From: Jessica Patton
“Camping arrangements of the ancient Israelites - really?” was my first, admittedly unspiritual, thought when I read today’s passage in Numbers 2. Why exactly does it matter to me that Ephraim camped on the west and Dan on the north? But as I continued to read, and prayed that God would make these verses meaningful, I was struck by two things.
First, God Himself told the Israelites to do this. He who parted the Red Sea, provided His people with manna and did all of the miraculous things that we associate with the Exodus, took the time to instruct them how to set up their camps. He cared, deeply, about them. He saw those 603,550 people (plus the uncounted Levites!) homeless in the wilderness and took the time to number them and to organize them. How comforting to think that He isn’t just a God of grand gestures who then leaves His people to flounder about making the best of things! The Psalmist knew this too, asking in Psalm 8.3-4 of our God who set the moon and the stars in place, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”
The second thing that stood out to me was that the Israelites did everything exactly as He said (Numbers 2.34). Again, why Ephraim on the west and Dan on the north? I don’t know. Perhaps each individual Israelite didn’t either, as they rearranged themselves and pitched their tents. But they knew God - the God of the miraculous Exodus story who had rescued them and fed them and led them - and when He asked them to camp in a certain way, they obeyed. 1 John 2.3 says “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” I pray that we would all know Him deeply and personally enough to obey His commands in spite of our doubts and uncertainty.
I am wife to Brian and mother to Ayelet, Oliver and Baby Bump #3. I love traveling, reading, cooking, sailing, CrossFit, camping, coffee and people - actually just life in general, usually!