As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God.
Psalm 42:1, 2
A Picture of the Cross in Bamidbar (Numbers)
Note: While reading the book of Numbers (Hebrew: Bamidbar), I came across some numbers which seemed quite peculiar to me. I remember thinking that these reflected a pattern. By the time I started putting them on a graph, I already had a picture in my mind of what was coming. This picture came out exactly as I supposed it would. As I look back, I can see how the Holy Spirit guided me to this conclusion and later found, as you will see below, that at least one other person has made this connection. I hope you will enjoy what God has placed in his Word as a picture of things to come in Christ. Since the time this was published, I've had an engineer go over all the numbers and has certified the information as accurate. Enjoy.
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4
Here we have amazing confirmation of how the Israelites as they traveled through the desert were actually a living picture of life in Christ. I like numbers - if you've read some of my other pages, you already know that. As I was reading the book of Numbers for the umpteenth time, I was making mental and actual drawings of the things written there. It's really necessary to do this, because the book makes many, many references to numbers - numbers of days, numbers of people, numbers of this, and of course numbers of that. I can only wonder who thought up the unusual title of this book! Much of the numbering is highly complex and yet assuredly accurate. One of the pages reflects the following:
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: "The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family."
On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. His division numbers 74,600.
The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Issachar is Nethanel son of Zuar. His division numbers 54,400.
The tribe of Zebulun will be next. The leader of the people of Zebulun is Eliab son of Helon. His division numbers 57,400.
All the men assigned to the camp of Judah, according to their divisions, number 186,400. They will set out first.
On the south will be the divisions of the camp of Reuben under their standard. The leader of the people of Reuben is Elizur son of Shedeur. His division numbers 46,500.
The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Simeon is Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai. His division numbers 59,300.
The tribe of Gad will be next. The leader of the people of Gad is Eliasaph son of Deuel. His division numbers 45,650.
All the men assigned to the camp of Reuben, according to their divisions, number 151,450. They will set out second.
Then the Tent of Meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in his own place under his standard.
On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim under their standard. The leader of the people of Ephraim is Elishama son of Ammihud. His division numbers 40,500.
The tribe of Manasseh will be next to them. The leader of the people of Manasseh is Gamaliel son of Pedahzur. His division numbers 32,200.
The tribe of Benjamin will be next. The leader of the people of Benjamin is Abidan son of Gideoni. His division numbers 35,400.
All the men assigned to the camp of Ephraim, according to their divisions, number 108,100. They will set out third.
On the north will be the divisions of the camp of Dan, under their standard. The leader of the people of Dan is Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. His division numbers 62,700.
The tribe of Asher will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Asher is Pagiel son of Ocran. His division numbers 41,500.
The tribe of Naphtali will be next. The leader of the people of Naphtali is Ahira son of Enan. His division numbers 53,400.
All the men assigned to the camp of Dan number 157,600. They will set out last, under their standards.
These are the Israelites, counted according to their families. All those in the camps, by their divisions, number 603,550. Numbers 2:1-32
This therefore, is the layout of the camps as mandated by God. If you notice, Judah is the first tribe mentioned and the first tribe to set out. Judah (if you head back to Genesis 29:35) was the fourth son born to Israel. Through circumstance though, Reuben lost his rights as the firstborn as evidenced in 1 Chronicles 5:1,2 - The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father's marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph). If you read Genesis 48:12-20, it explains that Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh received the firstborn birthright. This was also not given to the 2nd or third son Simeon or Levi as they got hotheaded and killed a town full of people. See Genesis 35:22 for a full account of Reuben's boo boo & see Genesis 34 for the downfall of Simeon and Levi.) If you read Genesis 29:31-35, you will notice the order of birth of these four sons. Notice that Leah named the first Reuben. This sounds like the Hebrew for He has seen my misery and actually means see, a son. Simeon probably means one who hears. And Levi sounds like and could possibly be derived from the Hebrew for attached. Judah in Hebrew means Praise. Personally, I think Leah made a big mistake concerning the naming of her first three sons which later affected their personalities and ultimately led to the sins which cost them the firstborn rights. By allowing her personal pride and inclinations into the decision for naming of these three, she put feelings about herself and her marriage ahead of praise for God. Notice how it says when naming Judah "This time I will praise the Lord." That should have been her (and our) first thing to do, not last.
Going back to the account in Numbers, I mentioned that Judah was to go first. This was also the occasion elsewhere in the Holy Bible, when the tribes asked of the Lord who should go first into battle. Here the Lord again said to let Judah go first. The Israelites went up to Bethel and inquired of God. They said, "Who of us shall go first to fight against the Benjamites?" The LORD replied, "Judah shall go first." Judges 20:18. Why did the Lord mandate this? It was to be a testament that Praise (Judah) should go first in all matters pertaining to the Lord. A lesson we need to follow in our own lives as well - in all things let Praise of the Lord go first! Amen! God had the twelve tribes do what Leah had failed to do.
As I presented the layout of the tribes before, you will notice that Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun encamped east of the tabernacle and equaled 186,400 men under arms (as well as families). On the south we have Reuben, Simeon, and Gad encamped with 151,450 men under arms (along with families). On the west are Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin with 108,100 men under arms (along with families). On the north are the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali with 157,600 men under arms (and, of course, their families.)
Now you need to add in the Levites as listed in Numbers 3:21-38. They were in charge of the tabernacle itself. They had the responsibility for maintaining it, breaking it down and carrying it when moving, erecting it when they camped, etc. Here are their break downs:
The Gershonites equaled 7500 and were to camp on the west. The Kohathites numbered 8600 and camped on the south. And the Merarites equaled 6200 and camped on the north. The last to be positioned were Moses and Aaron who camped east, toward the sunrise and maintained the sanctuary. Does it strike you in any way that the larger number of the Levites was to camp on the south and the smaller number on the north? Well, it did me too. Why would that be? Why, why, why? I bet you won't sleep tonight unless I finish this, so I'll get to the point.
East 186,400 plus Moses and Aaron.
West 108,100 plus 7500 = 115,600
North 157,600 plus 6200 = 163,800
South 151,450 plus 8600 = 160,050
See, the main tribes on the south are smaller than the north. By putting the larger numbers of Levites to the south and the smaller to the north things pretty much even out.
Now, think about the layout in real human terms...not like the study bibles show you. A study bible will draw a little box indicating a tabernacle and then a bunch of names tossed around it in the order the names are listed in Holy Scripture, or they will make neat little boxes representing each tribe and put their names in it - all in little rows so that you can easily see the layout. I don't see it that way and neither should you because that depiction is incorrect. Imagine a really big demonstration at the Washington Mall - say 200,000 people. You are talking about acres and acres and acres of people. Now imagine 603,500 men under arms, plus 22,000 priests and then toss in their families - say 2,000,000 people, along with tents, sheep, donkeys, wagons, etc. This would take up square miles of land. Remember now - all the tribes designated east of the tabernacle would have to be east of it. All those designated north would have to be north, etc. Now put the numbers to life and what will you actually see from an airplane? I am not making it up, the image would be correct, with the ark in the center of the tabernacle as indicated -
Yes, it's correct. The Israelites, as they traveled for 40 years were a picture of life in Christ, forming a miles-square cross in the desert. It you doubt this, I suggest you form it up for yourself and then come back to me with your results. If you arrive at something different, you will have done it wrong. One thing for you to remember when looking at this illustration is that the tabernacle would have been at the center of the cross and the Ark of the Covenant would be where Christ's heart would have been on the cross of Calvary. Don't ever let anyone try to convince you that Christ was not God incarnate. The entire Old Testament points to Christ. It's all about Him. For an entirely different perspective on this, and yet coming to the same conclusion, I refer you to the following site - please click here. After I came up with this as led by the Spirit, I found another brother in Christ who was also so led. Glory be to God for His indescribable gifts!
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Deer picture above provided by Flowers Photo Gallery from Japan.