February 17: numbers (Numbers 1-2; Acts 24)

Numbers. As I read the opening chapters, I am reminded of trips that I have taken where before getting back on the bus we counted. We wanted to be sure everyone was present; no one left behind. The book of Numbers does not indicate why it was necessary to list the name of everyone who was counted (note that only the men/households were counted) but it must have been to create order.

The Bible is not organized in chronological order. With Numbers, we are taken back to the time just after the Israelites have escaped to the wilderness of Sinai. From slavery to new-found freedom, it was like the counting that I have experienced when traveling. Every household was organized within a tribe that could be traced back to one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Every household counted. Every household mattered.

In Acts 24, we learn that Paul was in prison – for more than two years. Periodically, he was brought before the governor who hoped Paul would offer a bribe. All Paul had to offer was the message of the gospel that God had given him. I wonder if Paul ever felt left behind. During the long periods that he would sit in prison, perhaps he remembered the care given in the scriptures to counting. Everyone matters – to God.

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