Devotionals Archive

Daybreak: Numbers 26:1-65

Jan 03, 2021

“To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him.” (Numbers 26:54)

In the early history of Canada, the provincial government periodically had the municipalities number their residents. It was a governmental policy to grant money to areas based on the number of residents living within the boundaries of that community, town, or city. The larger the population, the greater the grant; conversely, the smaller the population, the smaller the grant. Could it be that the idea originated from the time when the Children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land? As we read in our text, they were numbered so that their inheritance could be divided according to how many people were in each tribe.

Today, as Christians, we are heading for our Promised Land — Heaven. It will be rewarding to be counted in the number who endure and enter in. Each of us can qualify for an inheritance there. In that Promised Land, the rewards will not be divided according to certain tribes or groups.

Perhaps you feel that if the Christians in your school, workplace, or neighborhood were numbered, the count would be one — you! Maybe you look at your fellow employees or students and realize that although your work or classes may cause you to spend a great deal of time with them, you do not fit in because you are a Christian. Perhaps no one else in your family is serving God. One young woman who was kept out of church when she was a teenager would have a private church service in her bedroom, and God would meet her there. Even if you are alone in standing for God, you can receive a reward if you do your best to live for Him.

Let us be like Joshua and Caleb, and be among those who were numbered when starting out and among those who were numbered when entering the Promised Land. If we contemplate what the inheritance will be for those who make it to the end, we can understand why the songwriter wrote, “Lord, I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in.”


After wandering in the wilderness for nearly forty years, the Children of Israel were about to enter the land of Canaan — the Promised Land. In today’s text we read that Moses and Eleazar were commanded to take the sum of the Israelites in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho. The first year after the Children of Israel came out of Egypt, they were numbered at Mount Sinai (Numbers 1 and 2), so this was the second census that God had commanded to be taken. The purpose for the census at this point was to preserve the distinction in families, to regulate the tribes prior to their entry into the Promised Land, and to ascertain the portion of land that should be allotted to each tribe. Although the whole land was divided by lot, God ordained that the portions that went to large tribes were larger inheritances. 

Moses waited to number the people until God commanded him to do so. God instructed Moses and Eleazar to use the same rule that they had used in the former numbering, counting only those who were able to go forth to war — the men who were twenty years of age and older.

In the census, a register of the tribes and families was taken, with the number and sum of each, and the sum total of all. This count showed an overall decrease of 1,820 from the previous census. That in itself was a miracle. The whole adult population of the nation, except Joshua and Caleb, had died during the forty years in the wilderness because of their disobedience and unbelief, yet the number of the adult population at this time was close to what it had been at the start.

The tribe of Levi was to have no inheritance with the rest of Israel in the land of Canaan, and therefore that tribe was numbered by itself. Specific instructions were given in other chapters for how cities and land were to be allotted to this tribe. As seen so often before, God’s attention to detail was manifested in the counting of the people and His instructions regarding land allotment.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)

III.    Events on the plain of Moab
    B.    The preparation for entering Canaan
        1.    The second census (26:1-65)
            a.    Of the congregation (26:1-57)
                (1)    The command (26:1-4)
                (2)    The census (26:5-50)
                (3)    The totals (26:51)
                (4)    The inheritance (26:52-57)
            b.    Of the Levites (26:58-62)
            c.    The conclusion (26:63-65)

A Closer Look

  1. Why was it so important to have the census taken for each tribe, rather than just finding a total of all the Israelites?
  2. Although their parents had all died in the wilderness, this generation of Israelites was anticipating an entrance into the Promised Land. What do you think kept that hope alive in their hearts as they grew from childhood to adulthood?
  3. Sometimes we may feel as though it will take a lot of marching before we get to Heaven. What can we do to keep that hope alive in our hearts?


The Promised Land was divided by lot to the believing Israelites. God determined the inheritance as He saw best. None of the people had any claim on or right to it, except as God gave it to them. The Kingdom of Heaven is given by the good will of God to those who have repented, believed, and obeyed Him. Will you be counted in that number?

Reference Materials