Numbers 2 & Psalm 36

Numbers 2

    The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers' houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side. Those to camp on the east side toward the sunrise shall be of the standard of the camp of Judah by their companies, the chief of the people of Judah being Nahshon the son of Amminadab, his company as listed being 74,600. Those to camp next to him shall be the tribe of Issachar, the chief of the people of Issachar being Nethanel the son of Zuar, his company as listed being 54,400. Then the tribe of Zebulun, the chief of the people of Zebulun being Eliab the son of Helon, his company as listed being 57,400. All those listed of the camp of Judah, by their companies, were 186,400. They shall set out first on the march.

    “On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben by their companies, the chief of the people of Reuben being Elizur the son of Shedeur, his company as listed being 46,500. And those to camp next to him shall be the tribe of Simeon, the chief of the people of Simeon being Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, his company as listed being 59,300. Then the tribe of Gad, the chief of the people of Gad being Eliasaph the son of Reuel, his company as listed being 45,650. All those listed of the camp of Reuben, by their companies, were 151,450. They shall set out second.

    “Then the tent of meeting shall set out, with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps; as they camp, so shall they set out, each in position, standard by standard.

    “On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim by their companies, the chief of the people of Ephraim being Elishama the son of Ammihud, his company as listed being 40,500. And next to him shall be the tribe of Manasseh, the chief of the people of Manasseh being Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, his company as listed being 32,200. Then the tribe of Benjamin, the chief of the people of Benjamin being Abidan the son of Gideoni, his company as listed being 35,400. All those listed of the camp of Ephraim, by their companies, were 108,100. They shall set out third on the march.

    “On the north side shall be the standard of the camp of Dan by their companies, the chief of the people of Dan being Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, his company as listed being 62,700. And those to camp next to him shall be the tribe of Asher, the chief of the people of Asher being Pagiel the son of Ochran, his company as listed being 41,500. Then the tribe of Naphtali, the chief of the people of Naphtali being Ahira the son of Enan, his company as listed being 53,400. All those listed of the camp of Dan were 157,600. They shall set out last, standard by standard.”

    These are the people of Israel as listed by their fathers' houses. All those listed in the camps by their companies were 603,550. But the Levites were not listed among the people of Israel, as the LORD commanded Moses.

    Thus did the people of Israel. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so they camped by their standards, and so they set out, each one in his clan, according to his fathers' house.

(Numbers 2 ESV)


Psalm 36

To the choirmaster. Of David, the servant of the LORD.

    Transgression speaks to the wicked
        deep in his heart;
    there is no fear of God
        before his eyes.
    For he flatters himself in his own eyes
        that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
    The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
        he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
    He plots trouble while on his bed;
        he sets himself in a way that is not good;
        he does not reject evil.
    
    Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
        your faithfulness to the clouds.
    Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
        your judgments are like the great deep;
        man and beast you save, O LORD.
    
    How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
        The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
    They feast on the abundance of your house,
        and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
    For with you is the fountain of life;
        in your light do we see light.
    
    Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
        and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
    Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
        nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
    There the evildoers lie fallen;
        they are thrust down, unable to rise.

(Psalm 36 ESV)


Something to Consider

Numbers 2: A careful observation from these instructions given to Moses and Aaron reveals to us that God was very specific and precise about the placement and ordering of His people. He perfectly organized the twelve tribes of Israel into groups of four that were to be encamped at each direction (east, south, west, north) surrounding and facing the tabernacle located in their midst. God also instructs a particular marching order that required two of the four groups to march ahead of the tabernacle, and two of the four groups to march behind the tabernacle. Therefore, the tabernacle which symbolized the very presence of God was to constantly remain at the center of their resting and at the center of their going. The presence and glory of God was to remain the epicenter of all Israelite activity.

Is the glory of God the epicenter of our daily activity? Is God the focus in our resting and the ultimate focus in our working? 

Perhaps, sometimes we fail to focus on the presence and glory of God because we wake up facing the wrong direction. We often arise in a hurry already distracted by what the day has to offer, and we overlook the very presence of God simply because we are facing the wrong direction. We see the day ahead of us, but we miss the glory behind us. We hurriedly set out towards the rising sun and miss out on communion with the Risen Son. As God is clearly a God of order, may we order our lives in such a way that all life's activities are encamped in their proper place and in their proper direction - facing and focusing on the presence and glory of God. May the presence and glory of God revealed to us in the gospel of Christ remain the epicenter of everything we do.