Numbers 4:5-8 When the camp is to move, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain and cover the ark of the Testimony with it.  Then they are to cover this with hides of sea cows, spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles in place.  Over the table of the Presence they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings; the bread that is continually there is to remain on it.  Over these they are to spread a scarlet cloth, cover that with hides of sea cows and put its poles in place.
We were introduced to camping as an annual holiday exercise in 1976.  Although it rained for most of the two weeks we spent in the tent with (then) 3 infant children, we enjoyed it so much that it became our standard January holiday.  Even now, our 5 married children and 17 grandchildren all go camping together every year (and we join them much of the time).  It is a surprisingly restful and relaxing way to refresh ourselves.

Nevertheless, I do get quite stressed fitting everything into the car, both to go and to come home (and I must confess our ‘camping’ has gradually degenerated into ‘glamping’ over the half century we’ve been doing it!)  So when I read this chapter in Numbers, my heart really goes out to poor Moses.  It’s one thing to set up an elaborate place of worship in a camp of 2,000,000 people, but to then have to move it around from place to place for 40 years, while treating every item of it as ‘untouchably’ holy in the process, would be quite challenging.  And with the LORD’s help they managed it!

Admittedly, Moses had 5,580 middle-aged men to help him (verses 47-48), but it would still have been a most demanding, painstaking and laborious task.  I can hear the Koharthites complaining to each other, “What on earth is the point in Moses’ making us go to all this trouble – why can’t we just chuck it all in the cart?”  Half a millennium later, Uzzah would find out how important it was, at the cost of his life (2 Samuel 6:3-7)!

As I read through the Book of Numbers, I become more and more grateful to the Lord Jesus for what he has done, at the cost of his own pure life, to make it possible for me, a wretched sinner, to have free access to my thrice-holy God, without all this rigmarole.  But, reflecting on what I read moves me to take stock of how I express my attitude to my amazing privilege.  By his grace, Jesus has made me, God’s enemy, into his friend (Romans 5:10), but I must not abuse this friendship by overlooking the fact that I am still a sinner, and God, into whose presence I am invited, is still thrice-holy!
– Bruce Christian