The world population clock tells us that there are 8 billion people in the world today. The growth rate is about 67 million every year. Living in a world with so many people, it is easy to get lost and feel very insignificant. The Bible gives us God’s perspective on people, which alleviates the idea that so many people make the individual insignificant. The first census that Moses takes in the wilderness begins with the clan of Reuben. Reuben was Leah’s son and the firstborn of the twelve patriarchs. Numbers 1:20-21 tells us, “The people of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, head by head, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go to war: those listed of the tribe of Reuben were 46,500.” The first observation from the census’ directions is the focus on each individual. God cares for people. God cares for individuals, and just as He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, he knows the struggles and sufferings of every human being, in the womb and out! The message from the numbering and naming of the Israelites that came out of Egypt has another application also.

It is a vivid illustration that God is faithful to keep His promise to people. I know that 45 thousand isn’t a lot in comparison to the current population, but this number represents only the children of one man: Reuben. The number was also taken only as s census of men who have reached adulthood and are capable of going to war. This was important because Israel was about to go to war to secure the land that God had given them as an inheritance. I imagine that there were four times as many people in the tribe as there were men of that age. Also, remember that this count was done, in my estimation, about 4000 years ago.

Now, hundreds of years earlier, God promised Abraham that he would become a great nation and that there would have more descendants than there are grains of sand on the beach or stars in the sky. The estimated number of grains of sand on Earth is around 7.5 x 10^18 (7.5 quintillion). How many stars are there? The exact number of stars in the universe is impossible to know, but astronomers estimate that there are about 200 billion trillion stars in the observable universeThis number is so big that it is hard to imagine. In our own galaxy, the Milky Way, there are about 300 billion starsStars are the building blocks of galaxies, and there are billions of galaxies in the universe.

Censuses are important because it reveals God’s care for each human life.  God insists that Moses count the children of Reuben “head by head.” That means everyone counted. Rick Warren expresses how much you and I matter to God. If you want to know how much you matter to God, he directs our attention to Isaiah 44:2, which says, “I am your Creator. You were in My care even before you were born.” God scheduled each day of your life before you ever took a breath. Every day of your life is recorded in God’s book. “That’s how much you matter to God.  Do you matter? – Yes.  He made you.  He made you to love you, and the Bible says you do matter.  He sees everything in your life, the good, the bad, and everything in between.  You do matter to Him.”[1] God numbered them “head by head” to be sure to communicate that everyone mattered to God. After a major battle, Napoleon wrote to his wife, Marie Louise, that he had won a great victory. Then he added, “We lost no one of importance.” He lost hundreds, even thousands, of men—but they were of no importance to him. You can be assured they were important to God, however. He cared enough about them—and about you—to give the Son of His love so that all could be saved.[2]

[1] Warren, Rick. n.d. 40 Days of Purpose Series.

[2] Stone, Sam E. 1995. Sermon Outlines on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. Edited by Sam E. Stone. Standard Sermon Starters. Cincinnati, OH: Standard.