We used to sing an old hymn called The Wonderful Cross, containing these words: Oh the wonderful Cross, oh the wonderful Cross; All who gather here by grace, draw near and bless Your name. Indeed, many old hymns referenced the cross, and we would do well to meditate on the significance of the cross. After all, it is the symbol of our association with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
There is much to know about this beloved symbol of Christianity. It reminds us of the great sacrifice of Jesus to pay the debt for our sin. When understanding the cross, we fully engage the “healthy tension” between God’s grace and righteousness. Some have deep understanding of the cross, but over the next 3 days we will consider 3 unique things about the cross. Here is the first:
During desert wandering, the tribes of Israel set up camp in the formation of the cross. Numbers 2 provides the Lord’s instructions regarding positioning of the 12 tribes as they camped around the tabernacle. Interestingly, tribes did not have equal numbers, and God specifically arranged their positions around the tabernacle. Here is a breakdown, in the order given in Numbers 2
- On the east: Judah (74,600), Issachar (54,400) and Zebulun (57,400) = 186,400 (These tribes always led the procession.)
- On the south: Reuben (56,500), Simeon (59,300) and Gad (54,650) = 151,450
- On the west: Ephraim (40,500), Manasseh (32,200) and Benjamin (35,400) = 108,100
- On the north: Dan (62,700), Asher (41,500) and Naphtali (53,400) = 157,600
Go ahead…draw it out in centimeters: 18.6 cm downward, 10.8 cm upward, 15.1 cm to one side, 15.7 cm to the other. What do you see?
Friends, God is not into coincidences! Before the foundation of the world He knew everything about us, so it is no problem for Him to ordain just the right numbers to array the Israelites in the formation of a cross. Thus, every time they camped, there was consistent placement of tribes so that the cross was always present with them!
Though the cross had made its appearance for generations, the significance of the cross was not fully on display until the Lamb of God was sacrificed there for our sins! What a fantastic nugget of truth about the cross!
Be sure to check back tomorrow as we share the second of three unique things to know about the cross!