I guess Paul Harvey isn’t a household name any more, but growing up – not that long ago mind you, his “Rest of the Story” was one of the highlights of my day. He had a way of telling a story about a familiar event or famous person, while withholding a vital piece of the puzzle, like the identity of the person for example. After painting a vivid picture of something you’re sure you’d never heard of before, he’d reveal that last piece of information, leaving the listener in awe as he signed off with his characteristic, “And now you know… the rest of the story!”

Now let’s be honest, Numbers 26 isn’t very exciting. It’s 65 verses of genealogy. As much as we might try to guilt ourselves into appreciating each number and name, unless you really know these people, it’s boring. But nestled into this otherwise dull list of names are several side notes that remind us of some pretty amazing stories!

There are more details than I’ll take time to share here, that was done over the course of the sermon – which you can hear below. In short, we have the children of Korah (vs11) who will forever be associated with their father, Dathan, and Abiram, an ominous trio of rebels who were swallowed up by the earth! Tell me that doesn’t effect your life going forward! In the list of the tribe of Judah, we are reminded that Judah started with three sons, but the Lord killed two of them. And he still winds up with three sons! The story behind that one (found in Genesis 38) is a classic skeleton in the family closet! It would’ve been easy to gloss over it, but the writer makes a point to mention it. Finally there is the matter of Zelophehad, and his five daughters. Through no fault of anyone, his family will lose their inheritance because he has no sons. More specifically for them, they will not have a part in God’s Promise. 

These are all serious issues! Any one of these scenarios would be devastating if you or I were the ones involved. No doubt we’d be tempted to roll over and quit, marinate in some self-pity, and just embrace our failure. Thankfully that’s not how these stories end.

Zelophehad’s daughters fight through their special needs trial. In Numbers 27 they appeal to Moses, and present their case. This isn’t a mere example of Women’s Liberation or some early appearance of the feminist movement. This is simply a group of sisters who want to be a part of God’s Promise. Significant, since there were those a generation ago who had the opportunity to be a part of God’s program and quit. They didn’t let their special needs situation stop them. They fought appropriately and respectfully, and God honored that.

As far as Judah and his sordid history, God redeemed the that history! He eventually found his way back to God’s people, and one of those two sons born out of scandal became the line that would lead to David and eventually Jesus! God didn’t wipe away history, he redeemed it for His glory.

The Sons of Korah have a similar redemption story. Rather than wallow in the reputation their father forced upon them, they continued to stand for truth. They became a song-writing family and would be a part of many of the familiar Psalms in our Bible! Psalms 42, 44–49, 84–85, and 87–88 contain some of the most loved portions of the Psalter, and only exist because this family took advantage of the opportunity God gave them to go forward!

Our stories are all different, and yet we all have similar situations don’t we? There could be special needs in our family such as a blended family or a divided family, long-term illness or even a premature death, all of which make us feel like circumstances are stacked against us. Serious sins, crimes, addictions can clutter our closets and we’d just assume they’d never be remembered. I’m so thankful for forgiveness, but it’s more than forgetfulness God can somehow redeem them!

As the children of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, this somewhat sobering review was important so that they would remember that their past wasn’t perfect. These are just three of the many stories that could certainly be told! But by the grace and mercy of God they could go forward. On this side of the Cross we are offered an even more clear pathway. After listing a host of sins, the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian church, “…and such were some of you!” (2 Cor 6:9-11) God is in the business of taken a messed up story, redeeming it, and turning it into something amazing!

One day when you look back over your story, I trust you will marvel how God in His mercy and grace redeemed what could have been plain awful. You’ll see how He bought your story for the high price of His blood, and turned it in to something that just leaves you in awe. And you’ll give Him glory, because then you’ll know… the rest of your story!