The College & 20s Group is in the midst of the series through the first 5 books of the Bible. We’re trying to see the big picture of this section of the Bible, seeing how these books are a unity and also form the beginning of the gospel-story of the Bible and the world. For those in this group, feel free to spend some time in Numbers in preparation for Sunday.
Here’s a helpful section from William Dumbrell’s, The Faith of Israel, that points toward some of the reasons why the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) is so important for understanding the rest of the Bible and the gospel.
Israel presented her revelation in terms of Law, Prophets, and Writings, the order in which her faith was informed. The Pentateuch – the Law – embraces the first five books of the Old Testament and contains the substance of Israel’s gospel. God, who created the world with a New Creation in ultimate view, to be achieved ideally by human cooperation, had given Israel a model in the Eden narrative of what the world was to be. Dominion, in terms of service to God’s creation, needed to be exercised over the world outside the garden. Within this dominion, the model of Genesis 2 was extended over all creation. The failure of representative humanity to rise to this task in Genesis 3 meant the call of Israel as the world’s evangelist; Israel would be the nation calling the world to the new model of God’s government. This was to happen as Israel endorsed kingdom-of-God values in her Promised Land, the new Eden.
And regarding the individual books:
The first five books of the Old Testament – the Pentateuch – are intended to highlight this concept. This is the gospel message of the Old Testament, operating the same way within its canon as the Gospels do within the New Testament.
Genesis and Exodus document the movement from creation through the fall, to the call of Abraham to Israel and Sinai. Leviticus adds institutions and regulation s by which the Promised Land is to be maintained, and within which life within the covenant may continue.
Numbers records the journey through the wilderness, the death of one Israel and the birth of another.
The incomparable Deuteronomy, by a further covenant in the plains of Moab (Deut 29-30), regulates the details for life in the Promised Land and also encapsulates the gospel. The Gospel is one of national security and God’s blessing for Israel in the Promised Land. This makes Deuteronomy a comparable product in the Old Testament to John’s Gospel, with its message of life in God’s new world in the New Creation.