Numbers 2

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

A definite order for Israel’s encampment and travel. Judah was named first and led when traveling. The Levites and Tabernacle were in the center, both when encamped and when traveling. Their tribal identities were preserved even in a potential time of chaos. Easily a million people.

Remember Balaam’s response upon seeing all Israel in the wilderness (Num 23:9-10)–

There! A people dwelling alone,
Not not reckoning itself among the nations.
Who who can count the dust of Jacob,
Or or number one-fourth of Israel?

The pagan king Balak who hired Balaam to curse Israel didn’t want him to be so impressed, and so moved to a location to see only one part of Israel (23:13), but to no effect.

The third time Balaam “saw Israel encamped according to their tribes” (24:2) and spoke of Israel’s beauty in the desert (24:5-7) and grand status and power (24:8-9).

How lovely are your tents, O Jacob!
Your dwellings, O Israel!
Like valleys that stretch out,
Like gardens by the riverside,
Like aloes planted by the LORD,
Like cedars beside the waters.

God brings him out of Egypt;
He has strength like a wild ox;
He shall consume the nations, his enemies;
He shall break their bones
And pierce them with his arrows.
‘He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?’
Blessed is he who blesses you,
And cursed is he who curses you.
How lovely are your tents, O Jacob!

Indeed, one does not expect to see much in the form of large gatherings of life in the wilderness, much less highly organized!

The visual impact was not the aim and purpose of the order, but was an effect. Indeed, the effect was not automatic; it moved Balak and his fellow pagan kings to desire Israel’s destruction, whereas God through Balaam gloried in Israel.

Merely doing things the right way is insufficient; the Spirit must move in the heart to cause one to truly see and thus praise the Lord.

No especially that Balaam’s praise was God’s praise–it was His response to what was seen, and must therefore be our response.

Thus God “guided His own people in the wilderness like a flock” (Psa 78:52) So that he who led them would be praised, “for His mercy endures forever” (Psa 136:16).

God is a God of order, and consequently we must praise him for his wisdom and precepts, for therein is preservation, protection, propriety, and praise.

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