We get to see what the camp looked like, or at least how it was laid out. Again, we also get the numbers of the men who were counted.
I was trying to get a visual feel of how the camp was laid out. This is a rough representation. I was also interested in why God put which tribe where He placed them. I noticed first off that all of Rachel’s children were together. Then I looked at the rest of the placements. In this I noticed that all of Leah’s are together too with the Levites uniting the two arms. The only outliers are the four camps of Leah’s and Rachel’s maids. I recognize that there isn’t room for all four of these tribes to be on one side but why was Bilhah’s children’s tribes separated?
I was told some time ago that the camp was set out in the shape of the cross. I see that withGod’s this representation because of the sizes of the encampments. The eastern side is significantly larger than all the others. The north and south are close in size. And the western side is the smallest. So this “cross” would be running (top to bottom) lying eastward.
This is the first time I noticed that there was a marching order set for the camp too. I find it intriguing that the sides are grouped into one when it comes to function. Judah was given first place in this order. We know that this is also the tribe which would be God’s choice for His Son to come through. Judah was also the first of Leah’s sons that she actually looked to God for her recognition. All her previous sons were in an effort to win her husband’s love. With Judah she praised God instead.
Ruben was the leader of the second group to set out. Their movement opened the way for the Levites to easily move with the Tabernacle. Then came Ephraim and finally Dan.
This also put the Tabernacle still in the middle of the group. This was NOT because they were more vulnerable because God could EASILY protect His own house but so that they were still visible to both groups. The Tabernacle was central to ALL life in Israel. In fact EACH tent, no matter which leg it was pitched in, faced the Tabernacle. Each morning as they rose they had to face the Lord’s house first. Each night as they retired the Lord’s house watched over them. I wonder if the Tabernacle was the tallest structure in the camp an could be seen from any tent. That would have been an inspiring or reminding view every morning.
“Each morning I rise and step from the warmth of my tent. The morning sun greets me as I welcome the day. My eyes always look first to the house of my Lord. It stands in the distance looming over the tops of the tents before me. As my eyes behold it’s coverings I’m reminded of the beauty that lies beneath them. I have only glimpsed it from the outer court as my heritage is not of the tribe of Levi. But I have heard stories of its arrangements and I saw the created pieces assembled before it was erected.
After I drink my fill of this sight I turn to look around me. On all sides of me sit, stand, work, and play my family. My closest kin camp right next to me. My cousins are within a tent or two away. As the distance in my family tree grows so does the space separating our dwelling places but I am NEVER farther away from anyone in my family than an afternoon’s walk. I am truly blessed to be part of this family. We look out for one another. We encourage one another. We depend on one another. And we call one another to account. Tribes divide us but also unite us. We move as one to the Promised Land following the promise of our greatest uniting force; our God. ONE father, ONE family, ONE GOD.”
Father God, I’m not of that physical family but I am of that faith family. I am a child of Abraham by faith. Thank You for allowing me to be part of the family. Thank You for giving me the image of emerging from the tent. I wonder what it really would have looked like each morning. Did the people grow so accustomed to the sights that they didn’t “see” any longer? Or did they wake each day with a sense of wonder about the things that You had planned for them that day?
I know I have often simply stumbled out of bed without considering what You had in store for my day. Without thanking You for holding me through the night. Without being grateful or expectant. Thank You for reminding me of that expectancy and for bringing it into our time together at least. Help me NOT become complaisant when coming to You. I want to ALWAYS come with a sense of curiosity, wonder, and expectancy. You NEVER disappoint me when I do!