Pitch by his own standard.I. They ALL DWELT IN TENTS; and when they marched carried all their tents along with them (Psalm 107:4). This represents to us our state in this world.
1. It is a movable state; here to-day and gone to-morrow.
2. It is a military state; is not our life a warfare?
II. Those of a tribe were to pitch together, EVERY MAN BY HIS OWN STANDARD. It is the will of God that mutual love and affection, conerse and communion, should be kept up among relations. Those that are of kin to each other should, as much as they can, be acquainted with each other, and the bonds of nature should be improved for the strengthening of the bends of Christian communion.
III. Every one must KNOW HIS PLACE, and keep in it. They were not allowed to fix where they pleased, nor to remove when they pleased; but God quarters them, with a charge to abide in their quarters. It is God that appoints us the bounds of our habitation, and to Him we must refer ourselves (Psalm 47:4); and in His choice we must acquiesce, and not love to flit, nor be as the bird that wanders from her nest.
IV. Every tribe had its standard, flag, or ensign, and it should seem every family had some particular ENSIGN OF THEIR FATHER'S HOUSE, which were carried, as with us the colours of each company in a regiment are. These were of use for the distinction of tribes and families, and the gathering and keeping of them together; in allusion to which the preaching of the gospel is said to lift up an ensign, to which the Gentiles shall seek, and by which they shall pitch (Isaiah 11:10, 12). God is the God of order, and not of confusion. These standards made this mighty army seem more beautiful to its friends, and more formidable to its enemies. The Church of Christ is said to be as terrible as an army with banners (Song of Solomon 6:10).
V. They were to pitch ABOUT THE TABERNACLE, which was to be in the midst of them, as the tent or pavilion of a general in the centre of an army. They must encamp round the tabernacle —
1. That it might be equally a comfort and joy to them all, as it was a token of God's gracious presence with them (Psalm 46:5). The tabernacle was in the midst of the camp, that it might be near to them; for it is a very desirable thing to have the solemn administration of holy ordinances near us, and within our reach. The kingdom of God is among you.
2. That they might be a guard and defence upon the tabernacle and the Levites on every side. No invader could come near God's tabernacle, but he must first penetrate the thickest of their squadrons. If God undertake the protection of our comforts, we ought in our places to undertake the protection of His institutions, and stand up in defence of His honour, and interest, and ministers.
VI. Yet they were to pitch AFAR OFF, in reverence to the sanctuary, that it might not seem crowded and thrust up among them; and that the common business of the camp might be no annoyance to it. They were also taught to keep their distance, lest too much familiarity should breed contempt. But we are not ordered, as they were, to pitch afar off; no, we are invited to draw near, and come boldly. The saints of the Most High are said to be round about Him (Psalm 76:12). God by His grace keeps us close to Him.
( Matthew Henry, D. D..)
I. THE ONE ISRAEL.
1. Their real oneness of descent. The children of Abraham.
2. Their original condition. All bondsmen.
3. Their Divine deliverance. Brought out of Egypt, &c.
4. In one Divine covenant. Promises, &c.
5. Journeying to the one inheritance.
6. Under one command.See how this all applies to the Church of the Saviour. All the children of God by faith, all heirs, all pilgrims, all of one covenant, one Saviour, &c. — essentially one; one in Christ Jesus.
II. THE VARIOUS TRIBES.
1. Their different names. Necessary for distinction — recognition.
2. Their different positions in the camp. See next chapter. East side, ver. 3; south side, ver. 10; west, ver. 18; north, ver. 25.
3. The various tribes were in one general accord and union. All one religious confederacy, absolutely one, worship one, &c.; in perils one, in warfare one, in prospects one.
III. THE SPECIAL DIRECTIONS TO THE DIFFERENT TRIBES.
1. Each tribe had their own standard or banner to distinguish it from the rest. No order without.
2. Each man was to be by his own standard. Not a wanderer; not a visitor to all; but his own fixed, legitimate position.
3. Thus the duties of every tribe would be regarded and fulfilled.
4. Thus the interests of all would be sustained.
IV. SPIRITUAL LESSONS.
1. We see now the denominational tribes in the kingdom of Christ. Christians of different conditions, education, training, leaders, &c.
2. Christians have a special interest in their own camp.
3. To devote themselves to these is the first duty and privilege. Just as families are constituted, so churches.
4. All the various denominational camps constitute the one Church of the Saviour. Only one Israel, one body, one army, &c. For particular purposes, every man by his own camp; for general purposes, all acting in conjunction and harmony.
(J. Burns, D. D.)
1. God Himself delights in order.
2. The importance of order is recognised in human affairs.
3. This order was probably divinely institated as a means to peace and unity.
II. VARIETY. Each camp had its own characteristic standard. And each tribe and each father's house had its own distinctive ensign. Monotony is not a mark of divinity. Variety characterises the works of God, Countries differ in their climates, conformations, productions, &c. The features of landscapes differ. Trees, flowers, faces, minds differ. With one spirit there may be many forms.
III. UNITY. All the tribes were gathered "about the tabernacle of the congregation," as around a common centre. They had different standards, but constituted one nation.
1. The dependence of all on God. All the tribes looked to Him for support, provision, protection, direction, &c.
2. The access of all to God. The tabernacle was the sign of the presence of God with them.
3. The reverence of all towards God. They were to pitch "over against the tabernacle." Probably the tribes were two thousand cubits from it. Cf. Joshua 3:4. They were thus to encamp around the sacred place, that no stranger might draw near to it; and the Levites were to encamp near the tabernacle on every side, that the people themselves might not draw too near to it, but might be taught to regard it with respect and reverence.
IV. SECURITY. The tabernacle of God in the midst of the camp was a guarantee of their safety. His presence in their midst would tend to —
1. Quell their fears. He had wrought marvellous things on their behalf in the past: He was ever doing great things for them. Then why should they quail before any danger or enemy?
2. Inspire their confidence and courage. It should have given to them the assurance of victory in conflict, &c. (Numbers 10:35, 36). Distance from God is weakness and peril to His Church.Nearness to Him is safety and power. Living in vital union with Him all-conquering might is ours. Conclusion —
1. Learn sincerely and heartily to recognise as members of the Christian Israel all who have the Christian spirit, however widely they may differ from us in forms and opinions.
2. Think less of our isms and more of Christ's Church; less of theological and ecclesiastical systems, and more of Christ's gospel; less of human authority and patronage, and more of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The cause respecting God is, that they and all other might see what a wise God they serve. If they, professing the knowledge and service of the true God, had wandered up and down in the wild and waste wilderness, in such troops of men, in a confused manner, not knowing who should go before, nor regarding who should follow after, the name of God would have been dishonoured, His wisdom impaired, and His glory diminished. He leaveth them not to themselves, but assigneth to each tribe his proper mansion, to take away from them all confusion, and to cut off all matter of contention. For except He had established as by a law the order that should be observed among them, and thereby decided all questions that might arise touching priority, many hurly-burlies and heart-burnings would be entertained, and part-takings would be nourished; which being kindled at the first as a little spark of fire, would afterwards break out into such a flame as would spread further, and in the end hardly be quenched.
2. They are mustered and marshalled into an exact and exquisite order, to dismay and terrify their enemies, as also to confirm and encourage their own hearts. Great is the force of unity, peace, and concord. One man serveth to strengthen and establish another, like many staves bound together in one. Many sticks or staves joined in one bundle are not easily broken; but sever them and pull them asunder, they are soon broken with little strength. Thus the case standeth in all societies, whether it be in the Church or Commonwealth, or in the private family. If our hearts be thoroughly united one to another, we need not fear what man can do unto us; but if we be at war between ourselves, we lie open to our enemies to work us indignity whatsoever.
1. God is the God of order, not of confusion. As He hath order in Himself, so He commandeth and commendeth an order to be used of us.
2. All wise men will order their affairs with wisdom and discretion, and will dispose of them with seemliness and comeliness. An expert captain that goeth against his enemies will keep his soldiers in good array, whether he march or retire. If he fly out of the field out of order one is ready to overthrow another, and all are left to the mercy of his adversary.
3. The Church is not a confused multitude shuffled together, where no man knoweth his place or his office, and one encroacheth upon another; but it is the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. Now in a house well ordered is to be seen the master as the ruler, and the family subject to his government, every one employing his proper gifts, and no man usurping the place and calling of another. If this be to be seen in our private houses, how much more must we conceive this of the Church of God, which is the house that He hath builded, the mountain of the Lord which He hath prepared, and the peculiar people which He hath chosen?Uses:
1. Learn from hence to acknowledge an exquisite order in all God's words and works above and beneath, in heaven and on earth.
2. This reproveth such as know no order, but bring in all confusion and disorder in Church or commonwealth; these have nothing to do with God, but are the children of the devil, that hath transformed them into his image and likeness. For from whence are seditions and confusions but from our own lusts, enflamed and kindled from his furnace?
3. Seeing God requireth orderly observation of His ordinances, we learn this duty, that we must be careful to observe it and practise it with a due regard of His commandment. This is the general rule that the apostle commendeth unto us (1 Corinthians 14).
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Biblical Museum.Many would do well to learn the lesson taught in an old parable. "I don't know," said the turnstile one day, in a reflective mood, "I don't know that I ought to have thought so ill of my lot, and to have fretted over it as I have done. 'Tis true a turnstile has plenty of worry, as I have truly proved; worry and whirl all the day long I Nobody will ever pass without giving a turnstile a swing round; and whoever returns, ten to one but he gives the turnstile a whirling twist the other way! Indeed, I have said that I wouldn't wish to any one, whether friend or foe, the life of a poor turnstile. No. But then, as that old wheel of the waggon said yesterday, mine's a pleasant life and a favoured lot compared with his. If I have to turn round, he has the same; and whilst he has the burden of the cart, there is beside the weight of the load it carries pressing on him, and I have no encumbrances. So, on the whole, perhaps I'd better try and be satisfied; that is, as satisfied as I can afford to be, with so many turns about as must in my situation naturally come to my lot."
1. The tents. They stand to-day; to-morrow sees the cords relaxed, the fastenings removed, and a vacant place. My soul, from Israel's tents you learn how fleeting is life's day! Press then the question, When I go hence, is an abiding mansion mine?
2. The order. Let Israel's camp be now more closely scanned. What perfect regularity appears! Rule draws each line. Our God delights in order. Is it not so in every Christian heart? When Jesus takes the throne, wise rule prevails. Disturbing lusts lie down. Is it not so in Christian life? There is no tangled labyrinth of plans — no misspent diligence — no toll without a purpose.
3. The position. All these tents share one grand privilege. They all have common focus. As the planets circle the sun, so these surround the sanctuary. God is the centre. They form the wide circumference. And from each door one sight — the holy tent — is visible. God in Christ Jesus is the centre, the heart, the life, the strength, the shield, the joy of His believing flock.
4. The standard. A standard floats above each tribe. Beneath the well-known sign they rest, and by its side they march. Believers have an ensign too. The banner over them is Jesu's love (Solomon Song of Solomon 2:4). The standard is a pledge of safety. Beneath it there is sweet repose. Beside it there is misery.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(Prof. Marcus Dods, D. D. , Sermon to Boys' Brigade.)
The camp of Judah.: —
I. THE TRIBE. "Judah" signifies praise. "Now will I praise the Lord," said his mother Leah at his birth (Genesis 29:35). Thus is the spiritual Judah established and made a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62:7), to the glory of God of whom it is born and made. This whole family in heaven and earth is named and appointed to be a continual praise to the glory of the omnipotent grace of Jehovah. Kings and priests as they all are, is not each "a brand plucked out of the fire"? (Zechariah 3:2).
II. THEIR ENCAMPMENT. "Judah shall encamp." But in what form and order? Upon this we have only to say, with respect to the spiritual Judah, that the mystical Cross of their great High Priest embodies itself in all their stations and movements, gives shape to all their hopes and expectations, directs and regulates their prayers, praises, and exertions. Whatever they attempt or whatever they enjoy is conformed to the Cross.
III. THE DIRECTION IN WHICH THE CAMP IS SITUATED. Judah shall encamp toward the sun-rising. Such too is the cheerful situation of the beloved people; they have the evening behind them, and the morning in their eye. All are looking towards the rising day, towards the Day-star from on high.
IV. Judah's encampment toward the sun-rising was to be WITH HIS BANNER. Banners gave the signal for the people to march; they were painted upon hills and eminences, that they might be seen at a distance, and straightway the hosts marched towards and gathered round them. So it is with our banner of the Cross. It is a magnet of irresistible attraction. Wherever it is lifted up, there is a movement, an excitement, a stir, and the elect of God gather around it with exultation or with weeping.
V. JUDAH'S host. How astonished should we be, what mingled terror and great joy would surprise us, if suddenly those covering angel-hosts, which encompass the spiritual Israel, were to burst the veil which renders them invisible to mortal eyes, and come forth at once into full view! Some in this world have been favoured to behold a portion of those invisible squadrons which always attend the children of God. Judah's host is the heavenly band of "watchers," who are sent forth to minister to the safety and welfare of those who shall be heirs of salvation.
VI. The name of Judah's CAPTAIN IS NAHSHON, SON OF AMMINADAB. This name truly belongs to the Prince of the host, the Captain of our salvation. Nahshon signifies experience; and who is so experienced in conflict as He who was made perfect in sufferings, and having spoiled principalities and powers, overcame death, and opened to us the gate of everlasting life! Who is so experienced a captain as He, whose unslumbering pastoral care has been exercised for ages in behalf of His people! Who is so experienced in the tumult and alarm of war as He, against whom the infatuated and cold-hearted world have been bearing arms day and night for so many centuries I And who is so accustomed to triumph as He, who is making all such enemies His footstool and everywhere abides last upon the field! Appropriate therefore to Him is the name of Nahshon. He is also as truly in character "the son of Amminadab." For this name, which signifies "My people are a willing gift," directs our thoughts first to God the Father, as freely giving to Christ all who will ever come unto Him, and as making them also willing in the day of His power.
(F. W. Krummacher, D. D.)
II. III. IV. 1. Believe in their destiny. 2. Work for their destiny. 3. Wait for their destiny.Let every privilege conferred upon us increase our assurance of the splendid honours which await us hereafter. (W. Jones).
III. IV. 1. Believe in their destiny. 2. Work for their destiny. 3. Wait for their destiny.Let every privilege conferred upon us increase our assurance of the splendid honours which await us hereafter. (W. Jones).
IV. 1. Believe in their destiny. 2. Work for their destiny. 3. Wait for their destiny.Let every privilege conferred upon us increase our assurance of the splendid honours which await us hereafter. (W. Jones).
1. Believe in their destiny.
2. Work for their destiny.
The camp of the Levites in the midst.: —
I. THE REASONS FOR PLACING THE TABERNACLE AFTER THIS MANNER.
1. God doth hereby admonish them, that they should always have Him before their eyes, lest they should forget His worship or offend Him with their sins (comp. Leviticus 26:11, 12).
2. He had respect indifferently unto all the tribes. If any others had pitched their tents farther than from the Tabernacle, they would have quarrelled and complained that they had been contemned and despised.
3. The Levites were hereby put in mind of their duty, and therefore are lodged about it.
II. THE USES OF PLACING THE TABERNACLE AFTER THIS MANNER.
1. It assureth us that God will ever be in the midst of us, and settle His rest and residence among us (comp. Leviticus 26:11, 12; Ezekiel 27:27).(1) God is joined unto us in the person of His own only Son Emmanuel — i.e., God with us. We are made members of His body (see Matthew 28:20).(2) We have with Him the preaching of the gospel, whereby God is, as it were, brought down to reside and remain among us.(3) We have the promise of His presence and the seals thereof in His sacraments, whereby we are at one with Him, and He with us (see Galatians 3:27; John 6:54-56; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17).(4) When we come together in the Church to call upon His name He is near unto us, and most familiar with us (see Matthew 18:20).(5) He dwelleth among us whensoever He preserveth us from evil and delivereth us from our enemies.
2. It serveth to teach us to what end God hath instituted civil states and commonwealths in this world — to wit, to be stays and props to the Church, that the people of God may assemble together in peace and quietness.
3. It serveth to conclude the full and final happiness of the faithful, which is begun in this life, but shall be consummated in the end of this world.
They pitched by their standards.I. CONTENTMENT WITH THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT.
1. We are incompetent to determine our own place and duty.
(1) (2) 2. We have ample grounds for confidence in the determinations of God for us. (1) (2) (3) II. OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE COMMANDS. 1. All God's commands are binding, because they are all right. 2. All God's commands are benevolent. Obedience is blessed as well as binding. (W. Jones.)
(2) 2. We have ample grounds for confidence in the determinations of God for us. (1) (2) (3) II. OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE COMMANDS. 1. All God's commands are binding, because they are all right. 2. All God's commands are benevolent. Obedience is blessed as well as binding. (W. Jones.)
2. We have ample grounds for confidence in the determinations of God for us.
(1) (2) (3) II. OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE COMMANDS. 1. All God's commands are binding, because they are all right. 2. All God's commands are benevolent. Obedience is blessed as well as binding. (W. Jones.)
II. OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE COMMANDS. 1. All God's commands are binding, because they are all right. 2. All God's commands are benevolent. Obedience is blessed as well as binding. (W. Jones.)
II. OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE COMMANDS.
1. All God's commands are binding, because they are all right.
2. All God's commands are benevolent. Obedience is blessed as well as binding.
(J. W. Hardman, LL. D.).