Numbers 1:1-54

Daybreak for Students

Numbers 1:1-54

Numbers 1
But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle. — Numbers 1:50

I looked out over a sea of raised hands, and listened to a cacophony of shouting voices.

“Choose me, Miss Lambert! Please!”

“No, don’t choose him! Choose me!”

“You chose her last time! I want a turn!”

There was a job to be done, and everyone in the class wanted to do it. As I looked around the room, I was searching for a student with specific qualities. I wanted someone I could trust to behave responsibly, do the job well, and return to the classroom without disrupting the other students. I knew each of my students well enough to determine who was best suited for the job at hand. I considered each one, and chose a student who was sitting quietly with his hand raised. Unlike the rest of my noisy bunch, he was showing that he was responsible enough to trust me to choose.

In the Book of Numbers, we see that God chose specific people for each position that needed to be filled. Maybe some of those men did not feel capable of leading an army. Maybe some of the Levites felt under-qualified for the special holiness required for their job. It did not matter how they felt; God knew what each one could do with His help.

In the same way, God knows all of His children today. He knows what calling we are best suited to do. As our Creator, He has given each of us the qualities that we will need in order to do His will. Sometimes we do not feel like we are capable of doing what God calls us to do. That’s when it gets exciting! It is in those times, when we do not trust ourselves, that we must learn what trusting in God really means.


At the beginning of the Book of Numbers, the Israelites were just beginning their forty years of wandering in the desert. Because of disobedience, God had excluded all of the people from twenty years of age and older from seeing the Promised Land. Over a forty-year time period, the disobedient generation died and the younger generation replaced them. During those years, the Israelites were transformed from a large band of nomads into a great nation. With nationhood came increased need for organization, government, and military service. The Book of Numbers serves primarily as a record of the census and some of the laws and organization of the nation of Israel.

In the opening chapter of Numbers, God directed Moses to take a census of all of the families of the Children of Israel. He was told to count all of the men by their tribal lineage. The main purpose of this census count was to determine who was eligible for military service. However, by naming each individual family, the census list highlights the fact that each individual was important to God’s service. The details of the census even named which family members were to lead each tribe in battle, and specified where they were to pitch their tents when they were in camp.

One tribe, Levi, was not to be included in the count for military service because they were set aside to be the caretakers of the Tabernacle. Their duties involved putting up and taking down the Tabernacle every time the camp was moved, and caring for all of the items used in worship. This duty was not to be taken lightly. The Levites alone were consecrated for this special service.


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

I.   The preparation for the journey from Sinai
     A.   The census and arrangement of Israel’s men of war
           1.   The numbering of Israel’s men of war (1:1-54)
                 a.   The command (1:1-19)
                        (1)   The declaration (1:1-4)
                        (2)   The assistants (1:5-16)
                        (3)   The registration (1:17-19)
                 b.   The census (1:20-46)
                        (1)   Reuben (1:20-21)
                        (2)   Simeon (1:22-23)
                        (3)   Gad (1:24-25)
                        (4)   Judah (1:26-27)
                        (5)   Issachar (1:28-29)
                        (6)   Zebulun (1:30-31)
                        (7)   Joseph (1:32-33)
                        (8)   Manasseh (1:34-35)
                        (9)   Benjamin (1:36-37)
                        (10)   Dan (1:38-39)
                        (11)   Asher (1:40-41)
                        (12)   Naphtali (1:42-43)
                        (13)   Summary (1:44-46)
                 c.   The Levites (1:47-54)


  1. How many tribes were counted, and how were they listed?

  2. Why do you suppose God wanted the Levites to be set apart to care for the Tabernacle? What reasons might God have had for excluding them from military service?

  3. Just as God chose individuals for each job among the Children of Israel, He also has a specific plan for each of us. How can you be sure of His calling for you? How can you be ready to serve when you are needed?


As followers of Jesus, our greatest desire should be to be used by the Lord. We must simply be ready for His call.

Use me, Lord for thy glory,
Use me, only use me,
If to go or stay I would tell love’s story
Use me, Lord, O use me.

– Austin Miles