Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one...

Numbers 1:2-4

Reading: Genesis 22:17, Deuteronomy 7:7-9

I bet you can remember a time when your parents promised you something – and then let you down! We’re quick to make promises, aren’t we? But we’re not always able to fulfill those promises. Not so with the Lord.

God did not just call His people to meet Him at Mount Sinai so that He could give them His law; He also called them together to be counted. The leaders of every tribe assisted in this census and a list was made of every man, twenty years old or older, who was able to serve in the army. Aha! So that was why God wanted the people counted, in order to know what size army could be mustered for the military invasion of the land of Canaan? Not actually.

Yes, the fighting men of Israel were found to number 600 000 – but more than that, the Lord was found to a Promise-Keeping God. God had promised that He would multiply the descendants of Abraham so that they would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand grains on the seashore. At this time of counting, God’s promise was seen to be fulfilled.

God is not like a man who is unwilling or unable to keep His promises. He is both willing and able to bring to pass every promise that He has given you. So I want you to be encouraged and strengthened today – but also, to see another lesson that this story teaches us.

This story serves as a reminder of what it takes to see the Word of God come to pass. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all had wife’s who were not able to have children but each one of them persevered in faith, holding on to God’s promises in spite of the ‘facts’ that stared them in the face.


Thank You that You keep Your promises. I ask You to remind me of the promises that You have given to me as I seek to take them to heart.

For the family

Today, do a little arithmetic with your children and help them to count how many people came out of Egypt and met with God at Mt Sinai.

1. Go and have a look at Number 1. Help your children to write down all the individual tribal lists of numbers.

2. Now help them to add up all those numbers.

3. Once you have your total, challenge your children to figure out how many people there might have been in total. Did these men who were counted have wives? Children?

Work through this together and come up with a probably total number of people camping around Mt Sinai. Take this as far as you want to – for example:

How many litres of water would they have needed every day?