Day 38: Numbers 1-2; The Census

Welcome to Numbers!  This particular reading isn’t a very inviting text to bring us into a new book… but I think that it brushes over a few topics that we’ve talked about already and gives us an opportunity to look back and remember where we’ve been.

First of all, the numbers (no pun intended):  We see again God’s marvelous provision for the people.  As we talked about at the time of the Exodus, only 70 people came down to Egypt, and now their numbers are listed at over 600,000 people!!  It’s actually probably more than that, but they didn’t include the Levites because of their work with the Tabernacle.  God has been with them all along, growing them into a nation, just as He promised.  Also, I think it is important to note that this is just the Men… there were likely as many women and, if you think about the normal nuclear family we like to think of in America, at least 2 kids per couple.  So… doing the math: 600,000 x 4 = 2.4 million people.  “As many as the sand on the seashore” and “more numerous than the stars in the sky.”  We know now days that there are a lot more than 2.4 million stars in the heavens, but remember, seeing it from their worldview… God has kept His promise!

The other thing that we read about today is the way that the Israelites set up camp.  This is very reminicent of something we talked about in the middle of Leviticus.  One very important part of Hebrew culture and life is their connection to the Divine.  God was their center and so they always wanted to be close to the center.  Upon the construction of the Tabernacle, they had a physical Center… the place that God dwelt.  For them, the Tabernacle was the point on which the whole universe turned, the link between God and humanity… the place that Heaven and earth touched.  So, you can see, as you read through Numbers 2 that the way they camped reflected this.  They camped around the Tabernacle, with their doors always facing it.  The picture below is, I think, a good depiction of how it might have looked.  Notice the Tabernacle in the middle, and all the lights of the tents coming out their front openings which are facing toward the dwelling place of God.  Credit for this photo goes to The Razzberry Press.

Tabernacle Encampment

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