NUMBERS 1:44-46: “Moses, Aaron, and the 12 leaders of Israel, each representing his own family, added up these totals. So the Israelites were registered by households. The grand total of men who were at least 20 years old and eligible for military duty was 603,550.” (GW)
NUMBERS 26:51: “The total number of Israelite men was 601,730.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Have you ever considered the Mercy of God in judgment? No one likes to talk about judgment. And no one usually thinks of mercy connected with judgment. Yet, as we read the Book of Numbers we are met with God’s Mercy over and over again – even in times of judgment.
When the 12 spies returned from investigating the land of Canaan, 10 came back with a bad report, and two came back with a good report. They all agreed that the land was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, but only two thought they could conquer and possess it, as the Lord had commanded. The other 10 spies feared the giants in the land and spread fear and disobedience among the Israelites. At that time there was 603,550 men over the age of 20 who were eligible to go to war.
Fast forward 40 years later. In judgment for their doubt and disobedience this entire generation was sentenced to wander for 40 years in the wilderness until every one of them died and were buried. The only two that did not die out of this numbering was Joshua and Caleb, who had brought forth the good report and believed in the promise of God.
As Moses was closing the last chapters of both his life and leadership, the Lord instructed him to take another census of Israel. This census was taken after all the previous men in the census had died, and after numerous times of judgment in the wilderness for rebellion and sin. I wonder if Moses was amazed when the number reported was 601,730 men over the age of 20 who were eligible to go to war. This is virtually the same amount of men before their rebellion. This is the Mercy of God!
On all accounts the Nation of Israel deserved judgment. Based on their merit they never should have made it out of the wilderness. Yet, in His Great Mercy, God preserved this nation, and raised up another generation to enter into His promises. Mercy is God’s heart and desire. Judgment is His strange work. The Cross of Calvary is the everlasting symbol that has been raised to declare to the world that Mercy is God’s heart and desire, and Judgment is His strange work.
- “This is true because Christ suffered for our sins once. He was an innocent person, but he suffered for guilty people so that he could bring you to God. His body was put to death, but he was brought to life through his spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18 GW)
Think about the Mercy of God! Jesus Christ, God Himself in human flesh, took the wrath and judgment for sin upon Himself, an innocent person, suffering for all of mankind under the sentence of death. Through this substitutionary sacrifice God’s Mercy is now extended to ALL who will believe.
- “Therefore, we are Christ’s representatives, and through us God is calling you. We beg you on behalf of Christ to become reunited with God. God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin so that we might receive God’s approval through him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21 GW)
- “However, what else does it say? “This message is near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart.” This is the message of faith that we spread. If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved. By believing you receive God’s approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved. Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed.” There is no difference between Jews and Greeks. They all have the same Lord, who gives his riches to everyone who calls on him. So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13 GW)
Lord, this Easter Season, may all open their hearts to Your Great Mercy! May all who do not know You become united with You through faith in Jesus Christ. And may all who know You marvel and rejoice in Your Great Mercy!
In Jesus Name!