Do You Understand How Strong You Truly Are?

Today’s selected reading begins the Old Testament book of Numbers which was written and recorded by Moses the servant of the Lord. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first two chapters of the book. TAKE YE THE SUM OF ALL THE CONGREGATION! OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL! AFTER THEIR FAMILIES! BYE THE HOUSE OF THEIR FATHERS! WITH THE NUMBE ROF THEIR NAMES! FROM TWENTY YEARS OLD AND UPWARD! ALL THAT ARE ABLE TO GO FORTH TO WAR IN ISRAEL! THOU AND AARON SHALL NUMBER THEM BY THEIR ARMIES! A CENSUS FOR WAR! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the Old Testament book of Numbers beginning and opening up with a very specific command and set of instructions given by the living God. If and as you read the words which are found within the opening verses of the first chapter you will find the LORD speaking unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai in the tabernacle of congregation on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt. That which the living God spoke unto Moses concerning the children of Israel was actually quite remarkable and astonishing when you think about and consider it, for the Living God instructed and commanded Moses to take a census and to number the sum of the children of Israel. What makes the command and instruction spoken by the living God so incredibly powerful is when you think about and consider the fact that He was very specific with who He wanted and who He called for being numbered among the children of Israel. There were those whom the LORD wanted numbered among the children of Israel, while there were those who weren’t to be numbered among the children of Israel. I am thoroughly convinced that in order to recognize and understand the tremendous significance of what is written and found within these chapters it is absolutely necessary to begin with what we find at the end of the first chapter. As you come to the end of the first chapter you will find the LORD giving Moses a very specific command concerning the tribe of Levi among the children of Israel, and how the tribe of Levi with their sons and fathers were not be numbered among the men of Israel who were twenty years of age and upward. If you begin reading with and from the forty-seventh verse of the first chapter you will find the following words which were revealed unto Moses concerning the tribe of Levi:

“But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them. For the LORD had spoken unto Moses, saying, Only thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel: but thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to i: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger the cometh night shall be put to death. And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts. But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony. And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they” (Numbers 1:47-54).

As I sit here this morning, and before I delve into this reality of those among the children of Israel being numbered, as well as the Levites who weren’t numbered, I can’t help see a truly wonderful distinction between those who were numbered among the children of Israel to go forth to war, and those who weren’t numbered among the children of Israel since they were Levites, and how the Levites were set apart for a different purpose. It’s actually quite interesting and astounding to think about and consider the fact that from among the congregation of the children of Israel there were those who were set apart and raised up for the work of the ministry of the sanctuary, while there were others who were numbered among the children of Israel to go forth to war. It’s actually quite interesting that within the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers you will find two distinct functions and roles that were ordained and appointed among the children of Israel. In the opening verses of the first chapter you will find those who were numbered among the children of Israel for the purpose of war, and there were those who weren’t numbered from among the children of Israel, but who were set apart and appointed for the work of the ministry of the Tabernacle of testimony. It’s actually quite astounding and remarkable to consider the dynamic that was found within this first chapter, as well as within the congregation of the children of Israel, for not only do we see the role and function of warfare, but we also see the role and function of worship. Within the first chapter of this Old Testament book of Numbers we encounter and come face to face with the reality that there were those from among the children of Israel who were set apart for the purpose of ministering in the sanctuary of the living God, while there were others who were set apart for the purpose of warfare and engaging the enemy in battle. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for within the conversation of the children of Israel being numbered there is this clear dichotomy and distinction between those who were ordained and appointed for worship and those who were ordained and appointed for warfare. The tribe of Levi with its sons and fathers would not be numbered from among the congregation of Israel in the census that numbered all those who were able to go forth to war, for they were set apart unto the living God for the purpose of ministry before and within His holy sanctuary which was among the children of Israel.

I find it absolutely incredible that for the congregation of Israel to function—both when they were encamped in the midst of the wilderness, as well as when they were marching and moving through the midst of it—they needed those who were able to go forth to war, but they also needed those who were able to break down and set up the Tabernacle of testimony which was among the congregation of Israel. The congregation of Israel was brought forth from the midst of the land of Egypt, and even when you read the narrative of the children of Israel being brought forth from the midst of the land of Egypt you find and read the narrative that the living God brought forth the children of Israel according to their armies and as the army of God. Even as early as the exodus from the land of Egypt we find this concept of those among the congregation of the children of Israel who were able to go forth to war, and how within the congregation of the children of Israel the LORD God of the Hebrews did in fact have an army—an army that would march forth in the midst of the wilderness, and an army that would directly confront the enemies which attempted to withstand the congregation of Israel. If you read the words which are found within this first and opening chapter of the book of Numbers you will find that the LORD had two distinct roles and functions within the congregation of the children of Israel, for on the one hand the LORD had those who were numbered among sons and fathers from each tribe to go forth to war, and on the other hand the LORD had those who weren’t numbered, but were sons and fathers who were from the tribe of Levi who were ordained and appointed for the ministry of the sanctuary and Tabernacle of the living God. There would be the tendency to read this opening chapter and to think about and consider the fact that those who were able to go forth to war were somehow more important to and for the congregation of the children of Israel than those who actually were involved with the sanctuary and Tabernacle of the living God in the wilderness, and yet I would dare say that such a thought is not only erroneous, but is also incredibly false and misleading. There is a great temptation to think that those who are able to go forth to war are of greater significance and worth to the congregation of the righteous, and yet I would dare state that there is no greater worth or value among those who are able to go forth to war versus those who ministered among the sanctuary of the living God.

With this being said, I feel compelled to call and draw your attention to the absolutely incredible reality that when the congregation of the children of Israel went forth to battle—while it was true that the tribe of Judah was the first of the twelve tribes to march toward the battle, they weren’t the first ones to actually see and encounter the battle. If and as you read the words which are found within the Old Testament and the narrative of the congregation of Israel you will find that before the tribe of Judah would be the Levites who were appointed to carry the Ark of the Covenant of the living God high and lifted up upon their shoulders before the armies of Israel. THE ARK GOES BEFORE THE ARMY! THE ARK GOES BEFORE THE ARMIES! What’s more, is that as you think about and consider this reality, you will find that the tribe of Judah latterly means “Praise.” This is unique when you think about it in relation to the Ark of the Covenant going before the armies of Israel, for in every battle and whenever the congregation of the armies of Israel went forth to battle, they were first led by the Ark of the Covenant which represented the glory and presence of the living God. Directly behind the symbol of the glory and presence of the living God was that tribe which was not only able to go forth to war, but also that tribe which bore the name of “Praise.” It’s worth noting that in each and every battle the congregation of the children of Israel went out to against their enemies—the priests who bore up the Ark of the Covenant went before the armies of Israel, and even went before that tribe whose name literally means “Praise.” I find it incredibly interesting that while there were those from the twelve tribes of Israel which were numbered to go out to war against the enemies of the people of Israel, it was priests who went before the armies of Israel into battle, and it was the priests who bore up the Ark of the Covenant upon their shoulders and brought it into battle. This is absolutely astounding when you think about the fact that before the armies of the congregation of Israel ever entered into the battle, the battle and the enemy would first experience the Ark of the Covenant. In every battle which the children of Israel with its armies entered, the battle would first be met with the symbol of the glory and presence of the living God, and would then be met with that first tribe which would not only be the tribe of praise, but would also be a tribe that was able and fit to go out to war against the enemies of Israel. We dare not miss and lose sight of this reality and concept, for while we do have a conversation concerning the armies of the children of Israel, we must recognize that it wasn’t even the armies themselves which first entered into battle.

The more I think about the opening chapter of this Old Testament book of Numbers the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that into every battle the Ark of the Covenant carried by the priests was the first to confront the enemy. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that in every battle and every conflict the people of God faced—the very first thing the enemy was confronted with wasn’t even the army itself, but rather the glory and presence of the living God. It is absolutely necessary to think about and consider this wonderful reality, for in every battle which the people of God entered and faced, the enemy would first be confronted with and by the ark of the covenant of the living God, and that symbol of the glory and presence of the living God. This reality is even evidenced when you come to the Old Testament book of First Samuel when you find the children of Israel engaging in battle against the Philistine armies, and how upon initially suffering defeat they then thought to bring the Ark of the Covenant forth before them into battle. It’s quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that on this particular occasion the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines while the children of Israel themselves suffered a tremendous defeat and loss against the Philistines and their armies. When we think about the armies of Israel going forth into battle and entering into conflict, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the role of the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant upon their shoulders and who marched straight into the midst of the battle. It is truly incredible to think that the first thing the enemies of Israel were met with when the armies of Israel marched forth into battle against them wasn’t even the armies themselves, but rather was the Ark of the Covenant and the glory and presence of the living God. Permit me to pause for a moment and ask if this describes you in your life and in the midst of the conflicts and struggles you face on a daily basis—perhaps even on a weekly or monthly basis. When you enter into and experience a conflict or struggle, is the first thing the conflict or struggle experiences not you, not your might, not your strength, not your ability, but the Ark of the Covenant which symbolizes the presence and glory of the living God? As you enter into conflict and struggle within your life, do you bring into that conflict the glory and presence of the living God which is immediately followed by the praise of your warfare? Oh that we would recognize and understand the absolutely wonderful and incredible reality that when the children of Israel marched into the conflict and struggle, the very first thing they should have been met with was indeed the glory and presence of the living God which was carried high and lifted up upon the shoulders of the priests.

As you read the words found within the opening chapter of the book of Numbers you will come face to face with the reality that the living God instructed Moses to take a census and number the children of Israel, but specifically those who were twenty years of age and up. This is truly unique when you think about the fact that when the children of Israel were being numbered—those who were able to go forth to war—there were sons who were numbered with fathers, brothers who were numbered with brothers, nephews numbered with uncles, and perhaps even generations of men, which might have included sons, fathers and grandfathers. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that numbered among the armies of the congregation of Israel were sons who would have possibly fought side by side with their fathers, and even brothers who fought side by side with their brothers. A wonderful and powerful example of this is found in the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Chronicles when Joab and Abishai were forced to confront the armies of Syria and Ammon which came up against the children of Israel. If you begin reading with and from the eighth verse of the nineteenth chapter you will find the following words which describe Joab and his brother Abishai who were responsible for leading the armies of Israel in battle against these two enemies and foes:

“And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men. And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array before the gate of the city: and the kings that were come were by themselves in the field. Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, he chose out of all the choice of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians. And the rest of the people he delivered unto the hand of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in array against the children of Ammon. And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee. Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities so our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight. So Joab and the people that were with him drew nigh before the Syrians unto the battle; and they fled before him. And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, they likewise fled before Abishai his brother and entered into the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem. And when the Syrians saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they sent messengers, and drew forth the Syrians that were beyond the river: and Shophach the captain of the host of Hadarezer went before them. And it was told David; and he gathered all Israel, and passed over Jordan, and came upon them, and set the battle in array against them. So when David had put the battle in array against the Syrians, they fought with him. But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and killed Shophach the captain of the host. And when the servants of Hadarezer saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they made peace with David, and became his servants: neither would the Syrians help the children of Ammon anymore” (1 Chronicles 19:8-19).

This passage found within the nineteenth chapter of the book of First Chronicles is one that helps provide us with a fantastic understanding of the census which the LORD God of the Hebrews instructed Moses to conduct, for as you consider this narrative of Joab and his brother Abishai you will find that when the children of Israel were threatened and opposed by both Syria, as well as Ammon, David dispatched Joab and the mighty men of Israel against these foes. When Joab realized what was taking place in the battle he enlisted the assistance of his brother who fought against the enemies of Israel together. It’s actually quite interesting when you think about and consider this reality, for within this passage—not only do we find two brothers fighting side by side with each other, but we also find them acknowledging the reality that the battle which they each faced might be too difficult for them, and the enemy proving too strong for them. If that happened to be the case that one who was being overwhelmed by the enemy would be assisted by his brother and the men who were fighting together with him. The picture we find here is absolutely incredible when you take the time to think about and consider that in this particular battle—not only do we find the mighty men of Israel fighting against the enemies of Israel, but we also find two brothers who were each engaging one of the enemies of the people of Israel which were arrayed against them. There is within this narrative a powerful picture of what we find when we think about and consider the census which the living God instructed Moses to take within the congregation of the children of Israel, for undoubtedly there would have been brothers that would have fought alongside brothers, and perhaps even fathers fighting alongside with sons. I would even dare say it was possible that there were multiple generations that were fighting side by side in the battle against the enemies which the armies of Israel faced. When you speak about the instruction the LORD gave unto Moses concerning numbering the armies of Israel and all those who were able to go out for war you must carefully consider the tremendous reality that there would have been brothers who would have fought side by side with brothers, fathers who fought side by side with sons, and perhaps even nephews fighting alongside uncles, and cousins fighting alongside cousins. It’s quite impressive and powerful to think of the sense of community that would and could even be found in the midst of the conflict and struggle. What’s more, is that it is actually quite remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the fact that when Moses numbered the men from each tribe who were twenty years of age and up, he was instructed to do so within each tribe that was represented among the congregation of Israel—a reality which would have undoubtedly pointed to the reality of community, camaraderie and connection in the midst of the conflict and in the midst of the struggle.

The more I think about and read these opening chapters of the Old Testament book of Numbers the more I am confronted with any by this aspect of community that seems to be at the very heart and center of the armies of God. If you truly read these chapters carefully you will quickly realize that the language contained therein is language that describes those who were numbered among the armies of Israel, and how they were numbered from among the twelve tribes of Israel. What’s more, is that not only were they numbered from among the twelve tribes of Israel, but undoubtedly we behold and encounter the reality that there were husbands who were numbered in the armies of God. More than likely there were fathers and sons who were numbered among the armies of Israel and who would have undoubtedly fought side by side with each other. I would even dare say that there might have been different generations that were part of the armies of God—perhaps even grandfathers, fathers and sons who fought side by side in the armies of God. This reality isn’t explained in and through the life of Caleb, however, there is something incredibly my intriguing about the life of Caleb which is found in the Old Testament book of Joshua. If you journey into the Old Testament book of Joshua and read the language concerning the division of the inheritance you will find that Caleb asked for the hill country of Hebron. What is so astounding about the request of Caleb is that his request not only came when he was eighty three years old, but he also asked for the land of the giants. How absolutely remarkable it is to think about the fact that Caleb was four score and three years old, and yet he still professed himself to be as strong and vigorous as he was when he was younger. We dare not miss and lose sight of this reality, for it brings us face to face with the reality that there were various generations which were numbered among the children of Israel when the Lord instructed Moses to number all those twenty years and up from among each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We must acknowledge this concept of community in the armies of Israel, for there were perhaps heads of households, fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, nephews and the like who were numbered among the armies of Israel. It is actually intriguing to think about and consider the fact that what the Lord was doing among the children of Israel at this time during their journey in the wilderness was discover how many men and able bodied men there were among the children of Israel who were able to fight and go out to eat. We must recognize and understand this absolutely incredible truth, for to understand this truth is to come face to face with the reality that the Lord was revealing unto Moses all those who were able to fight the battles of God and engage the enemies of Israel.

As you read the words which are found within these chapters you will come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth that the living God called for the numbering of all those from among the children of Israel who were twenty years of age and up. What’s more, is that the living God also called for all those who were able to go forth to war and all those who were able to go out to battle to be numbered from among the twelve tribes of Israel. Upon continuing to read the opening chapter of the book of Numbers you will find that when the census and count was done there were more than six hundred thousand men numbered from among the children of Israel who were able to go forth go war. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it must have like after the census in the households of the different tribes of Israel as they had been numbered as those who were able to fight. Was there perhaps a certain sense of excitement that permeated the hearts and minds of those who were numbered among the twelve tribes of Israel as they were numbered as those who were able to go out to war? What’s more, is the fact that is it possible that when those who were numbered from among the delve tribes of Israel, there were some who had great enthusiasm and excitement knowing they would be engaged in the battles of God and would fight the enemies of Israel. FIGHTING THE BATTLES OF GOD! FIGHTING AGAINST THE ENEMIES OF ISREAL! I can’t help but encounter and acknowledge the absolutely needful reality that it is possible that there were those who when they were being numbered from among the twelve tribes of Israel boasted of their strength and ability to fight as Caleb did when Joshua was dividing the land of Israel as an inheritance among the children of Israel. I am sure there were those who had perhaps fought against Amalek when he came out against Israel in the wilderness to overthrow and defeat them. Of course we know that Israel won the battle which the children of Amalek raised against them, and that they were soundly defeated in a single day by Joshua and the armies of Israel. I am sure there were those who tasted the battle and as a direct result of tasting the battle in the wilderness wanted more, and wanted to undertake the awesome responsibility of engaging the enemies of Israel and the enemies of God in conflict and battle.

What I find to be so absolutely captivating when reading the words found within the opening chapter of the book of Exodus is that the language we find in this passage speaks of a certain group among and within the twelve tribes of Israel. If you read the words which are found in the opening chapter of this Old Testament book you will find the living God referring to a very specific group of men which were found among the children of Israel—namely, the armies of ISREAL, and the armies of God. Pause for a moment and think about and consider this reality, for it is this reality that directly confronted us with the fact that when the Lord God of the Hebrews delivered and brought them forth from the midst of the land of Egypt, He brought forth the armies of ISREAL—His armies which would enter into the wilderness and would make their way to the land of Canaan where they would enter into the land and dispose of the nations and peoples which were present in the midst of the land. Perhaps one truth that is so alluring when you read and consider the opening chapter of the book of Numbers is that within this chapter we encounter the living God speaking of this group of men which was found present within the children of ISREAL—a group of men which came forth from the land of Egypt and were matching forth in the midst of the wilderness. The reality and concept I speak of is that of the armies of God, and how when the living God called for the men of Israel twenty years of age and up to be numbered from among the twelve tribes He was specifically referring to the armies of ISREAL which were present there in the wilderness. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this absolutely tremendous reality, for this reality speaks to something truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it in terms of the children of israel, for within the twelve tribes of Israel there was another group that would be instrumental in the divine plan and purpose of the living God. I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly captivated by this reality and concept or the armies of God which were found among the children of Israel, for within the midst of the congregation there was a powerful group of people—people who I would dare say didn’t even realize how strong and powerful they are. I would dare say that when you read the words found within these Old Testament books you will encounter the absolutely wonderful reality that there was a group of men and individuals found in the midst of the congregation of Israel that would be divinely used by the living God to accomplish His divine plans and purposes within the earth. There would be this strong and powerful group of individuals which would be numbered from among the congregation as a whole, and would be a group that would be integral in the divine plan and purpose of God—not only in the wilderness, but also upon the children of Israel crossing over the Jordan river and entering into the land of inheritance, promise, possession and blessing.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW STRONG YOU ARE? DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW POWERFUL YOU ARE? These two questions are at the very forefront of my heart and mind as I sit here this morning and think about the words which are found within this opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers. When the living God brought forth the children of Israel out of their slavery, bondage and oppression within the land of Egypt, He didn’t just bring a congregation of people forth from the midst of their slavery and bondage, but He brought forth an army—and not just an army, but the armies of Israel and the armies of God. In fact, even before the children of Israel would begin to witness and behold the plagues and judgments the living God unleashed upon the land of Egypt, the LORD God of the Hebrews would speak unto Moses concerning them, and would speak something very powerful. In the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find and encounter the following words which were written concerning Moses and Aaron and their divine assignment in the land of Egypt. Consider if you will the twenty-sixth verse of the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus and this first mention of this truly powerful people found in the midst of the children of Israel: “These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the LORD said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies” (Exodus 6:26). Here within this particular verse we encounter the very first mention of this group which was found in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel, for in order to understand the children of Israel we must understand and recognize that there was indeed a strong and powerful group which was found in the midst of them—one that was much stronger, one that was much mightier, and one that was more powerful than they could even think, imagine or consider. In fact, if you continue reading in the Old Testament book of Exodus and come to the seventh chapter you will find the following words which were spoken by the LORD God of the Hebrews unto Moses concerning the congregation of the children of Israel: “But Pharaoh shall not hearten unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments” (Exodus 7:4). In the sixth chapter we find Moses writing concerning the deliverance of the the children of Israel according to their armies, and here in the seventh chapter we find the living God speaking unto Moses once more and describing how He would lay His hand upon Egypt, and bring forth his armies, and His people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgment. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely wonderful reality, for it is this reality that helps us understand this great and strong people which were found among the congregation of the children of Israel, and this people which would be so integral and instrumental in the divine plan and purpose of the living God.

If you continue reading in the Old Testament book of Exodus—specifically in the twelfth chapter—you will encounter two additional references within this chapter that describe this wonderfully strong and powerful people which were found in the midst of the children of Israel. In the seventeenth verse when the living God was speaking unto Moses concerning the celebration and observance of the Passover you will find the following words which were spoken concerning this wonderfully powerful group found in the midst of the congregation of Israel: “And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:17). In the fifty-first verse of this chapter you will find the congregation of the children of Israel being delivered and brought forth from the midst of their slavery, bondage and oppression, as well as an incredible description of what took place there within the land of Egypt. In the fifty-first verse of the twelfth chapter you will find the following words which were written by Moses the servant of the LORD: “And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies” (Exodus 12:51). Each of these four references help create and form a truly powerful picture concerning the congregation of the children of Israel—namely, that when the living God brought them forth from the midst of their slavery, bondage and oppression, He didn’t merely bring forth a congregation and people, but He brought forth this congregation according to the armies that were contained within it. ARMIES WITHIN A CONGREGATION! Pause for a moment and think about this reality, for within this reality we find in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel the armies of God—those who would engage the enemies of Israel, and those who would fight the battles of the living God in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for while it is true there might have been a single army as a whole which was found within and among the congregation of the children of Israel, there were individual armies that were found present within and in the midst of this congregation. In fact, if you read the first and opening chapter of the book of Numbers you will find and discover that these armies were none other than the armies which were found among and in the midst of each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Stop and think about the reality that with each tribe from among the congregation of the children of Israel there was an individual army which would be part of a much greater and much stronger army that would engage the enemies of Israel and would fight the battles of God.

As you read the words which are found within the opening chapter of this Old Testament book you will find that once the living God revealed those twelve men—one from each tribe—which would stand beside him during this census, Moses and those with him would begin numbering all those within and among the congregation of Israel who were twenty years of age and up. What you find within this chapter is that the census would take place according to each tribe which was found among the congregation of Israel, and that each tribe produced its own army of able bodied men who were able to go forth to battle. How absolutely remarkable it is to find and discover that from among the congregation of the children of Israel there were twelve tribes which would each produce its own army which would help fight the battles of God and engage the enemy. While there was indeed a total of more than six hundred thousand men who were able to go forth to war—each individual tribe of the congregation of Israel had its own army which it would send forth in battle. This is absolutely amazing when you think about the fact that there were indeed twelve tribes which made up the congregation of Israel, and each tribe produced its own army that would be part of a much larger army that would actually go out to battle and would actually go out to war. Stop for a moment and think about the fact that there were twelve tribes which were found present in the midst of the congregation of Israel, which meant that there were twelve different armies which were found among the congregation of Israel. What’s more, is that when the living God delivered the children of Israel from their slavery, bondage and oppression of Egypt, He brought forth twelve distinct armies which were present in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel. When the congregation of Israel emerged from the land of Egypt and from their slavery, bondage and oppression, they emerged as one unified people, however, in the midst of that unified people there were twelve distinct armies which would be comprised and made up of men who were able to go forth to war. Please don’t miss this, for even before the LORD began executing His judgments upon the land of Egypt He referenced the armies of Israel—a reference which is quite unique when you think about and consider that at that point in time they hadn’t even thought about engaging any enemies, nor fighting any battles. Even before the living God delivered and brought forth the children of Israel forth from the land of Egypt He began calling them by something completely and utterly different from that which they even thought concerning themselves. Before the living God delivered and brought forth the children and congregation of the children of Israel forth from the midst of their slavery, bondage and oppression he began calling them according to their armies which would emerge from the midst of the land of Egypt and would enter into the wilderness. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what this reality would have looked and sounded like to the nations within the land of Canaan, and even among those peoples which were within and round about the wilderness. Imagine what the nations and peoples of the earth thought when news began spreading that there were armies in the wilderness which had a combined total of more than six hundred thousand.

To help put this reality of the armies of Israel into an even greater perspective I would like to take a minute to reference a term that was used when describing the Roman army which would conquer much of the known earth during their appointed time of authority and dominion upon the earth. If you read and study the history of the Roman Empire—specifically the Roman army which was found in the midst of the Roman Empire—your ill find that the Roman Army was made up of different legions which would go out and engage the enemies of Rome in conflict and battle. What’s more, is that when you think about and consider the concept of a Roman legion, you will find that each legion consisted of about ten cohorts with a combined total of five thousand men. If you take this math and line it up against the total number of those able bodied men from among the congregation of Israel you will find that the armies of Israel had a combined total of one hundred and twenty legions. Stop and think about that reality—particularly and especially when you think about how strong and powerful this truly made the children of Israel in the face of their enemies, as well as in the face of those who would rise up against and oppose them. Stop and think about the fact that the armies of God which came up forth from the midst of the land of Egypt were one-hundred and twenty legions, and if each legion contained ten individual cohorts—each cohort would have five hundred men. IF the armies of Israel were sent out into battle and were sent out according to individual cohorts, there would be a total of one thousand cohorts that would march forth against the enemies and adversaries of Israel in battle. What an absolutely incredible thought this is to think about it, for within the armies of Israel—not only was there one hundred and twenty legions, but there would also have been one thousand cohorts comprised and made up of five hundred men. Even if the armies of Israel sent out ten percent of the total legions which made up the army, that would be a total of sixty thousand men who would march out against the enemies and adversaries of Israel in the earth. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely remarkable reality, for it brings us face to face with just how strong and just how powerful the armies of Israel truly were in the sight of the living God. It was indeed true the living God brought forth the congregation of Israel forth from the midst of their slavery, bondage and oppression, however, the living God brought forth more than just a congregation of people from the midst of the land of Egypt—He brought forth the armies of Israel with its legions and cohorts. Oh think about what this reality would and could have looked like if Israel went out to engage an enemy in battle and perhaps didn’t need to send the full army, but perhaps only needed to send out the army of Judah—there would still be fourteen legions which would be sent forth in battle against the enemies of Israel and of the living God.

If you are reading the words found within this writing I would present to you the question of whether or not you understand just how strong and just how powerful the armies of Israel truly were when they came forth from the midst of the land of Egypt. This reality has an even greater meaning when you think about it in terms of an event which would take place later in this Old Testament book as twelve spies would enter into the land of Canaan, and yet of those twelve spies, ten would return unto the congregation of Israel and bring forth a negative report concerning giants in the land, walled cities, and defenses and weapons that were stronger and mightier than they were. Pause and think about for a moment what would and what could have happened on this occasion when the living God instructed the children of Israel to march up into the Promised Land, and yet they were fearful because they felt the nations and peoples within the land were stronger and mightier than thy were. As we will find out within this Old Testament book, the children of Israel would shrink back in fear and would not march up into the land of Canaan, and would again murmur, grumble and complain against Moses. In all reality, I would dare say that what we find within this narrative is a classic example of not realizing and not recognizing how truly strong and truly powerful you are—not in and of yourself, nor in and of your own strength, but rather in the strength and might of the living God. While it might be true that there were twelve armies found within the congregation of Israel, and while it might have been true that there were one hundred and twenty legions of soldiers within the congregation of Israel—none of these armies, nor any of these legions were strong in and of themselves. The armies of Israel—despite its size and strength—would only be as strong as the living God who fought with, fought behind, and fought beside them. There were one hundred and twenty legions of soldiers that were found in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel , and yet those legions, those armies, and those soldiers were only as strong as the God who fought behind and fought beside them. This reality is true of us in this generation, for despite whatever strength and might we think we might possess—we are only as strong as the living God who fights behind and who fights beside us. We dare not boast of our own strength and boast of our own ability as though we have something to brag about, for it was the apostle Paul who declared that he would boast only of his weaknesses and infirmities, for it was the strength of Christ within Him that enabled him to endure the struggles, conflicts and trials he experienced and endured.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I can’t help but be reminded of words which are found within the Old Testament book of Second Samuel, as well as the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Chronicles. If and as you read the words which are found within these two chapters you will find and discover the description of David’s mighty men who would fight alongside, behind and with him in the battles against the enemies of the children of Israel. I am convinced that any discussion we have concerning the armies of Israel and their being numbered from among the congregation of Israel, we must consider the language that is found concerning the mighty men of Israel, for it helps reveal the reality of just how strong the armies of God truly were in the midst of the battles and conflicts they faced and endured within and upon the earth. Consider if you will the words which are found within the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Samuel and the description of David’s mighty men which fought with him in the midst of the battle:

“These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. And after him was Eleazer the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away: He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil. And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory. And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim. And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! And the three mighty men break through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men. And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three. Was he not most honourable of three? Therefore he was their captain: however he attained not unto the first three. And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow: and he slew an Egyptians, a goodly man: and the Egyptians had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men. He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard” (2 Samuel 23:8-23).

“And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war, and came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD. The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war. Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred. Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred. And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand seven hundred; and Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father’s house twenty and two captains. And of the children of Benjamin, the kindred of Saul, three thousand: for hitherto the greatest part of them had kept the ward of the house of Saul. And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers. And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king. And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart. And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand. And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand and six hundred. And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand. And on the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, an hundred and twenty thousand. All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of israel were of one heart to make David king. And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them. Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly: for there was joy in Israel” (1 Chronicles 12:23-40).

I close this writing with the same question which I asked previously—namely, do you realize how strong and powerful you are. If you return to the twenty-sixth chapter of the book of Leviticus you will find the living God speaking unto the children of Israel that if they walked in obedience before Him they would chase their enemies, and they would fall before them by the sword. What’s more, is that the LORD also went on to reveal how five of them would chase an hundred, and an hundred of them would put ten thousand to flight. Now, take that math and line it up with one hundred and twenty thousand legions from among the armies of Israel, and one thousand two hundred cohorts from among the armies of Israel. Think about and consider just how many the children of Israel could put to flight if the math in Leviticus lines up, as five would put to flight one hundred, and one hundred would put to flight ten thousand. I wrote earlier that you are only as strong as the living God who fights behind and fights beside you, but I would also declare unto you that you are only as strong as your obedience before and unto the living God. The LORD made it very clear that their victory over the enemies was intrinsically linked and connected to their enemies, which means that if their armies walked in obedience before and unto the living God, there was no stopping their victory of their enemies and adversaries. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand this reality, for we are stronger and more powerful than we think, however, we must recognize that we are only as strong as the God who fights beside and behind us, and as our obedience which we exercise toward Him.

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