Today’s Reading: NUMBERS 2:1-3:51
Numbers 2 is one of those chapters of the Bible that I admit I tend to skim through rather quickly. Genealogies, list of items in the temple, military divisions, census and the like make the life of a daily blogger difficult or challenging.
So what is one to do? Where do you go to get great spiritual meaning worthy to be shared with others? As I have said before, when nothing jumps out from the reading I head to the commentaries of the wise men of old. Maybe their studies have revealed something that I overlooked. Or maybe they can stretch an idea better and farther that I could.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary came up with this:
2:1-34 The order of the tribes in their tents. – The tribes were to encamp about the tabernacle, which was to be in the midst of them. It was a token of God’s gracious presence. Yet they were to pitch their tents afar off, in reverence to the sanctuary. The children of Israel put themselves in their posts, without murmuring or disputing; and as it was their safety, so it was their beauty. It is our duty and interest to be contented with the place allotted to us, and to endeavor to occupy it in a proper manner, without envying or murmuring; without ambition or covetousness. Thus the gospel church ought to be compact, according to the Scripture model, every one knowing and keeping his place; and then all that wish well to the church rejoice, beholding their order, Col 2:5.
Not much there until the end when he mentions that the idea that there is order and everyone knowing and keeping their place. That phrase might be a bit restrictive if written today. Henry then used this verse to support his point:
Colossians 2:5 NIV
For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
The idea is that there is order in God’s kingdom and that we have a place in it, just like the tribes of Judah when camped around the tabernacle.
1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
Here is a bit longer passage, but I think it adds to this concept that a single camp or church has many parts and they all are valuable and there is order in those parts:
1 Corinthians 12:12- 31 NIV
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
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