What’s The Importance of Census in The Bible?

 Video Transcript

So, we understand some of these connections when it comes to genealogies but when it comes to lists for example, you wonder why does God wants us to know how many people are there? Who has ever read Psalm 136 and saw how many verses for his love endures forever? How many verses? 26 verses for his love endures forever and by time you get to the middle, you’re just mumbling for his love endures forever and completing in your head. Now if you allow yourself to read his love endures forever 26 times, you will become, I would say, saturated with the idea and the knowledge that God’s love endures forever, at least someone thinks so much of God’s love that he says it 26 times. 


When you allow yourself go through the book of Numbers, and Numbers is where you see a lot of these family lists, the idea that God wants to saturate you with is one of his faithfulness, one in which from Abraham who’s given this great promise that ends in Jesus and the blessing to the whole universe, to Jacob, and then to now seeing how that family has expanded, you’re able to see without someone saying this is really important, that God is faithful and he’s going family by family. The other thing it does for you is that after going through that list, you do not think of the Bible as a fairy tale. Do you understand? You cannot get a sense that someone made up this religion and just sort of couple things together. This is tedium in the way you see it. When I say tedium, somebody is painstakingly recording actual truth, history, facts not fairy tales and those are the two best reasons I can give and then much later on as you, maybe if you become a student of the Bible, you might actually see how these families then make up these tribes, how one becomes bigger than the other, why some of them are given greater land than another. Why some did not cross the Jordan, you actually start to see some of those threads from those individual lists. So, hard as it may be, everybody we’ve all done it, skipping, mumbling in your mind. Afterward you say, I’m going to take a deep breath, it’s not every month I read numbers, I’m going to take a deep breath and I’m going to let God’s word saturate me. I’m going to read this list and I’m going to marvel at the names. Sometimes maybe check what their names mean and if you have a good Bible, maybe they’ll even link some of those family lists to other parts of the Bible that can help you jump around but those two things are critical I would say. 


Just to underscore what Yemi says, so sometimes it’s that larger picture. I was just looking at Nehemiah 7 and from verse 8 you just have  

8 the descendants of Parosh  2,172 
9 of Shephatiah  372 
10 of Arah  652 
11 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab)   2,818 


 And he’s saying through the line of Jeshua and Joab because there’s another Pahath-Moab through the line of James. It’s like when we say, are you Adegoke of Iremo or Ogbomoso. So, he’s saying here through the line of Jeshua and Joab 2,818. 

Why? Again, I don’t think the exact number matters for us, but it tells you in verse 6:  

6 These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, 

And even before this in verse 5, it says:

  5 So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there:  

So, there was a sense in which they had gone to exile and they’re now returning. How do we know that you’re a true Israelite? The genealogical record. And now they are now recording the ones of the people that were present so that later somebody will not say, no, you can’t say I wasn’t part of this people even though it was my great great grandfather. So does each line find a meaning to us not in a sense, but the larger scope of the theme of God’s faithfulness of keeping this line of lsreal, this Judah line.  


I like reading the book of kings. You know one of the great things you see in the book of kings, if you look at the northern kingdom, most of the genealogies of kings did not last more than three generations before another supplanter would come. Go and read Judah, always a king in line of David. Always. Never ever was taken even when Attaliah killed everyone, there was Joash that she didn’t know that was six. Why? Because God had made a promise to David that he would always have someone sit on his throne. So even as you are reading the book of kings and you’re just looking at this person succeeded this person, you see faithfulness in that regard. Some of the other things are just facts, like at the end of the day when the 10 tribes went, who were the two tribes that are left? Judah and Benjamin. Why is this important? So that you know the Bible was actually written with facts. Here’s one thing, for instance, Paul says that he’s a Jew, isn’t he? But he says I am of the tribe of what? Benjamin. So, you know, okay that makes sense because there’s only these two tribes. You hardly find anyone that is saying, in the New Testament, I am of the tribe of Issachar.  So, the fact and the history is a record of the faithfulness of God and the promises of God. 


Answered by Yemi Osinubi, leader at City Church Lagos and Femi Osunuyi, Lead Pastor at City Church, Lagos 


info@citychurchlagos.com, +2349076700860