Friday, February 23, 2024

2024.02.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Numbers 2

Read Numbers 2

Questions from the Scripture text: Who spoke to whom in Numbers 2:1? Who were to camp where (Numbers 2:2)? Distant from where? On what side does Judah camp (Numbers 2:3)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:7)? How many (Numbers 2:4, cf. Numbers 1:27)? Who next to them (Numbers 2:5)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:8)? How many (Numbers 2:6, cf. Numbers 1:29)? And who next to them (Numbers 2:7)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:9)? How many (Numbers 2:8, cf. Numbers 1:31)? How many, total, for these three tribes (Numbers 2:9)? When in the order would they break camp? On what side does Reuben camp (Numbers 2:10)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:5)? How many (Numbers 2:11, cf. Numbers 1:21)? Who next to them (Numbers 2:12)? And who next to them (Numbers 2:14)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:14)? How many (Numbers 2:15, cf. Numbers 1:25)? How many, total, for these three tribes (Numbers 2:16)? When in the order would they break camp? What moves out in Numbers 2:17? With whose camp? At what place in the order? On what side does Ephraim camp (Numbers 2:18)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:10)? How many (Numbers 2:19, cf. Numbers 1:33)? Who next to them (Numbers 2:20)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:10)? How many (Numbers 2:21, cf. Numbers 1:25)? And who next to them (Numbers 2:22)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:11)? How many (Numbers 2:23, cf. Numbers 1:37)? How many total for the three tribes from Rachel (Numbers 2:24)? When in the order would they break camp? On what side does Dan camp (Numbers 2:25)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:12)? How many (Numbers 2:26, cf. Numbers 1:39)? Who next to them (Numbers 2:27)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:13)? How many (Numbers 2:28, cf. Numbers 1:41)? And who next to them (Numbers 2:29)? Led by whom (cf. Numbers 1:15)? How many (Numbers 2:30 cf. Numbers 1:43)? How many total for these three tribes (Numbers 2:31)? When in the order would they break camp? How does Numbers 2:32 summarize this census? How many were numbered altogether? Who were not numbered (Numbers 2:33)? Why not? What did the children of Israel do (Numbers 2:34)? In what particular details? 

Who arranges the church and why? Numbers 2 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these thirty-four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord arranges His church with their mission in mind. 

God decides the order of His people. 1 Corinthians 12:18 tells us that “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” Our fellow-members, and our elders and deacons, in our particular congregation have been assigned to us by God according to an order that He has decided. No one in Israel had ground for complaining about where they were camped, or with whom, or what place they had in the order of march. The Lord had selected these things for them, and their following it was a matter of obedience (Numbers 2:34). Knowing this, we ought to take our part in the church with zeal and diligence.

God made them mobile. The Lord teaches Christians today to live with a pilgrim mindset (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:29–31; Hebrews 11:10–16; 1 Peter 2:11), and this was something that He made plain to Israel in this chapter. They were to live as those who were ready to move at any moment. Not only does He refer to their districts as “camp,” but the five (including Levites) groups are listed in the order by which they would break camp. Again, knowing the order in which they would move would help limit chaos and conflict when that time came. And setting a leader in each tribe, and a leader-tribe in each group, would also help keep things orderly. 

Seeing that God arranged them to be a mobile people reminded them that they were not at their final destination. They were kept looking forward to a better and permanent home. This is true for you, too, dear Christian. No place on earth is ultimately your home. You can be at home anywhere in the world, for the world is your Father’s, your King’s, and yours. But nowhere in this world is your home!

God put Himself at the center and at a distance. Remember that this was no ordinary camp. They numbered in the millions. The tabernacle was at the center of a large, priestly district, which will be the subject of the next couple chapters. In each direction, there would be a significant distance (probably almost a mile, cf. Joshua 3:4) from the tabernacle to the main body of the Jews. This made the tabernacle and its precincts into a large “downtown” area, but it would be God Himself who dwelt there among those particular servants who were to attend to Him. The prominent focus upon the Levites reminds us from the previous chapter (cf. Numbers 1:51Numbers 1:53) that the greatest danger to them was not outside the camp but in the middle.

For us, our “tabernacle” is in glory, where Christ Himself is seated. But we are not kept at a distance. We are united to Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places. This is one great blessing of what is called “the priesthood of all believers” in Jesus’s administration of the covenant of grace. Were Israel taught that the Lord is the center of their lives? Then how much more you are taught so, dear Christian! Let us seek grace to live our lives with Him at the center, rejoicing that we are no longer “kept at a distance,” and living as those who are holy. 

How does this chapter remind you to embrace God’s own general order in the church, and His providentially chosen members and officers in your own specific church? What is your final home? How can you be “at home” here, and what does it look like to live as someone for whom this is not your ultimate “home”? What does having God at the center of your life mean for your schedule (e.g. mornings, evenings, Lord’s Days)? What does it mean for the “ordinary” times of life? What difference does it make to you that you are now seated with Christ?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You have set the order for Your church as it should be. Please help us to submit ourselves to You cheerfully. Give us to live in this world as pilgrims, focusing upon You and how our life revolves around You, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP116B “I Still Believed” or TPH61B “O Hear My Urgent Cry”

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