A New Census

Peggy Byland

Read: Numbers 26

Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel . . . (v. 2)

According to the 2010 census, DeTour Village, Michigan, is home to 325 people; half its population of 1960 and much less than half of its lumber boom census in 1900–1910. At the turn of the century, DeTour was a thriving, bustling mill town with commerce coming and going by water. Once a Native American outpost, Canadians, French, English, Irish, and Scotch stayed when the lumber was gone, and the mills were burned or abandoned.

For those who study genealogy, census numbers and historical context are important pieces of information. From facts and figures, people extrapolate information about past generations, which can more clearly define who they were and who we are today.

God ordered a census in Israel after the generation of Israelites died who refused to conquer the land of Canaan. They had rebelled in unbelief instead of trusting God. A military census was taken of the “new generation” that would live to conquer the promised land. Apportions of land, based on the size of each of the twelve tribes, were passed from father to son or daughter, while other direct descendants were given land farther removed.

The Old Testament’s lists, numbers, and names provide structure to the Scriptures that follow: all names leading to the name of all names—Jesus of Nazareth. —Peggy Byland

As you pray, ask God to teach you to honor those who laid the spiritual foundation for generations to come.