The book is called “Numbers” for a reason – lots of numbers and lots of names, many of which I have difficulty pronouncing. But, what’s in a name? A name provides identity and a sense of belonging. Imagine growing up in ancient Israel and reading the name of your great, great, great grandfather in the Bible. What a sense of pride and connection that would bring.
Growing up, I didn’t like my name; I wanted one that was more common. I guess I could be glad that I didn’t have a name like Zurishaddai (Numbers 1:6). But, names have meaning, and Zurishaddai means “The Almighty is a rock”. The name would be a continual reminder of God’s strength, stability, and protection.
Jesus, the cornerstone (i.e., the rock) on whom we can build our lives, also referred to himself as the good shepherd (John 10:11), and to us as sheep. He said in John 10:3, “the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” He knows us individually and cares deeply about us. In fact, Jesus said in Luke 12:7 that, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered”, which brings us back to Numbers.
The bottom line: People are important to God. He calls us not simply to be a number in His kingdom, but to belong in His family as His dearly loved children and have an intimate relationship with Him and with others.