Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, saying: “Number the children of Levi by their fathers’ houses, by their families; you shall number every male from a month old and above.”
So Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD, as he was commanded. These were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families: Libni and Shimei. And the sons of Kohath by their families: Amram, Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel. And the sons of Merari by their families: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites by their fathers’ houses.
From Gershon came the family of the Libnites and the family of the Shimites; these were the families of the Gershonites. Those who were numbered, according to the number of all the males from a month old and above—of those who were numbered there were seven thousand five hundred. (Numbers 3:14-22)
If people live forever, then they are of infinite worth. God told Moses to do a census of the Israelites by family and tribe. The result was lists and numbers. Most people think that the genealogies in the Bible are boring. So why did God tell Moses to create them? What purpose do they have?
They served as a reminder that each individual mattered to God. Human organizations, whether civilizations, secular clubs, denominations, corporate or nonprofit organizations, are all mortal. Nothing lasts forever except for individual human beings. Since individuals count, God had Moses count them. God was not concerned just with the big picture. He cared about each person and what mattered to him or her.
Why count only the males only from a month old and up? It probably had to do with infant mortality rates which were very high until the advent of antibiotics in the mid-twentieth century.
We are more than just numbers or names on a list. Each and every one of us is worth the effort of keeping track of. We matter to each other and we matter to God.