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Overview of Numbers - Outline

Author: The author of the book of Numbers is Moses. This is the fourth book of the Pentateuch.

Date: Numbers summarizes Israel’s journey from Mount Sinai to the borders of the Promised Land. This summary is around 40 years of the nation of Israel’s history, which likely falls around the years of 1440 t0 1406 B.C.

The Purpose: The book of numbers shows us the gradual fulfillment to Abraham that his children would be the people of God that would eventually occupy the land of Canaan. We see God’s presence is within the book as the pillar of the cloud and the fire over the tabernacle, while also showing that Israel’s unbelief delays the entry into the Promised land which costs many lives. Through it all, God has prepared his people to enter the land by the end of the book.


The book of Numbers can be broken down into three times in the wilderness and two travel passages in between.

The Wilderness of Sinai (ch.1-10) —> Traveling (ch. 10-12) —>The Wilderness of Paran (ch.13-19)—> Traveling (ch.20-21)—>The wilderness of Moab (ch.22-36)

  1. Israel prepares to enter the Land (ch.1-10)

A. The first Census

B. Responsibilities of the Levites

C. Two Census of the Levites

D. Census of the mature Levites and multiple tasks of different priests

E. Cleansing of the camp. (Excluding the unclean, perjury, adultery, summary of the law)

F. Offerings for the tabernacle (ch.7 shows how other tribes helped support Levites and priests)

G. The Placing of the Seven Lampstands (Designed to show God’s ongoing favor to bless the people of Israel)

H. Dedication of the Levites

I. Retirement of the Levites (served from 25 years of age to 50)

J. The Inaugural celebration of the passover

K. Following God’s presence through the visible evidence of the cloud

L. The Silver Trumpets (gave order to which tribe should set out for the promise land)

  1. Traveling from Sinai to Paran (ch.10 - 12)


A. Israel begins to complain of missing Egypt & food

B. Moses is appointed elders to carry the burden

C. God sends Quail and a plague

Ch. 12

A. Miriam and Aaron openly oppose Moses’s leadership

B. Miriam is struck with leopourcy and eventually healed after repentance

  1. The Wilderness of Paran (ch. 13-19)

Ch. 13

A. Moses sends out the 12 spies

B. Spies Report their mission

C. The people panic and long for Egypt and safety

Ch. 14

A. Moses intercedes for Israel’s unfaithfulness

B. The 10 unfaithful spies die from plague

Chapter 15

A. Additional sacrifice procedures

Chapter 16

A. The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram

B. The death of the ringleaders and their families

C. Aaron intercedes for unfaithful Israel

D. Aaron’s staff blossomed

  1. Traveling from Paran to Moab (ch. 20-21)

Chapter 20

A. The Fall of Moses

B. The death of Aaron

Chapter 21

A. The first victory of the Canaanites

B. The Bronze Snake

  1. The Wilderness of Moab (22-36)

Chapter 22-24

A. Balak, Balaam, and Israel

B. King Balak summons Balaam

C. Balaam denies and then accepts invitation

D. The Donkey and the Angel

E. Balaam blesses Israel three times

Chapter 26-36

A. The next census ch.26

B. Joshua commission as Moses’s successor ch.27

C. The summary of Israels journey from Egypt to Canaan ch.33

D. Borders, lands, cities for Levites, and cities for refuge ch.34&35

E. Marriage amongst female heirs in Israel. ch.36

Redemptive history & Gospel Undertones

  1. God Affirms his leadership & we need an intercessor to be amongst a holy God

Numbers 17:8

The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.

  1. Jesus is the greater Moses

Hebrews 3:1-3

Fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.

  1. From the burden of Israel to the burden of the world.

Galatians 3:8

The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.'

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