When the Israelites were counted, they weren’t just ignoring the women and children age 19 and under. They were counting the men who were going to be in Israel’s armed forces. They were broken up into twelve troops that aligned with eleven of the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph’s tribe was broken into two half-tribes: Ephraim and Manasseh.
The divisions of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun are to camp toward the sunrise on the east side of the Tabernacle… (Numbers 2:2-3 NLT)
The divisions of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad are to camp on the south side of the Tabernacle… (Numbers 2:10 NLT)
The divisions of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin are to camp on the west side of the Tabernacle… (Numbers 2:18 NLT)
The divisions of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali are to camp on the north side of the Tabernacle, beneath their family banners. (Numbers 2:25 NLT)
When they camped, they camped in these places. When they moved, they moved in this order. The LORD told them how to set up camp and move around, with one more important detail.
Then the Tabernacle, carried by the Levites, will set out from the middle of the camp. All the tribes are to travel in the same order that they camp, each in position under the appropriate family banner. (Numbers 2:17 NLT)
When they camped, traveled, and even went into battle, they were not alone. Right in their midst was a reminder that the LORD was with them – right in the middle of everything. In fact, someone after second service pointed out to me that the troops had different numbers in this grouping of threes. When they camped, it would have been a little lopsided. When they camped, it made the formation of a cross, with the connection point being the Tabernacle where the LORD dwelt among them.
How about you? Are you prepared for battle, ready to fight the enemy and love people? As you go out into the world, are you assured that your body is God’s temple and that God is with you wherever you go? Do you go out into your day confident of the God who is within you?