I don’t know how you feel about the lists of things we find in the book of Numbers but I often find myself skimming over them to get to something interesting. Chapter 2 is a perfect example: the writer explains how the movement of the Israelites should be organised. He numbers them (this type of chapter is where the name of the book comes from) and explains who camps on which side, who is in the middle and who is to march where. It’s precise and exact.
Paul says all Scripture is God-breathed – inspired by God and helpful in teaching us to live right. ALL Scripture, that includes the bits I find boring or tedious or dull. So what can we learn from Numbers chapter 2? We can learn that God is interested in the details. Time and again in these books of the Law we see God giving intricate detail about exactly how things should be done. How the tabernacle should be crafted. Who should do it. What colours should be woven into the curtains. What should be burned, offered and by whom and when. Even down to the order in which the Israelites should march and camp as we see here.
The logistics of moving over a million people (there were over 600,000 troops so add in women, children and the elderly) in a hostile environment would have been mind-boggling. But God had it in hand. He doesn’t get overwhelmed with the details as we too easily can. What might seem too hard, too big, too outrageous for us isn’t for him because one of the things that makes Him God is omnipotence.
Omnipotent: all-powerful, having power without limit. God is the only one of whom this can truly be said. Kings, rulers, dictators have made that claim but God is the One to whom it truly belongs. If anything could limit Him then He would not be God.
This is both awe-inspiring and reassuring. It’s awe-inspiring because He chooses to limit Himself to working through us. The Good News of our gospel is that He became man to lay down His life for us. An omnipotent God becoming bound by time and humanity because He loves us.
It is reassuring because it means He doesn’t get swallowed up or overwhelmed by the details of our lives. There’s nothing too big or small for Him to take an interest in and to care about. We don’t have to worry that the problems we face are too hard for Him or that He is too busy dealing with the Universe to care about our day-to-day lives. He has time, attention and love for every aspect of our lives.
This doesn’t mean we have to ‘hear’ from Him like thunder before we make a decision but it does mean we ought to talk to Him about things and listen because maybe He does have plans for where we should live, what we should eat, who we should hang out with, what our careers should be, how we should spend our money.
The care He showed to the Israelites came from the same love He now lavishes on us. Instead of being bored let’s rejoice and be excited that an omnipotent God is watching and planning for our good.