Israel’s Camp Order: Numbers:2.
The view of the Camp:
The tabernacle was given to the people of Israel who were redeemed by the blood and power of God (Ex 12). They were brought to God to fellowship with him (Ex 19:4). God's great desire was to surround himself with his people. He wanted them to know that He is a holy God and the only way to approach God is through sacrifice. The tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month of the second year (Ex 40:2). The people with divine wisdom could do the work but only Moses could set up the tabernacle (Ex 40:17-19). This true in the church also. The Lord alone can add believers to the church (Acts 2:47). Jesus said "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt 16:18). Moses anointed the tabernacle and all was set in its proper place. The believers are only God's fellow workers (1 Cor 3:9). The cloud of glory descended and rested on the tabernacle. The glory of God filled the tabernacle. The tabernacle is a type of Christ (John 1:14). Also the tabernacle is a type of church (1 Cor 3:16). It is also the type of believer (1 Cor 6:19; 1 Thess 5:23).
The Israel's Camp: Numbers 2.
Then on the first day of the second month in the second year after Israel came out of Egypt, Moses took the census of all people (Numbers 1:2). After that the instruction for the camp order was given (Numbers 2:1-3). The tabernacle was always in the center and it determined the position and location of each tribe in the camp. The Lord desired that His redeemed people should live and march in an orderly way. God does all things decently and in order in the church
(1 Cor 14:40). When the camp of Israel was at rest the tabernacle was in their midst. Scholars suggest that about three million people were living in this twelve square mile camp site. Seen from distance the Tabernacle was not attractive with zeal skin covering. Its roof was not colorful but the camp sight was beautiful. Even the heathen prophet Balaam says “How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, how lovely are your dwelling, O Israel" (Numbers 24:5). As you draw near the enclosure of the tabernacle, it looks more impressive. The enclosure was made of white curtain. This speaks of Christ's purity. The Tabernacle is a picture of Christ (John 1:14). When Jesus was on earth, people did not consider him beautiful or attractive (1 Cor 1:18, 23). There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance (Isaiah 53:2-3). But those who come to know Jesus, he is more precious and beautiful than ever (1 peter 1:7). The people living in the camp were sinful (Rom 3:23). Only those who were willing to pay the atonement prize of half shekel were allowed to live inside the camp (Ex 30:11-16). It It is the beautiful picture of the ransom Christ had to pay in order to redeem us
(1 Pet 1:18; Heb 9:15; Ephesians 1:7). The believers are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
The Camp Order is a picture of the Church. God wants that everything in the church must be done properly and in order (1 Cor 14:40). God's role in bringing order out of chaos is an important biblical theme. He created the universe in order. God redeemed Israel from Egypt when he sent 10 plagues to convince Pharaoh. The Pharaoh's magicians were able to duplicate two plagues but they could not reverse the plagues. They could cause chaos but they could not bring order. Only God can restore and bring order in life. Sinner cannot bring order out of the emotional and spiritual chaos. Only Christ can bring order and beauty in our lives (Matt 11:28). Everything inside the camp are sacred and outside are profane and unclean (Heb 13:13). We are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet 1:18). Christ bore our sins in His body on the cross to redeem us from our sins (1 Pet 2:24). We are not saved by our good deeds but by grace (Titus 3:4,5). Only Christ can bring beauty and order in life. Those who honestly acknowledge their sin and come to Christ will be saved. God is able to give beauty even to ashes (Isaiah 61:3). Israel's camp order is a beautiful picture of the eternal state of redeemed people gathering around the blessed person of Christ in heaven.
God's Divine order: God sets a divine order in the camp as well as when Israel was on their march. At rest the glory of God filled the tabernacle. Those who lived in the camp were warriors, workers and worshipers of God. They were the redeemed people yet there was sin in their lives. They are in need of cleansing. The tabernacle shows that there is only one way to come to God. There was a wide open door with beautiful curtain that invites people. Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6). Christians are the redeemed people yet we stumble in many ways (James 3:2). If we claim we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). But if we confess our sins to Christ, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The sons of Levi pitched their tents between the camp and the tabernacle (Numbers 4). There names are Gershon, Kohath and Merari (Num 3). They were the set apart priestly people. They stayed closer to the tabernacle to intercede for the people of God. Christians are the set apart people to serve God (Ephesians 4:11, 12). They are the royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9). They are called to set the Lord always before them. They should steadfastly continue in the doctrines, fellowship, worship and prayer (Act 2:42). God has given spiritual gifts to all believers (1 Cor 12:7). They should use them well to serve one another
(1 Pet 4:10). The position of the Tabernacle determines the position of each tribe. Christ alone decides which gift each believer should have (1 Cor 12:11).
The Servants of God must be Faithful: The door was always facing the east where Moses, Aaron and his sons pitched their tents. Moses is a type of Jesus Christ, our great high priest. Joshua served Moses faithfully. After Moses Joshua eventually became the leader of Israel. Only the faithful and matured believers are qualified to become elders in the church (1 Tim 3:6). The arrangement of Israel’s camp was such that three tribes each pitched their tents on each side of the tabernacle (Numbers 2). When Christ becomes the center of the Church, there will be beauty and order in the Church (1 Cor 14:40). God determined everything, including the camp order among Israel. Similarly in the church Christ should control all things. There are varieties of gifts but it is the same God who does the work in all of us (1 Cor 12:6). The cloud of glory directed the movements of Israel. The pillar of cloud provided protection from sun and from enemies (Ex 14:19-20). The pillar of light gave them light in the night (Psalms 78:14). It remained with them until Israel reached the promised Land. The cloud of glory speaks of God's presence with believers. The Holy Spirit abides with believers to guide and protect them (John 14:16). God promised that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Christ must be the center of our life and the church. This also speaks of the eternal state of redeemed people around the blessed Lord (Rev 21:3). The meeting place of Israel was at the east end of the Tabernacle. The believers gather unto Jesus for worship, prayer and fellowship. He is our great high priest and the Savior.
Positions of 12 Tribes when the Camp at Rest: