FACING EAST

Sunrise from 7 January 2019; photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

While I love watching and driving around following the setting sun (I have thousands of pictures to prove it!), there is NOTHING like watching the sun rise. I love to greet the Lord’s dawn with my song (Ps 57:8; 108:2). I will literally seek out places whether inside my house or someone else’s house, in a hotel, or somewhere out in nature where I can read my Bible and journal, soaking up the Son’s rays. Direct morning sunlight fills my soul like nothing else.

The other morning while basking in the Lord’s sunrise, I started reading through Numbers. While I have read the early chapters of Numbers numerous times, I have come to appreciate the beauty, wonder and order of the Lord even more!

Chart by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Forgive me folks, I am NOT an artist in the least bit so this is my humble offering of a chart of Israel’s Wilderness Camp given in Numbers 1-3.

I have long known that Israel’s directional orientation faced east with her back being toward the sea and the setting of the sun. I never gave any thought as to what this looked like.

Although Judah was the fourth son of Leah, he was given pride of place as firstborn because of the sins of Reuben, Simeon and Levi. Judah was the head of the eastern triad and whenever Israel moved on from camp or went out to battle they led the way. Reuben led the southward triad and was given secondary honor. After the triad of Reuben moved out, “Then the tent of meeting shall set out, with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps; as they camp, so shall they set out, each in position, standard by standard” (Num 2:17 ESV). Ephraim, fulfilled Jacob’s blessing (Gen 48:5-20) and was the leader of the westward triad; the first to follow behind the Tabernacle when they moved from camp. The northward triad and the last to move were led by Dan.

Whether Israel was on the move or stationary in camp, the Tabernacle (or Tent of Meeting) was always in the center. I love what Allen says, “On the line of march the triads of Judah and Reuben would lead the community; next would come the tabernacle with the attendant protective hedge of Levites; then would come the triads of Ephraim and Dan. In this way there was not only the sense of the indwelling presence of God in the midst of the people, there was also the sense that the people in their families and tribes were protecting before and behind the shrine of his presence” (Numbers, REBC, 2012, p. 98).

It is truly significant that Moses no longer had to go outside of camp to meet with Yahweh (Ex 33:7-11). “There is a sense here of the progressive manifestation of the presence of God in the midst of the people. First he was on the mountain of Sinai; then he came to the tent outside the camp; then he indwelt the tent in the midst of the camp. One day he would reveal himself through the incarnation in the midst of his people (Jn 1:1–18); and, on a day still to come, there will be an even greater realization of the presence of the person of God dwelling in the midst of his people in the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:1–4). The story of the Bible is largely the story of the progressive revelation of God among his people…and the progressive preparation of a people to be fit to live in his presence” (R. Allen, p. 98). Numbers truly is a book about worshipping Yahweh!

I am a person who CRAVES order, structure, consistency and stability. In a world that is growing more tense, chaotic, unstable and hostile by the day, reading and meditating on these chapters have calmed my soul. “There is a sense in which the orderliness of these early chapters of Numbers is akin to the orderliness of Genesis 1. As God has created the heavens and the earth and all that fills them with order, beauty, purpose, and wonder, so he constituted his people with order, beauty, purpose, and wonder. And as the heavens and earth may “praise” God in their responses to his commands (Ps 147:13–18), so the peoples of God may praise him in their responses to his commands (Ps 147:19–20). Indeed, his people must praise him” (Allen, p. 93).

God cares about the order and manner in which He receives worship. In Numbers 3, Moses retells the story of Nadab and Abihu. The order of the tribe of Levi’s tents around the Tabernacle in 3:21-38 are given from least favored to favored (opposite of non-levitical tribes, favored to least).

Gershon to the west, away from the entrance of the tabernacle was responsible for the Tabernacle’s structure: tent, coverings, curtains and ropes. Kohath to the south was the largest clan and cared for: furnishings of tabernacle, ark, table, lamps, altars. Merari to the north cared for: frames, posts, bases, crossbars and supplementary materials. The Priests (Moses, Aaron and sons/descendants) had the honored position of being on the east, protecting the entrance of the Tabernacle.

“Moses and Aaron were not placed in the posture of arrogance on the eastern side of the tabernacle; they were placed there for a representational ministry (“on behalf of the Israelites”). Theirs was an exclusive work but beneficent to the community. Service in the tabernacle was an act of mercy, a means for the people to come before God. Yet it was marked by severity—all had to be done in God’s way! God receives the worship of his people only because of his mercy. The sovereignty of God was evident in his limitations on the means to approach him. The “stranger” could be a better man or woman, more pious and devout than a given descendant of Aaron; yet he or she would still face death in the case of actions based on presumption. The warning of death to the “stranger” is found four times in the book (see 1:51; 3:10, 38; 18:7)” (Allen, p. 111).

Near the end of Numbers 3 we read, “male Levites over the age of one month were to be regarded by Yahweh as “belonging to him” as the payment of redemption for the firstborn of the nation. The firstborn of animals were to be sacrificed to the Lord, but God never countenanced the sacrifice of persons on his altars. Hence a substitution was made. A male Levite was regarded as a substitution for the firstborn member of a family in a non-Levitical tribe. Notice that the firstborn of the livestock were also included in the substitutionary arrangement: Levite for firstborn of Israel, and Levite’s livestock for firstborn livestock of Israel” (Allen, p. 113).

The structure, detail and order given to Israel’s wilderness camp is so humbling and beautiful to me. For Christians today, we know that Jesus took on flesh and dwelt among sinful man. When we overlook these beginning chapters of Numbers we can miss seeing how Jesus is our sacrificial and substitutionary Lamb who redeemed us by His shed blood on the cross. Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who is already victorious but will come back to fight His enemies at the end of the age. Jesus is our great High Priest who is making intercessions on our behalf before the Father.

While our lives may be marked by disorder and dysfunction, we know that God is not chaotic nor disorganized. As God strategically and purposefully ordered Israel’s camp, setting them apart from the other nations, so too is God strategically and purposefully ordering our camp and steps. May we take comfort that the Lord Jesus Christ is in our midst and that the Holy Spirit will help us to live in a manner where we bring glory to God the Father.

Lord God, You absolutely amaze me. I am humbled by who You are and what You do. Lord God, in a world that is full of chaos and disorder I am thankful that You are stable, consistent, organized and purposeful. Lord God, Your presence and redemption are themes that run from Genesis to Revelation. Lord God, open this reader’s mind, heart, and hands to love and trust You and Your Word more. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Published by

Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

69 thoughts on “FACING EAST”

  1. Excellent and beautiful post Mandy. As you have indicated, when these layers upon layers of foreshadows begin to unfold before our eyes, it just adds to the magnificence and order of the tapestry of the Messiah, that Jesus is. Thank you for sharing, God’s blessings to you and yours!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, Bruce! I know you are also a lover of the OT so I am so thankful and humbled by your encouragement and encouragement and comment. It is incredible that someday soon we will tabernacle with Holy God in all of His Splendor. Love and blessings to you and Peggy!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Every day Alan I am becoming more aware that of God’s order and how He does indeed dwell amongst His people. What a day it will be when we will see our King in His Beauty and know that we are home. Love and blessings to you and Susan!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent study, Mandy. I really enjoyed it. I love the sense of awe and wonder in which you impart into your writings. L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine upon you, and to continue to invigorate your morning times with Him. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I will be honest-Numbers is a book I know to be necessary, bit one I have long struggled to dig into. But, you brought out some very significant things here! The order and the significance of all our Lord does is such a reassurance, especially as our world gets more and more chaotic. Great study, dear friend! Love, hugs, and blessings!❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Marisa! Thank you for hanging in and reading this whole thing! It is definitely longer than any of my other posts, and I will NEVER claim to be an artist; however, I really felt compelled to write on this. I am so amazed by how God orders and works in this world and in His people’s lives. You are loved sweet friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You might remember I go to Messianic congregations. Most of my closest friends are Yeshua-Jews. They (we) still face the east when reciting the Shema. There really is something about physically turning to face a certain direction when speaking the prayer aloud. Anything that causes me to change my physical position in order to take a more considerable notice, truly helps me to focus on the seriousness of what I am saying and to the One Who has ears. So well done, Mandy.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Alan! I do remember and I am glad for your comment! Often I get down on my knees in submission and pray facing east. I agree with you about our physical positioning helping us to focus on the seriousness of our prayers. Scripture is filled with different prayer and reading postures so thank you for you addressing this, Alan! Love, hugs and blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the order in the OT too. Was reading Ezekiel with all the cubits, and you know I love math, so here we go! It is 1860 miles from me to where you live. The math breaks down as follows: there are 3520 cubits in a mile x 1860 = 6,547,200 cubits between me an you!

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  6. Answering your question: We will be going to an outdoor garden soon! That will be our outing and hopefully I pick up dinner to give my wife a break from cooking! But I’ll have to convince her lol

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “While our lives may be marked by disorder and dysfunction, we know that God is not chaotic nor disorganized. As God strategically and purposefully ordered Israel’s camp, setting them apart from the other nations, so too is God strategically and purposefully ordering our camp and steps.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The above statement is like balm to my soul. Life does feel chaotic lately. It’s good to rest in knowing that God is still and always purposeful and strategic in our lives. Thank you, Mandy!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is an incredibly well researched and fact packed post. I need to study the Tabernacle in details when I get to Exodus. Its amazing how God wants exacting worship when we today often think lightly about being organized, the externals, etc. Keep these posts coming (when you can)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! I am honored you had time to read this already! What fascinates me about this is how organized and purposeful the Lord had Israel go out in conquest!! God is gracious in that while only Joshua and Caleb survived the wilderness, the Lord preserved these names in His written, historical account. I can’t wait to hear about your studies in Exodus when you get to it! I have really enjoyed studying the different responsibilities of the clans of Levi. I also am gaining appreciation into how very difficult and demanding the Priests role/job was. Praise Jesus for all that He has fulfilled! As I keep saying, “the more we read and study The Bible Jesus Read (OT), the more we will love Jesus!” Love, hugs and blessings to you, Nancy and kiddos!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love this theme of yours: “ “the more we read and study The Bible Jesus Read (OT), the more we will love Jesus!”” (Trademark, copyright 2021 by Blue Collar Theologian). I totally agree!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I like how you explained this Mandy. I like order and I have always felt God’s detail, structure and specifics such a part of who He is in places like Numbers, in details given for the temple to be built.
    I appreciate the depth of study you did to bring this across.
    Thank you for sharing this Mandy.
    Blessings 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Manu! I appreciate you taking the time to read this! The Temple is fascinating as well. The Temple entrance was also on the east side receiving the morning sun. It is hard for me to fathom that there will be a day when there is no sun because we will be with the Son. We will truly see our King in His Glory. Praise Jesus! I am thankful for you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks, Mandy! Yes, God demonstrates a divine degree of orderliness throughout the Old Testament. Good example using Israel’s camp! People latch onto religious ritual for ritual’s sake rather than seeing the symbolism the ritual represented (e.g., Judah always led the way).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is amazing how Yahweh organized and purposed Israel both in camp and in conquest. The triad facing north are the same tribes that settled in the north in Canaan. Dan is not even mentioned in the list of tribes in Revelation. I am thankful that Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has overcome and will be coming back!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Neatly deduced! Each subsequent paragraph helps bolster/drive the point that “God strategically and purposefully orders” our life like the way He ordered the Israelites camp. All of this by His sovereign will. You graphic is very helpful as it makes me see the order, location, and movement of these tribes as they go along the direction in their journey in the wilderness. Graphics can really help drive the message and they are made for that purpose!! The tribe order/set-up makes me think on the 10 tribes that break away with Judah on the later part of Israel’s history. Blessings to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your encouragement with the graphic! I am a VERY visual person and I know that others are as well so I was hoping this may bring the talking points into focus. Kent, you are so right about the ten tribes that break away. The triad facing northward are also in the north when the land is distributed in Canaan. When I went to Tel-Dan there is an archaeological High Place which supports what was written In 1 Kings 12, golden calf worshiped by northern kingdom Israel. It’s no wonder then why Dan isn’t listed in Rev 7:5-8. God knows and seals His own. We do not worship God on our terms nor approach Him however we want! We worship and approach Him in love, reverence, awe, in humility and submission to His holiness. Love and blessings to you and your family!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow! Such a beautiful post (and sunrise) I never compared numbers to the future New Jerusalem, I loved that comparison as the progressivness of Gods presence becomes more tangible from the beginning of the bible to the end. Such a great point! Much love and God bless to you and Nathan 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your reflections, Dean! God’s presence never ceases to amaze me. So thankful that our God draws near to people and isn’t out there somewhere, uninvolved in the lives of people. Yahweh is present and on the move! Love, hugs and blessings to you and Andreia!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Same to you brother! Praying for you and all who will attend study!! Oh I sent a card to y’all with our offering and after I sealed the envelope I realized I didn’t put eng min on the memo line so I hope you don’t mind fill that in for me, sorry about that!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow…I’m floored. Thank you. I’ll let the treasurer know (I don’t deal with checks for obvious reason of checks and balances and accountability).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was thinking to make things easy for everyone I was just going to not open the check you sent to my place but give it directly to treasurer and let him know it’s for English ministry, would that work?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Crissy!! Love to hear your thoughts when you have time! The Lord is really teaching me lately that He is orderly and purposeful. No matter how disorganized and chaotic the world gets, God is Sovereign, stable, consistent and orderly. Have a great day! Love and blessings!

      Like

  13. This post is so beautiful, there’s nothing I can add! I will say that I do love sunrises, too 🙂 They fill me with hope. I’m one of those rare “morning people” because of the sunrise 🥰

    This part of your post especially caught my attention:

    “There is a sense here of the progressive manifestation of the presence of God in the midst of the people. First he was on the mountain of Sinai; then he came to the tent outside the camp; then he indwelt the tent in the midst of the camp. One day he would reveal himself through the incarnation in the midst of his people (Jn 1:1–18); and, on a day still to come, there will be an even greater realization of the presence of the person of God dwelling in the midst of his people in the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:1–4).”

    My first time reading the Bible, I was mind-blown of course! And I also got this sense of a bigger picture: God constantly reaching out to us. He never just disappears. God continues to reach out to us in the Bible, giving us more and more until He gives us the greatest gift ~ Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I just prayed for your research with Numbers 12 right before I head out for my long range pastoral visitatoin; wow that is awesome you are doing this research under your former prof.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not a hindrance at all! When you shared about conviction I realized in the midst of all my teaching I tunnel vision and didn’t plan to talk or covered much on handling conviction! It is conviction that drives one to confess! Appreciate you being there, and sharing.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Incredible! I will have to read this again. There’s a lot of really fantastic information in this post. I can absolutely relate to needing to feel the sun in the mornings during my time with the Lord. If I can’t be outside I try and sit near a window or sit in a room where the sunlight is pouring in. Blessings to you Mandy!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Mandy,
    This is a great study my dear. All throughout the Bible we see that our God is a God of order this truth encourages me to trust Him with my many chaotic thoughts. And as you rightly stated: “ May we take comfort that the Lord Jesus Christ is in our midst and that the Holy Spirit will help us to live in a manner where we bring glory to God the Father.”
    Thank you Mandy.
    Sending love.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Responding to your comment: Yeah I do see Hume being somewhat significant in shifting the social sciences towards Post-modernity…in the sense of he was one of the early guys that began swinging the ax on the tree of Enlightment confidence in “objective” truth and reasoning especially with Hume’s skepticism of us being able to know causality, etc. Of course others thinkers came along later taking the swing on the tree with their ideologies too! You don’t sound like a whacko at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Had a long day! Saw your comment too late before I got to say Happy Mother’s Day to my mother in law and my wife! For today we came back home late after church and I BBQ with my wife’s help. Just our nuclear family this year at the backyard, and enjoying California outdoor weather!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you for your prayers! Was having some pain earlier before I took ibuprofen the dentist office provided. Thanks!
    Also whenever you write up on the issue of numbers will be good, I’m excited you doing research for the Prof!

    Liked by 1 person

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