Numbers 1:1–4:20: Adopted into God’s family

The lesson of the Torah reading בְּמִדְבַּר Bamidbar (“in the wilderness,” Num. 1:1–4:20) is the family of God started with Abraham, then his son Yitskhak (Isaac), his grandson Ya’akob (Jacob) and Jacob’s 12 sons. From that small family, the knowledge of God has spread all over the world.

It is the job of the Messiah — Yeshua (Jesus) — to find and gather all those who want to be adopted as God’s sons and daughters until He returns again. There will be no Gentiles in the Kingdom of God. All those who come in become part of Israel.

Roughly 70 members of Jacob’s family entered Mitsraim (Egypt), and after 210-220 years, they leave with over 600,000 men. If you add in the women and children, there were about 2 million people who left Egypt.

Several types of censuses in the Torah:

  • Census of military-aged men, with a half-shekel “atonement fee.”
  • Census of the first-born of all Israel
  • Census of tribe of Levi

God does not like the census process. By giving a small amount of money, you can count people figuratively, rather than literally.

Every human being belongs to God but He had to kill the first-born of Egypt to free the children of Israel. He purchased Israel’s first-born by killing Egypt’s first-born. This is why God says the first-born of Israel all belong to Him as an exchange.

Later, God said that rather than taking all of Israel’s first-born, God took the entire tribe of Levi in exchange for all of Israel’s first-born. The other tribes could keep their first-born sons in exchange for Levi but He did not kill the Levites, but call them to serve Him in His temple.

This exchange happens continually, in every generation of Israel. Every Israelite first-born who came into the world after this time was redeemed with a monetary offering of five shekels.

When one person is killed, it isn’t just that one person who is wiped out. All their heirs for all generations from that time forward have also been wiped out. God takes that kind of death seriously and through the offering of the first-born, God is teaching Israel this lesson too.

Everyone was counted in their name and the name of their father. Even though all their names aren’t recorded here, they were being recorded. Ancient tribes took their genealogy very seriously.

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Take a census of the descendants of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families, by their fathers’ households, from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service to do the work in the tent of meeting. “This is the work of the descendants of Kohath in the tent of meeting, concerning the most holy things.” (Numbers 4:1–4 NASB)

“When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and die. These are the things in the tent of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.” (Numbers 4:15 NASB)

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Do not let the tribe of the families of the Kohathites be cut off from among the Levites. “But do this to them that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy objects: Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each of them to his work and to his load; but they shall not go in to see the holy objects even for a moment, or they will die.”” (Numbers 4:17–20 NASB)

Moses and Aaron are descendants of this tribe, but Aaron and his family were separated out to be the priests.

When God wanted them to move the priests first went in and covered all the furniture with symbolic coverings, color coded based on the part of the tabernacle they originated. Making sure all these items were covered and properly color coded was a deadly serious task, particularly for the sons of Kohath who were assigned to the items in the most inner parts of the sanctuary, including the ark of the covenant.

The tribes of Israel, including all the Levites all moved out in order of how they surrounded the tabernacle.

The Visionary Ezekiel Temple plan drawn by the 19th century French architect and Bible scholar Charles Chipiez in 1887. Photo in Public Domain, information from Wikimedia Commons.

In the Ezekiel 48:30-35 vision of the city of God, each tribe has their own gate to enter the temple rather than one gate for all. Joseph is a single tribe and Levi has their own location. The Levites, the first-born, have been replaced with the ultimate first-born, the Messiah.

Messiah is the first-born who is perfect, without fail. He is the High Priest forever. He is the only one who can sit at the right hand of God forever and ever.

There is no Gentile gate in Ezekiel’s vision. There’s a reason for this. You will also notice that all families are counted by tribe, which is patriarchal, not matriarchal.

“Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.” (Galatians 3:6–9 NASB)

In order to be a part of this family, Gentiles go back before these tribes were born. They go back to Abraham. Gentiles become sons of Abraham through faith and trust in Abraham’s God. Gentiles don’t stop with Abraham, they also have to look to Isaac, the son of promise. Isaac never left or abandoned his inheritance. Abraham’s other sons were sent way but Isaac stayed.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26–29 NASB)

We must be willing to be taught God’s laws. Without the law, we have no idea what sin is, what life is. We don’t just believe and trust, we must also live a particular type of life. When we life our faith, we know what it means. Faith can’t just stay in one’s mind, it has to be lived out.

That is what Jacob and his heirs inherited. They were given the Torah and were taught how to live the way God wanted them to live.

God wants all of us to have:

  • Faith of Abraham
  • Abiding of Isaac
  • Instructions of Jacob

Messiah’s job is to reveal who are the sons of God in all generations until He comes again. Once you are in Messiah, you are no longer a Gentile. That is why there will be no Gentiles in the Kingdom of Heaven. Only citizens of Israel will have fellowship with the Messiah and His Father.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1John 2:1–6 NASB)

We have to go beyond keeping the commandments. We need to have love and more love as we read in 1John 3. We know what Messiah looked like by what He did. Yeshua was perfect, He performed miracles and He showed love to everyone who came to Him. Love is not a feeling, it’s an action. This process of learning will take a lifetime.

“’Thus says the LORD of hosts, “It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts; I will also go.’ So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.” ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”‘” (Zechariah 8:20–23 NASB)

We don’t know what job we will have or exactly what we will look like when Messiah comes, but our goal should be to live with God.


All believers of Yeshua have symbolically grabbed the tzitzit of Messiah Yeshua, who was of the tribe of Judah. It is because of Yeshua Messiah that we can have the faith of Abraham, the endurance of Isaac and the Torah given to Jacob and his sons.

We also read in Revelation 21:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.’” (Revelation 21:1–7 NASB)

Banner Photo: The Numbering of the Israelites engraving by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1815–1884). Public Domain artwork.  

Summary: Tammy.




Recent posts in Discussions

Recent posts in Torah

What do you think about this?