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  • In the picture portrayed in Numbers, God’s move was in the Ark with the tabernacle, i.e., in Christ, the God-man, the mingling of God and man (see note Exo. 25:111), as the embodiment of God (Col. 2:9), with the church, the enlargement, the increase, of Christ (see notes on Exo. 26:15) as God’s dwelling place on the earth (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21-22; 1 Tim. 3:15). The picture in Numbers shows the Triune God and His chosen people mingled together as one entity that God may move on the earth and conquer His enemy in order to regain the earth for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose (cf. Acts 1:8).

  • The children of Israel were formed into a fighting army by being numbered by their families (by their fathers’ households) and leaders (vv. 1-16), i.e., by the source of life (cf. 1 Cor. 4:15) and fellowship of life (1 John 1:3) and under the leadership (authority) in life (cf. Heb. 13:17), and according to their age (vv. 20-46), i.e., according to the maturity in life (cf. 1 John 2:13). In order to be numbered the children of Israel were required to be in the fellowship of the life of their fathers’ households and had to grow in life unto maturity.

  • See note 14*1 in Exo. 30. For a vow to God, an Israelite male of the highest valuation was required to be between twenty and sixty years old (Lev. 27:3), but for fighting, an Israelite male was required to be twenty years old or above, without limit. Even at the age of eighty-five, Caleb was still a warrior, able to fight for the nation of Israel (Josh. 14:10-11).

  • Lit., to war, or, to the army. The Hebrew word tsaba is also translated service (for the priestly work) in Num. 4:3.

  • Or, visit; muster.

  • The numbering of Israel was recognized by the authorities in three aspects: first, by Moses, signifying Christ as the Head (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18a) in His exercising His authority; second, by Aaron, signifying Christ as the High Priest (Heb. 2:17) in His carrying out His priesthood; and third, by the leaders of the twelve tribes (vv. 4-16), signifying the elders of the churches (Acts 14:23) in their taking the lead among God’s people under the headship of Christ. The deputy authorities, those delegated by God, were to recognize the things that were done according to God’s regulations.

  • Lit., declared themselves as born.

  • The Levites were not numbered among the army (vv. 47-49; 2:33). They were appointed to minister to the Tabernacle of the Testimony and encamp around it to keep it from being touched by the children of Israel (vv. 50-53).

    The fighting Israelites were the outward protection for the serving Levites, who were for the testimony of God. The formed Israelites were a type of the church as a corporate warrior fighting the battle for God’s testimony (Eph. 6:10-20). The Levites also typify the church in the aspect of its service to God. For fighting, the believers are a corporate warrior, and for serving, they are the Levites, even the priests (1 Pet. 2:5, 9).

  • For the meeting of God’s people with God, the tabernacle was called the Tent of Meeting (Num. 1:1); for the testimony of God, it was called the Tabernacle of the Testimony (vv. 50, 53). In the New Testament both Christ and the church, the enlargement of Christ, are the reality of the tabernacle in these two aspects.

  • I.e., a layman, someone who was not a Levite.

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