When you buy a ticket for a concert or a sporting event, your ticket has a section number, a row number and a seat number. But did you know that this numbering system started with God? Let me go back a bit first to lay some groundwork for anyone who may not be familiar with the story. Abraham had Isaac and Isaac had Jacob and God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Now Israel had twelve sons who were called the sons of Israel, who later became the nation of Israel. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, was sold into slavery and lived in Egypt. A severe famine came and Jacob heard there was food in Egypt so he sent his sons to buy a little food. To make a long story short the brothers and Joseph were reunited. Joseph had his father and the whole family come and live in Egypt and so they did. But after the twelve sons had died a new Pharaoh ruled over the land and made them all slaves. After 430 years God sent Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt which by many signs and wonders they left as free people. But to get back home they had to go through the wilderness. Now the people sinned, and so they wandered around in the wilderness for forty years. While they were in the wilderness God had them construct the tabernacle. When Israel was in the wilderness God spoke to Moses and told Him that the people needed to camp facing the tent of meeting (tabernacle). Not only that, but they had to pitch their tents according to their tribes and each tribe was designated a certain place. Numbers 2:1-2 says this, “The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses.”’
A standard is a flag which is put on a pole. Each tribe had their own flag which to this day still remains. I suppose you could say it was like their coat of arms. But first God told Moses to count the men in each tribe. Numbers 1:2-4, “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head. From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company. And there shall be with you a man from each tribe, each man being the head of the house of his fathers.”
God was very particular about counting the people. Only when God said to count the people, were they to be counted. Once King David took a count, and the anger of God was against David. Why was God so particular about this? Because one, it caused pride, and two it caused a sense of security in themselves rather than in God. 2 Samuel 24: 12-16 tells us this, “ You must choose one of three ways for the Lord to punish you: Will there be seven years when the land won’t grow enough food for your people? Or will your enemies chase you and make you run from them for three months? Or will there be three days of horrible disease in your land? Think about it and decide, because I have to give your answer to God, who sent me. David was really frightened and said, “It’s a terrible choice to make! But the Lord is kind, and I’d rather be punished by Him than by anyone else.” So that morning, the Lord sent an angel to spread a horrible disease everywhere in Israel, from Dan to Beersheba. And before it was over, 70,000 people had died.”
Today we take a census in this country every ten years, and it always has some political ramifications to it because we use those numbers to determine how many congressional seats there will be in every state and for other reasons such as financial amounts per county and city. But God sees things differently than man. God has an order for all things in life, and He does not change. We will see in a moment just how true this is. So Moses counted the people and he told each tribe where they were to be. Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, were on the east side. Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, were on the southside. Ephraim , Menassah, and Benjamin were on the west side, Dan, Naphtali and Asher on the north side.
There is an old hymn that goes like this, “Oh when the saints go marching in, Oh when the saints go marching in. Oh Lord I want to be in that number, Oh when the saints go marching in.” Yes, when the count is in, we want to be with those who are numbered in God. With God there is a place for everyone, but God determines the place. The Messiah told His disciples this in John 14:2, “In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
So what do we have to do to get a room in God’s house? For starters John 3:16-21 tells us this, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed in God.”
So how do we know what is evil and darkness? The Messiah also said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” Those would be the Ten Commandments. Love God, love your neighbor, do good, show mercy, those are good starters. Here is one more, 1 John 2:15-17 says this, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever.” Some say that there are too many rules. Well, there is another place that has no rules where one could go, and that place is to be totally separated from your Creator, to be cast into utter darkness for eternity. We have a choice in the place, the row and the seat. God is love and He does not want anyone to perish. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”
We want to zero in on this, the people camped by their tribe with each one’s standard with the banners of their fathers. We too must carry the banner of our Father. Our Father is God, our heavenly Father, our Creator, the Lover of our souls. As Song of Solomon 2:4 tells us, “He has brought me to His banquet hall, and His banner over me is love.” I’m sure on God’s banner is the emblem of the cross of our Savior. There is another place that has a section and a seat and that is His banquet hall as Revelation 19:7-9 tells us, “Let’s rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Do you have a seat at the table? Maybe it’s time for you to secure one before it is too late. We find one more place in the Bible, and that is in
Revelation 21:10-27, “ And he carried me (John the Apostle) away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very valuable stone, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on the gates, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length, width, and height are equal. And he measured its wall, 144 cubits, by human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
This sounds like the tents around the Tabernacle in the wilderness which were on the east and west and north and south sides, so are the gates of the New Jerusalem. What a place! You don’t want to miss this. Make sure that you will have a place reserved for you. Let’s end with Titus 2:11-14.“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, eager for good deeds.”
Hope to see you there one day!
click here to See also our in depth teaching on the tabernacle: Tabernacle