Sunday, September 28, 2014

Marching Orders

The Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt and their journeys in the wilderness as they prepare for the Promised Land mirrors the individual journeys of our own lives. The children of Israel began their journey as slaves in Egypt; we begin our journey as slaves to sin. God delivered the children of Israel from their slavery, protecting them from the angel of death by the blood of the Passover lamb which they placed on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. God delivers us from slavery and protects us from the angel of death by the blood of Yeshua which we place on the doorposts and lintels of our hearts. By faith, the children of Israel left Egypt and followed God into the wilderness where He met with them at Mt. Sinai. God made a covenant with them and gave them the Torah telling them how to live a holy life. By faith, we leave our old lives behind and follow God into the wilderness where He speaks with us. He gives us the Holy Spirit teaching us through God’s word how to live a holy life.

But, neither they nor we are to stay in the wilderness at Mt. Sinai. At Mt. Sinai, we are equipped for the journey to the Promised Land which represents God’s “rest.” When we have defeated all our enemies and dwell in the land that God has provided for us, God provides rest!

As the children of Israel left Mt. Sinai for what should have been a short journey to the Promised, they left as an organized host. God told them the order in which they should march and which tribes should lead the way. The shekinah glory of God is visible as the cloud of the LORD went before them.

Numbers 10:35-36 NKJV 35 So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: "Rise up, O LORD! Let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You." 36 And when it rested, he said: "Return, O LORD, To the many thousands of Israel."

The order of the march of the tribes was Judah, Issachar and Zebulun in front. Behind them came the Sons of Gershon and Merari carrying the Tabernacle. After them came Reuben, Simeon and Gad. Then the Kohathites followed with the holy things of the Tabernacle. The tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin followed them. Finally, the tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphtali completed the company as the rear guard. 

What does the order of this march tell us? As we look at what was said about why each son was given his name, we see a promise of the rest that awaits each of us who love the LORD. References to these names are found in Genesis 29:31 through Genesis 30:24, Genesis 35:18-19, and Genesis 40:50-52. In the case of Benjamin, no specific words were spoken other than his name which, as spoken by Rachel, meant “son of my sorrow” and, as spoken by Jacob, meant “son of my right hand.”

These are the words:

I will praise the LORD
I have received my reward
My husband will dwell with me
The LORD has looked down on my afliction
The LORD has heard that I am unloved
Good fortune comes
God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction
God has caused me to forget all my toil
The son of my sorrow is the son of my right hand
God has judged my case
I am happy
I have wrestled and prevailed

As the apostle Paul approached the end of his life. He reflects on his life’s journey in his final letter to Timothy.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

May our journeys end as Paul’s ended—being confident of the reward waiting for us as we enter into His presence.

James 1:12 NKJV 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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