Spiritual Warfare in the Book of Numbers -- By: Chuck Huckaby

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:1 (Winter 1995)
Article: Spiritual Warfare in the Book of Numbers
Author: Chuck Huckaby


Spiritual Warfare in the Book of Numbers

Chuck Huckaby

Spiritual Warfare as a subject for Christian reflection is not often associated with prolonged biblical exposition of any text, let alone a consideration of the book of Numbers. Rarer still is a discussion of spiritual warfare in connection with Numbers chapters one and twenty-six, the census passages. What passes for Christian teaching about confronting the forces of evil on the bookshelves most accessible to our fellow Christians and what the Bible actually teaches are often two entirely different things. When solid pastors fail to wrestle with the struggles of their congregations and declare the truth in liberating and practical ways, charlatans and novices rush in to fill the void with dangerous results. This reflection on the book of Numbers is an attempt to biblically ground our understanding of spiritual warfare in this reality: In the midst of spiritual warfare, God’s covenant faithfulness is the source of our hope and strength.

Numbers begins abruptly with God speaking to Moses in the tabernacle commanding a census to be taken of the men over age twenty in each tribe who are able to go out to war. With a meticulous detail that numbs the Western mind, each family is called forth and the warriors numbered from every family except that of the Levites with amazing results: The warriors alone number 603,550.

The point of this exercise is a multifaceted confirmation of the Lord’s covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 15, God walks through the severed bodies of the sacrificial animals to swear that if His promise to make Abraham the father of kings and a great nation goes unfulfilled, may the Lord Himself be severed as were these animals. Here on the plains of the wilderness, as the warriors step forward to be counted, God’s faithfulness is triumphantly vindicated. Though Abraham saw the initial fulfillment of God’s promise through the birth of Isaac, here God demonstrates that His promise to Abraham has been fulfilled thousands of times over in each tribe, not to mention the nation as a whole.

The results of this accounting underline the compounding effect of God’s mercy as it ultimately triumphs over sin and evil in history. In Exodus 20:5–6 we read, “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” We evangelicals are often so preoccupied with explaining why God would visit iniquity to the third or fourth generation, that we neglect ...

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