Numbers 3:40-51 Exchange

No payment due because no other would do.

God has Moses count all the firstborn in the camp from one month old upward. Their numbers come in very close to the number of the Levites.

The last time we were together we looked at the numbering of the Levites. I pointed out a discrepancy in the math that brought their total to 300 less than Moses final tally. I discussed that God must have had some reason for this difference. One possible explanation I thought of was the mixing of the three lines.

Today God has Moses count a different group of people. This time the count is SPECIFIC, down to the very last person. This is the most precise number in ALL the groups. With as many people as were counted in all the other tribes it’s hard to fathom that they all ended up being even or round numbers. Only 1 tribe had a number that didn’t end with a full 100. Gad’s number ended with a 50. This time the number ends in a precise number; 22,273.

IF the math for the Levites count would have matched up the first born number would have come in 27 under the number of Levites. But instead it comes in 273 over the number Moses gave for the Levites. I KNOW God has good reason for this but the accountant in me cringes at it.

Ok. Let’s leave the math behind. I’m getting nowhere with reconciling it or understanding why. This is definitely a bench question for me! Let’s move onto the meat of this message. Why did God have Moses number the two groups? Why did He ensure that the second number was reported as the larger? What was He trying to tell the people?

God, as Creator of the universe, has the right to demand ANYTHING He wants and get it. Period. End of discussion. But He doesn’t do that. Instead He gave us free will to choose to love Him and to serve Him. With Israel He gave them a choice too. From Abraham on down, He offered them a “deal.” “If you will… then I will…” They said YES. They wanted what He had to offer and were willing to agree to the “price” He required in order to receive it. Also when He entered into this covenant He bound Himself to it regardless if they kept their portion. But He gave them “incentives” an “corrective measures” when they didn’t.

So in the covenant God said that “Consecrate to Me every firstborn male. The firstborn from every womb among the Israelites belongs to Me, both of man and beast” (Exodus 13:2). He could have rightly enforced this. The people had agreed to His decrees. But instead He chose one of the tribes as His own. He chose the one tribe that came the closest in number too.

I’m sure Moses and the people had no idea where God was going when He started numbering the people, but He did. God needed to show them how one could substitute for the many. He set the stage for Jesus’ substitution. The tribe of Levi and their livestock paid the price for the nation of Israel and its livestock.

God put His finger on the scales in this instance to ensure there would be a deficit so the people would see they came up short and have to do something to “balance the books” with God. They had to give to the Levites, and ultimately Him, the redemption price for those extra 273 males. They needed to know there was a cost for redemption.

This cost was nothing compared to the cost God would pay later on through His Son Jesus. When the time came to balance the books, Jesus’ sacrifice outweighed ALL that was on the other side. There was no remainder that man needed to make up. There is no shortage. In fact the numbers are the other way. There is an overage in Jesus’ payment. He has room for more to come and put their personal price on the other side of the scale. NOTHING is left owing for those who are willing to accept Him as their personal Redeemer, Savior and Lord.

Father God my mouth literally dropped open when You showed me the substitution equation. The one for many line fell directly from Your Holy Spirit! I was nowhere near understanding “Your math” until then. Thank You for letting me in on Your process. Thank You for entering into this process with man in the first place. You brought us along one baby step at a time until You were ready for the big reveal. I can’t wait to see what other surprises You have in store for me and for Your children in general. What secrets does the future hold that You are just now hinting at and drawing us to?

“Patience My dear. Patience. When the time is right, you will know it.”


I’m sure others are looking at my “ah ha” moment and thinking , “Duh; it took you that long to see it”, but thank You for it for ME today. And thank You that I am CERTAIN there are many more of those moments to come for ALL of us.

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