As a teacher begins a new school year, some of the most important lessons of the year come during the first week. No, for the most part, it does not have much to do with the “three R’s” of education. However, these vital points of instruction actually make or break the classes educational quality. What are these most important points of education? They teach the young ones how to walk in line. At first glance, you probably doubt the importance of these points of procedure, but do not be fooled. They surprisingly establish the environment for learning. Training the children’s basic deportment in the classroom and in transition around the school essentially conditions the atmosphere to eliminate all distractions and maximize the teaching potential.
The Israelites are about to learn how to walk in a line, literally! They are going to learn how to sit at their desk…well, more like how to live in the camp, but the concept is the same. They have sat at the base of Mt. Sinai and learned how to worship God, now they will grow in their discipline as a nation while they learn to walk with God. They are a kindergartner of a nation, so God is going to show them how to walk and live. He will “whip them into shape” in order to eliminate all distractions and maximize their learning potential.
As you read through all the numbers and organization, consider your own life. Are there some distractions you could eliminate? Are there some extraneous activities that clutter your life so you can’t hear God clearly? Are you a little haphazard in the way you walk with God? Maybe you’re that kid who is lost in their own world and left behind in the lunch room? Or maybe you are the mischevious child always looking for a way to dash to the playground? Paul echoes the lesson of Numbers: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Is your life characterized by “order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:5)? The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. They will engage the enemy and live in maturity! Their success or failure pivots on their awareness of God’s presence and protection. Their survival depends on their appreciation of God’s provision and patience.
All of this is learned in the wilderness. Get in line. Answer “here” to the roll call. Class is about to start!