Wednesday, December 26, 2012

God at the Center

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”

On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard... The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them... The tribe of Zebulun will be next...On the south will be the divisions of the camp of Reuben under their standard... The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them... The tribe of Gad will be next...Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps...On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim under their standard... The tribe of Manasseh will be next to them... The tribe of Benjamin will be next...On the north will be the divisions of the camp of Dan under their standard... The tribe of Asher will camp next to them... The tribe of Naphtali will be next...

So the Israelites did everything the Lord commanded Moses; that is the way they encamped under their standards, and that is the way they set out, each of them with their clan and family.
Numbers 2:1-3a, 5a, 7a, 10a, 12a, 14a, 17a, 18a, 20a, 22a, 25a, 27a, 29a, & 34
(emphasis added)

God gave specific instructions for how the Israelites were to set up camp. This is one of those less exciting parts of the Bible. It tells us exactly who camped where. All of the more than 600,000 Israelites camped in a huge circle around the tabernacle. (The tabernacle was a tent like temple where God dwelt among His people.) Some translations (like the ESV) interpret verse two to say that the people of Israel had their all tent doors facing the center of the camp as well. Their entire camp centered around and directed their lives toward God. It must have taken a terrible amount of effort to set this all up, but it was worth it. We know that at this time the physical representation of God's presence was visible over the tabernacle at all times (Numbers 9:15). During the day God's presence was manifested as a cloud, and at night as a pillar of fire. So every morning when they would step out of the entrance to their tents, the Israelites would look up and see God's presence over the tabernacle and were reminded that God must be at the center of all they do. And every time they set up or tore down camp, they were reminded of the same.

What are some ways you have oriented your life around God? It's good for us to have these little reminders built into our normal everyday routine to help us remember that He must be at the center of all we do, that we live to glorify His name and make disciples for the kingdom. So here are just a few ideas of ways that you can build reminders of the centrality of God into your day.
  • Have a regularly scheduled and consistent quiet time in which you spend some time in Bible reading and prayer.
  • Keep your Bible on the kitchen table instead of on the book shelf to remind you to have a quiet time while you eat breakfast.
  • Write Scripture (especially one with a special meaning to you) in a prominent place where you will be sure to see it, such as on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker, taped to the wall of your shower in a plastic bag, your screen saver on your phone, etc...
  • Set your alarm clock radio or even your car radio to a Christian station.
  • Make a lunch date with God! If early mornings don't work with you, then go to your car during your lunch break everyday and squirrel away a few minutes for Bible study and prayer.
  • Building regular church attendance into your life is a great help, especially if you can get into the habit of going to more than just Sunday morning service. If you can discipline yourself to add Sunday School, Wednesday night, or Sunday night church to your normal worship routine it will really help.

For further reading...
  • Try any of the above as you feel led. If you are looking for a good place to start reading the Bible, try Genesis or Matthew.

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