I wondered out loud to my husband why God had Israel do a task like that. An inventory of all the men? Couldn’t he just tell Moses how many soldiers he had? “Hey, you have 603,550 eligible soldiers to take into battle. Here’s how you should divide them up…”?
My husband spoke to the logistical benefits of a list like that. The order it would bring to sending out soldiers would provide some intention behind each battle, instead of masses of unnamed men taking off. But still, why couldn’t God just rattle off the data to Moses and Aaron and save them the headache and a day’s work? Shrugging, he responded “because it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t do it ourselves”.
God brings so much order and intention to our lives, and nothing is in vain. I’m a pretty Type B person, and usually like to wiggle out of handling tedious logistics. Handling a census seems like such a nightmare to me! But I love that counting people, one by one, name by name, is actually holy work. It will provide practical data that will be repeatedly referenced. It will help sort out who leaves, and who makes it back. And it will recognize who doesn’t.
Take a minute and reflect on the things in your life that need order. Can you see God’s purpose or hand in it? It helps me engage a little bit if I see the value of a task, so I don’t feel like a hamster in a wheel. Look for the intention! It’s there.