V. THE SECTIONS
The book of Numbers has three sections: being formed into an army (1:1—9:14), journeying (9:15—20:29; 21:4-20; 33:1-49), and fighting (21:1-3; 21:21—32:42; 33:50—36:13).
The fulfillment of God’s intention to gain a people and to have them formed into an army was not a simple matter. This army was formed with twelve tribes. It is wonderful that Jacob had exactly twelve sons, who became twelve tribes. Among these twelve tribes, Levi was consecrated to God for the service of the tabernacle. As a result, there was the shortage of one tribe. However, this shortage was made up by Joseph’s receiving a double portion through his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who filled the gap to keep the number of tribes at twelve. Furthermore, within the consecrated tribe of Levi was the house of Aaron, the priestly house. Levi had three sons who encamped around three sides of the tabernacle. Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons encamped at the front of the tabernacle. Such a camping of the children of Israel in array was marvelous.
Before the children of Israel were formed into an army, the whole earth had been taken over by God’s enemy. But in Numbers we see that one race, the race of Israel, was saved, sanctified, and formed and arranged into an army. This was a shame to the enemy.
No human mind could have written a book such as Numbers. There are many other records of the formation of armies, but there is none like the record in Numbers. Only God could write such a record and provide the persons needed to form such an army. The persons in this army take Christ as their everything—their meaning of life, their testimony, their center, and their Leader, their way, and their goal.
(Life-Study of Numbers, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)