Today’s Bible reading is Numbers 2 and Acts 14.
Numbers 2 is full of … numbers. Throughout the chapter, the LORD is communicating to Moses and Aaron how the people of Israel–probably about 2 million people in all–were to arrange camp as they passed through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. It’s easy to get lost as we read about which tribe is to camp in which direction, but notice Numbers 2:2:
“The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.”
Picture 2 million people broken into 12 tribes with 3 tribes camped in each direction–east, south, west, and north. And in the center of it all, the Tabernacle–the tent of meeting–where the LORD God Almighty had promised to dwell among his people. Imagine the clusters of small camps–as far as the eye can see–covering the sands of the wilderness. But each and every camp is intentionally arranged to face the tent of meeting. God is the heart, the hub, the focal point of his people.
We obviously live in very different circumstances. You didn’t wake up this morning in the wilderness of Sinai. But your “camp,” in what direction is it facing? What’s the focal point of your home? What influence shapes the beginning of each day? Whose presence dictates the direction of your week?
Some of us, first thing in the morning, check every social media feed several times over before prayer even crosses our minds. Some of us turn on The Today Show or SportsCenter long before we feed ourselves with the living word of God. Some of us spend hours Netflix-binging and somehow convince ourselves that we don’t have time, day by day, to sustain and fortify our souls. Some of us distract ourselves with the noise of this world through our last waking moments … and then we do it all over again the next day.
How long would these millions of Israelites lived in the wilderness without manna from heaven? And honestly, how long can our souls thrive in the spiritual wasteland that is this world if we consistently neglect the life-giving words that have come from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4)? Living water is freely available (John 4:10), but how often have I (intentionally or unintentionally) faced the challenges of the day, day after day, without it?
God was the unmistakable focal point of Israel’s physical camp. It was a simple, daily reminder that he was to be the life-giving heartbeat of everything. In what direction is your camp facing?