Numbers 1:44 These are those who were enrolled, whom Moses and Aaron enrolled with the help of the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each representing his ancestral house. 45 So the whole number of the Israelites, by their ancestral houses, from twenty years old and upward, everyone able to go to war in Israel— 46 their whole number was six hundred three thousand five hundred fifty. 47 The Levites, however, were not numbered by their ancestral tribe along with them.
Today we started into the book of Numbers. As one might expect, the book of Numbers begins with… numbers. The Lord commands Moses to take a census to count the number of battle-ready males among the Israelites. I skipped ahead a few verses to see the total number. It was just over 603K men, not including women and children. One could assume the inclusive total would be well over 1 million people.
Yesterday I preached a sermon with Abraham as a key subject. Abraham was 80 years old and childless when God called him to the land of Canaan. God declared he wanted to build a nation with Abraham and Sarah his wife as the starting point. Though at the time of their meeting they had no descendants, God would give them descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. That’s a lot. Yet it took 20 years for God to give them child #1 whom they named Isaac.
When Abraham died he had nowhere near the number of descendants promised to him. I would probably have died thinking God failed me. As numerous as the stars in the sky? What a joke. Yet today’s passage reveals that the promise made to Abraham was indeed fulfilled. It just took a while. A long while, like several centuries.
Too often I think God is not responding to my prayers. I pray and I want to see something happen – right now. I want to observe cause and effect. C’mon Lord, do something! But today I’m reminded that our God doesn’t live in the same finite time/space world that you and I live in. To God, a few hundred years is a tick of the clock. And so I am called to wait. And trust that God is acting in God’s time, not mine. Ugh! I’m terrible at waiting.
Gracious God, you are one who keeps your promises. Give us grace to live in anticipation, trusting that realization will come. In time. Amen.