God's people are being called on to maturity. This is the significance of the phrase, "at least twenty years old" (Numbers 26:2,4). There are, however, many dangers. We are easily sidetracked - putting other "gods" before the Lord our God (Numbers 25:3). This turning away from the Lord is a serious matter, leading to the withdrawal of God's blessing. We can, however, continue to enjoy the Lord's blessing if, like Caleb and Joshua, we are men and women of faith (Numbers 26:64-65).
Joshua was to lead the people beyond the point to which Moses had led them. Joshua was chosen and empowered by God. Reading the story of God's people, from one generation to another, we find that the names change - but the Lord remains the same. Moses played his part. Joshua played his part. At every point in the story, God is there, upholding His servants in every generation.
The people of Israel were given an extremely elaborate and detailed description of the sacrifices they were to bring to God. We no longer need to to bring such sacrifices to God. God Himself has provided the perfect Sacrifice. The Son of God has given Himself for us. He has put away our sin by the Sacrifice of Himself. We must focus our exclusive attention on Him.
In the various areas of life - -personal faithfulness (chapter 30), our relationship with the world (chapter 31), our relationship with the Lord's people (chapter 32), there is one thing which is of the utmost importance: "we will do as the Lord has said" (Numbers 32:31). This is the most important thing: obedience to God.
Much of what we have here is geographical. There is also, however, a spiritual dimension. God is leading His people to their new land, the land He had promised to them. In all the names of the places, we must see the hand of God directing His people according to His perfect plan. In God's "place", the "place" of His blessing, there must be nothing that hinders true worship of the Lord (Numbers 33:52).
The whole of life is to be arranged according to God's perfect plan. This principle underlies all the detailed instructions given here. We see it, first, in Numbers 35:1 - "The Lord spoke to Moses ... " It is repeated in Numbers 35:9 - "The Lord said to Moses ... " It is emphasized in Numbers 36:5-6 - "So Moses gave the Israelites a command from the Lord ... This is what the Lord commands ... " It is seen in the response of "Zelophedad's daugthers" who "did as the Lord commanded Moses." It is found in the concluding verse of the book of Numbers: "These are the commands and rules the Lord gave the Israelites ... " (Numbers 36:13). Life may be very different today. Still, the spiritual principle remains the same: Our life is to be lived according to the teaching of God's Word.