A Worshipful Journey Through the Book of Numbers
Four hundred years of compromise, sin, suffering and darkness at the hands of evil authorities. Israel’s only way to be healed is to come out of slavery and into the freedom of the Lord’s authority. Picture yourself when reading of Israel. As you follow our study through the often overlooked book of Numbers, you will see how God rehabilitates and frees broken people.
Day 2: The Diorama and a Promise
In Numbers 2:1-8, God orders Judah (meaning praise), Issachar (to bear a burden), and Zebulon (dwelling place) to set up around the east side of the encampment. In 2:10-17, He arranges Rueben (see my affliction), Simeon (hear my affliction), and Gad (troop and invader) on the south. In 2:18-24, He orders Ephraim (fruitful increase), Manasseh (forgetfulness and forgiveness), and Benjamin (son of my right hand) along the west side, and finally in 2:25-33, He orders Dan (judge), Asher (happy), and Naphtali (wrestling), around the north side.
Is this specific ordering meaningless, or solely to bore us? No! God was assembling a diorama!! Diorama’s are those little crafty shoebox displays that kids create in 1st grade that are assembled for the purpose of resembling and pointing to something greater. In Numbers 2, God set up the encampment as a symbol to point to something greater. It was to communicate to Israel something about his intentions.
God began with the east side. In Scripture the east is a significant coordinate. It symbolizes the home from which God’s people had come. God, in numbering the people, began by reminding them of the home they had lost—a home safe in the burden-free dwelling place of God’s presence and praise.
Humanity, however, had lost this home by their doing. Along the south side of the tent of meeting dwelt the offspring of Leah to remind the people of this reality. The south side is a far different cry than that of the hope-filled meaning of the east side. Leah’s heritage in her boys Rueben, Simeon and Gad, is based in drab ugliness and reminded the people of their present dirty condition.
But God had a plan for Israel and for all humans. We are to see it in this encampment. He placed three more tribes around the western edge that symbolize prosperity and strength. He prospers humanity despite all our failures.
In Numbers 2:25-33 God concludes with the names located at the north side. A circle of redemption and promise is enclosed within the encampment. God’s finale to this storyline is to sing a song of exuberant joy—joy based in the fact that this human war and wrestling will one day completely cease as a result of his unending covenant toward his people.
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