I was young when I was taught to play chess. The first thing any child learns about chess is how to place the board and its pieces. The most important piece is the king who stands back and right center so as to be protected by all the other pieces. To the left of the king is the most powerful piece, the queen, who stands on the king's left.
As one sketches the assignments of the camp arrangement of Israel's tribes, it is interesting to note that the tabernacle, the meeting place of God, stands in the center of the camp. To the right of the tabernacle (east) are the tents of Moses and Aaron and family. South, west and north are the sons of Levi, standing guard and serving the tabernacle. Then, in rows consisting of three tribes each, the other tribes of Israel are placed, with Judah leading those on the east, Reuben leading those on the south, Ephraim in charge of those on the west (along with all the descendants of Joseph and Benjamin) and Dan leading the tribes on the north. Thus we not only see the formation of the encampment, but most likely the formation for battle. The tabernacle, the priests and those who serve, tend and carry the tabernacle are able to break out to the front to lead in any direction but are protected in the center from any attack.
All the tabernacle poles, veils and sacred furnishings are neatly tended to. They are wrapped in the sacred colored fabrics and covered with porpoise skin (in order to keep them dry when marching) and carried on poles so as never to be touched by human hands, other than those of sanctified priests. They also are to never touch the ground. An entire tribe is set aside from war and its duties, in order to tend to the things of God.
All of this detail in Numbers sifts down to this question for me:
Where is God placed on the board of my life?
And where am I in relationship to God? How do the activities, relationships and other aspects of my life stand in formation in relation to God's position?
How much of my time, energy and treasure is set aside to tend the things of God? To serve Him? To perform the duties for Him and for the whole congregation? and to do the service of the house of God? (Numbers 3:6-7)
Are the precious things of God protected or left to be ravaged by the other time commitments, energy users and treasure spending aspects of my life?
And as I move about in the world, how do I prepare the things of God to travel with me? Do I treat them with great care and holiness, or do I carelessly toss them into my push cart?
Does God even go with me where I am going?
And who leads the way? God? or me?
Each one of us must learn to set up our lives, to order them, to place all our pieces properly. Perhaps, this is necessary before we even begin to try to play the game...