Please read God Wants Total Obedience first. Go to the category of Walk in Obedience above.
Camping around the Tabernacle was done in a certain way.
God spoke to Moses and told him to make two trumpets of silver that were to be used for communication between Him and His people. They were to set up a system so that each person would know who was being called to the door of the tabernacle for a meeting.
When both trumpets were blown in short, sharp tones, the whole congregation was to come.
If only one trumpet blew, the heads of the tribes were to come.
God gave them specific instructions as to where they were to set up their tents. According to Joshua 3:4, there was a reserved spot of 1000 yards around the Ark of God, and all the people except the priests and Levites were told to keep their distance.
They did not have access to the space for secular purposes, but they could enter it when the festivals were at hand, when they went to worship God, or when they had been summoned by the silver trumpets.
THE INNER SETUP:
On the EAST, and before the gate of the court, were pitched the tents of
MOSES, AARON, AND THE PRIESTS
Numbers 3: 38
On the SOUTH, were the tents of the
Numbers 3: 29
On the NORTH, the tents of the
Numbers 3: 35
On the WEST, the tents of the
Numbers 3: 23
There were 8,530 males from the age of 30 to 50 that were appointed ministers of the Sanctuary, sentinels to guard it, laborers to rear it and take it down, carriers to transport it from place to place, servants to assist its priests in their sacred duties, and instructors to teach the thousands of Israelites that lived on every side of them.
The priests and Levites formed a square around the tabernacle, so that they made a complete wall around it. They were the ones who worked there daily, so they needed to be in close proximity; their work was considered holy.
THE OUTER SETUP:
Each grand division or army of Israel was composed of three tribes, and camped as follows:
On the EAST
THE CAMP OF JUDAH
This comprised the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun
Numbers 2: 2 – 10
On the SOUTH
THE CAMP OF REUBEN
This comprised the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad
Numbers 2: 10 – 17
On the WEST
THE CAMP OF EPHRAIM
This comprised the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh
Numbers 2: 18 – 28
On the NORTH
THE CAMP OF DAN
This comprised the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, and Asher
Numbers 2: 25 – 29
Below is a drawing for clarification:
It is thought that there were probably about two million Israelites in the wilderness, so their tents would have covered a huge space, estimated at maybe from 2 to 3 miles square.
The different tribes and families had standards, flags, or ensigns to distinguish them from each other.
The Bible does not give specific instructions as to how they accomplished this, but they were all arranged so as to secure the most perfect order according to how many they had in their tribes.
Numbers 2: 2
Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house; far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.
It you had been on a hill looking over the camp, you would have seen a beautiful sight. In the very center was the Tabernacle with its golden walls and silver foundation glistening in the sun. Then resting upon the magnificent roof was the cloudy pillar that sheltered and protected them.
The Court of the Lord’s House was around the Sanctuary. The brazen altar was in its center, with the smoke of the sacrifices extending upward toward heaven.
Then there was a beautiful wall that enclosed the whole structure; it was made of pillars and linen hangings.
The thousands of tents of the people were all arranged in order like a well laid-out city in regular streets, and it is thought that somehow they were planned so that each tent-door opened out to the Tabernacle. This would enable them to worship God while they were standing at the door of their tents because their faces would be toward the Sanctuary.
God is truly a God of order. He had everything planned so that they could set up camp in record time. Each person knew their job and performed it well.
Please read the next part of this series Marching Order of the Israelites from the above category Walk in Obedience.
For a deeper study of this subject, click here and go to my site Power of the Living Word. The individual articles will give you a much deeper understanding of the function of the Tabernacle in the lives of the Israelites during their time in the wilderness.