The Tabernacle was in the centre of the camp at the start. This was an ordered society though it was nomadic. The family bond is the cohesive glue of ancient Israeli society and at the centre was the LORD.
Here we read of the twelve tribes who were brought forth from the twelve sons of Jacob, brothers by birth.
Jesus too, He brought together the twelve disciples, who were brothers in their Lord.
Psalm 133 says,
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”
Here in Numbers God divided up the twelve tribes in a way that promoted unity. Matthew Henry’s commentary has some very excellent words on this.
The tribes were to be unified around the tabernacle, with the Levites (the priesthood) taking care of the centre.
In Jesus we have a great high priest who “took care” of the centre, who has broken open the meeting place making us all (His people) a priesthood of believers.
What else have we to do knowing this then but to strive toward unity with each other!
The tribes fought. A lot. We see the infighting throughout the next few books in the old testament.
The disciples fought and bickered and played politics.
But Jesus has broken the hold of sin that threatens to entangle us.
We are now one tribe in Him, one people of God Almighty. We meet together in small portions of His flock – But we are one flock, with one Good Shepherd.
In Ephesians 4 Paul encourages and convicts us toward maintaining the unity of the Holy Spirit in the bond of peace.
Let us be encouraged to, as God encouraged Israel as they made their way to the promised land, as Jesus encouraged His disciples,
“… Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, …”
* Gracious Lord God,
Thank You for calling us to be Your people.
Please help us each day to work at dwelling together in unity.
Please help us to understand the practical outworking of this command, as we go through life, as we meet together, as we wrestle with different opinions and views and characters and personalities.
We are so very thankful that this is not a futile task for us – But that through Your Holy Spirit we can be together in unity!