“Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans … listing every man by name, one by one.” (Numbers 1:2)
Before leading Israel into the wilderness, God told them to count every man 20 years old or older and able to serve in the army. And “the total number was 603,550.”
A census may seem boring, but we can learn some things from it. First, it reminds us that God is faithful. God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17). And here is a census of the men able to serve in Israel’s army numbers in the hundreds of thousands — and that doesn’t include women, children, the Levites, and many others who made up the people of Israel. God had kept his promise.
The census also shows that at that time in history, God’s people needed an army to defend themselves, and when God called them to battle against his and their enemies, they needed to be prepared. God would fight for his people and protect them, but they also needed to stand firm and show other nations that they were God’s faithful people. The battles they fought were rooted in spiritual war between the one true God and the false gods of other nations, led by the great deceiver of all peoples — Satan, who wants to destroy us all.
Today we are still involved in spiritual war for God’s kingdom. The Christian life is a fight of faith. The devil wants us to lose hope and abandon God. But Jesus, our Savior, has defeated all our spiritual enemies. Are you fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12)?
God, you are faithful. Help us to be faithful to you, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.