says that this oft-considered obscure book is crucial to understanding the unfolding of redemptive history. He explains that Numbers deals with vital themes of God’s character, promises, holiness and covenant faithfulness, as well as the sin of his people—themes that continue to be important and essential.
“The book shows us God’s glory and our need of Christ. It holds up a mirror to our hearts and magnifies God’s grace and patience while also revealing serious consequences for persistent sin and rebellion,” says West. “Human nature is the same today as it was back then, and God is eternally unchanging, so it’s not surprising there’s so much contemporary relevance and resonance.”