Friday, August 3, 2012

Picturing Christ in the Book of Numbers

1 Corinthians 10:6 "Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved."

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 represents a remarkable section of sacred scripture that outlines for us the entire book of Numbers and gives us several pictures of Jesus Christ from that book.  In today's blog we will explore 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 to see how exactly the Apostle Paul appeals to Numbers to picture Jesus Christ.

A brief word on Moses and the books of Exodus thru Deuteronomy
The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses from 1446-1406 b.c.  Moses' life can be divided into three forty year periods.  The first forty year period has him in the courts of Pharoah, growing up and being educated under the teachers of the nation.  Following an increasing burden for his fellow Israelites who were enslaved under the Egyptian regiem, Moses witnesses an Egyptian beating a fellow Israelite and ends up killing the man.  This leads to Moses' fleeing for his life into the Midianite desert. 

For the second period of forty years Moses learns how to shepherd sheep and live in obscurity.  At the end of that time God meets him in the burning bush, calling him to go back and redeem the people of God.  Exodus records those events, wherein Moses leads the people out of of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and by God's power brings them to the base of Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 1-24)  While at the Mountain Moses and the people are shown the vision of the Tabernacle. (Exodus 25-40)  It is quite likely that Moses composed the book of Genesis while being on top of Mount Sinai in Exodus 33.  By the end of Exodus, we have seen the people one year removed from their deliverance from Egypt.  The Book of Leviticus records their first 50 days in the second year, preparing for when they would leave for the promised land. 

It is in the Book of Numbers that we come to the third forty year period of Moses' life.  Picking up where Leviticus leaves off, the people of God are depicted as journeying from Mount Sinai, complaining and rebelling against God.  Eventually God consigns them to forty years of wandering.  By the time we reach the end of Numbers, Moses is nearly 120 years old.  The Book of Deuteronomy records the final year or so of Moses' life as a whole new generation of Israelites are camped on the plains of Moab, ready to enter into the promised land. 

Seeing Christ in the Book of Numbers
That brief summary was to show you where the book of Numbers fits into God's overall work in the lives of His people.  Their lack of faith and unbelief provided lessons that Paul reminded the Corinthian church not to repeat.  In 1 Corinthians 10:6 and 11, Paul reminds us as well that if we do not heed the lessons of Numbers, we too will end up in major trouble.  How can we avoid that - by fixing our eyes on Christ.

1. Christ the Protective Shepherd. 1 Corinthians 10:1-6
Paul first of all hearkens the reader back to those opening chapters in Numbers 1-21.  He reminds the reader of the rock that gave water to a grumbling people.  In Numbers 20:8-13, Moses struck that rock in anger and it resulted in him not being able to go into the promised land.  Paul reminds us that we must ever be careful how we regard Christ our protective shepherd.  Despite what can be our rebellion at times, Christ is ever faithful and desires us to love Him as much as He loves us. 

2. Christ the Perfect Savior. 1 Corinthians 10:7-13
In this tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul lays out for us a Divine commentary on Numbers - pointing us to Jesus Christ.  He points us to Christ the Protective Shepherd in 1 Corinthians 10:1-6.  Various events are recalled from Numbers 1-21.  Then Paul takes the remainder of 1 Corinthians 10:7-13 and shows us Christ the Perfect Savior.

In 1 Corinthians 10:7-10 he hearkens us back to Numbers 22-25, during those days when the Israelites compromised with the false prophet Balaam.  Paul warns us not to crave evil things as they craved, including idolatry (10:7); immorality (10:8) and testing of God's character (10:9).  In 1 Corinthians 10:10 he warns his readers and us not to complain nor grumble - a sin which they repeatedly did throughout Numbers (Numbers 11,12,13-14, 16 and 20 and 21)

Then In 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 he hearkens us back to Numbers 26-36, driving home the point of our need to focus on Jesus Christ - the Perfect Savior.  

Concluding Thoughts
In summary, Paul takes 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 and points us to Christ the Protective Shepherd and Perfect Savior by outlining for us the entire Book of Numbers:

1 Corinthians 10:1-6 = Numbers 1-21
1 Corinthians 10:7-10 = Numbers 22-25
1 Corinthians 10:11-13 = Numbers 26-36

May you and I ever keep Christ before us. 

No comments:

Post a Comment