Lent Devotion for February 22
Reader: “A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt,”
Response: “the Lord spoke to Moses.”
1 The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2 “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. 3 You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army. 4 One man from each tribe, each of them the head of his family, is to help you.
2 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “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.”
3 This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Here is something to think about. Imagine you were leading a mass of people, well over 1,000,000 people in a barren desert with no water readily available. A limited food supply and great heat. It would be like leading all the people in the city of Dallas, Texas on a meandering journey of roughly 500 miles. How would you go about organizing this mass of people? These first four chapters of the book of Numbers show us how God went about it. The portable Tabernacle was the place where God regularly spoke to Moses. One of the first things God said was to take a census and organize the mass of people into their tribal ancestry. From that information, they were also directed to establish an army for protection. God was in the process of organizing a nation rooted in the family of Abraham. God also specified that the tribe of Levi was the ones who were responsible for everything having to do with the Tabernacle. No one else was authorized to do anything relating to the Tabernacle upon the pain of death. God's visual presence dwelt in the cloud above the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies behind the curtain in the Tabernacle. God was helping the people understand the nature of His holiness. They were to stay far away when the Tabernacle was being moved. On another note, God gave specific instructions as to where the various tribes were to camp in relation to the Tabernacle, the dwelling place of God. When you draw out God’s plan for where the tribes were to set up camp in relation to the Tabernacle, which resided in the center of the camp, you discover that from the air above, the Israelite camp looked exactly like a cross with the presence of God in the Tabernacle at the very center of the people. From one man, Abraham, God brought forth a son. Isaac, the son, brought forth a family. Jacob brought forth a clan. That clan grew into a nation, a nation that survives to this day. God made a covenant with that nation. God loved His people as evidenced by His careful instructions and guidance He gave. The gospel and story of redemption are told in the desert as the older generation dies off through their rebellious hearts and the younger generation, led by Joshua and Caleb, enter the Promised Land.
"If I Got My Ticket” by Jubilant Sykes (Watch on YouTube)
Almighty God, in this hour of quiet I seek communion with thee. From the fret and fever of the day’s business, from the world’s discordant noises, from the praise and blame of men, from the confused thoughts and vain imaginations of my own heart, I would now turn aside and seek the quietness of Thy presence. All day long have I toiled and striven; but now, in the stillness of heart and in the clear light of thine eternity I would ponder the pattern my life has been weaving. May there fall upon me now, O God, a great sense of Thy power and glory, so that I may see all earthly things in their true measure To Thee O God, be glory forever. Amen.
- John Baillie from A Diary of Private Prayer, p.27.