The Camp & Courtyard



Wednesday 02/21/18 

Message – The Camp & Courtyard

Series: Thru the Bible – Exodus

***Video is HERE***




The CampNumbers 1-3

There was never to be a census of the Levites AS numbered AMONG the children of Israel.

In chapter 2 of Numbers Israel’s men of 20 years and older (all who could go to war) were counted and the number was – 603,550 ~ Num. 1:46.

  • The Levites – This tribe was comprised of three families which were called by the names of their patriarchal head….Gershon, Kohath & Merari. The According to Numbers 3:5-39, the 3 families lived between the other tribes and the tabernacle. It does NOT clarify whether these families were INSIDE or OUTSIDE of the courtyard. The wording would lead one to believe it was IN the courtyard within the courtyard’s curtain walls, the size of the courtyard however, almost demands that they were OUTSIDE of that barrier since the tribe of Levi included 22,300+.

This would also, bear out with the fact that the other tribes were to camp a good distance from the Tabernacle of Meeting. Of course, their historically being stiff-necked also may have played a part in the Levites, quite literally, standing between them and God.

Num. 2:2,  “Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father’s house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting.”

They were arranged as follows:

    • Gershonites – Camped behind the tabernacle which is on the west side. – Num. 3:23
    • Kohathites – Camped on the south side of the tabernacle. – Num 3:29  
    • Merari – Camped on the north side of the tabernacle. – Num. 3:35
    • Moses, Aaron & sons – Camped on the East side of the tabernacle. – Num. 3:38

The Tribes & their locations

East: Moses, Aaron & sons

  • Judah  – Closest to the Outer court wall (entrance) –74,600
    • Position around tabernacle: East (Num. 2:3-9)
    • Birth Order – 4 (Gen. 29:35)
    • Meaning: “I will praise” (Gen. 29:35)
    • Mother: Leah = Weary
    • Color: Sky blue
    • Stone: Carbuncle (turquoise?) (Exod. 28:18)
    • Associated symbol: Lion (Gen. 49:9)
    • Banner: The color of his flag resembled that of the heavens, embroidered on it was a lion.


  • Issachar54,400
    • Birth order: 9 (Gen. 30:18)
    • Meaning: “there is recompense” (Gen. 30:18)
    • Mother: Leah = Weary
    • Color:
    • Stone: Amethyst (Exod. 28:19)
    • Associated symbol: Donkey (Gen. 49:14)
    • Position around tabernacle: east (Num. 2:3-9)
    • Banner: The color of his flag was black like stibium (antimony); embroidered on it were the sun and the moon.


  • Zebulun57,400
    • Birth order: 10 (Gen. 30:19)
    • Meaning: “exalted”(Gen. 30:20)
    • Mother: Leah = Weary
    • Color: White
    • Stone: Beryl (Exod. 28:20)
    • Associated symbol: ships (Gen. 49:13)
    • Position around tabernacle: east (Num. 2:3-9)
    • Banner: The color of his flag was white, with a ship embroidered on it.


South: Kohathites 8,600

  • Reuben 46,500
    • Birth order: 1 (Gen. 29:32)
    • Meaning: “He has seen” (Gen. 29:32)
    • Mother: Leah = Weary
    • Color: Red
    • Stone: Ruby (Exod. 28:17)
    • Associated symbol: Water (Gen. 49:4)
    • Position around tabernacle: south (Num. 2:10-16)
    • Banner: The color of his flag was red, and embroidered on it were mandrakes.
  • Simeon 59,300
    • Birth order: 2 (Gen. 29:33)
    • Meaning: “He has heard”(Gen. 29:33)
    • Mother: Leah = Weary
    • Color: Green
    • Stone: Topaz (Exod. 28:17)
    • Associated symbol: Shechem (Gen. 49:5)
    • Position around tabernacle: south (Num. 2:10-16)
    • Banner: His flag was green with the town of Shechem embroidered on it.
  • Gad 45,650
    • Birth order: 7 (Gen. 30:10-11)
    • Meaning: “troop” (Gen. 30:11)
    • Mother: Zilpah = a trinkling
    • Color: Black and White
    • Stone: Jacinth (Exod. 28:19)
    • Associated symbol:
    • Position around tabernacle: south (Num. 2:10-16)
    • Banner: The color of his flag was neither black nor white but a blend of black and white; on it was embroidered a camp

West: Gershonites 7,500

  • Ephraim 40,500
    • Birth order: n/a
    • Meaning: “Fruitful”
    • Mother: Asenath (Joseph’s wife)
    • Color:
    • Stone:
    • Associated symbol: Bullock
    • Position around tabernacle: west (Num. 2:18-24)
    • Banner: A bullock was embroidered on his flag.
  • Manasseh 32,200
    • Birth order: n/a
    • Meaning: “causing to forget” (Exod. 41:51)
    • Mother: Asenath (Joseph’s wife)
    • Color:
    • Stone:
    • Associated symbol: Wild ox
    • Position around tabernacle: west (Num. 2:18-24)
    • Banner: A wild ox was embroidered on his flag.











  • Benjamin 35,400
    • Birth order: 12 (Gen. 35:17)
    • Meaning: “Son of my right hand”
    • Mother: Rachel = Ewe
    • Color: Mixed
    • Stone: Jasper (Exod. 28:20)
    • Associated symbol: Wolf (Gen. 49:27)
    • Position around tabernacle: west (Num. 2:18-24)
    • Banner: The color of his flag was a combination of all the twelve colors; embroidered on it was a wolf.

North: Merari – 6,200

  • Dan 62,700
    • Birth order: 5 (Gen. 30:5)
    • Meaning: “Judged”/”Vindicated – a judge” (Gen. 30:6)
    • Mother: Bilhah = Troubled
    • Color: Blue
    • Stone: Sapphire (Exod. 28:18)
    • Associated symbol: Judge/Scales (Gen. 49:16), serpent (Gen. 49:17)
    • Position around tabernacle: north (Num. 2:25-31)
    • Banner: The color of his flag was similar to sapphire; embroidered on it was a serpent


  • Asher41,500
    • Birth order: 8 (Gen. 30:12-13)
    • Meaning: “Happy” (Gen. 30:13)
    • Mother: Zilpah = a trinkling
    • Color:
    • Stone: Agate (Exod. 28:19)
    • Associated symbol: Abundant food (Gen. 49:20)
    • Position around tabernacle: north (Num. 2:25-31)
    • Banner: The color of his flag was like the precious stone with which women adorn themselves embroidered thereon was an olive tree
  • Naphtali53,400
    • Birth order: 6 (Gen. 30:7)
    • Meaning: “wrestling”/ “twisting” (Gen. 30:8)
    • Mother: Bilhah = Troubled
    • Color: medium red
    • Stone: Diamond (Exod. 28:18)
    • Associated symbol: Hind/Doe (Gen. 49:21)
    • Position around tabernacle: north (Num. 2:25-31)
    • Banner: the color of his flag was like clarified wine of a not very deep red; on it was embroidered a hind

[Rachel = Ewe; Bilhah = Troubled; Leah = Weary; Zilpah = a trinkling]

The Courtyard:

Exodus 27:9-19/38:9-20/40:33

As I told you last week, according to 2Chron. 3:3, it appears Israel was using the Egyptian standard of measurement for a cubit during the wilderness wanderings, that being approximately 20.6”.

Only symbolism I can imagine is for the wall around the courtyard is a separation (sanctification) of all that is holy as opposed to the congregation.

The symbolism for the metals and materials is a bit up for grabs, but the linen we know was pure white and the attachments and bases for the pillars were bronze and silver. Bronze and silver together “may” represent eventual freedom from sin by those things within the courtyard.

So the Courtyard wall would have been approximately 172’ x 86’ x 8.5’. The square footage would be about 14,792’ sq. ft. (around 1/3rd of an acre).

The Gate was 34’ x 8.5’ ~ Jn. 10:9 (Jesus is the gate – not same but…) having passed through the tribe of Judah and under their banner – The Lion of the tribe of Judah

Bronze Altar –  Exod. 27:1-8/31:9 (Oholiab & Bezalel make the Lazer)/38:1-7/40:6, 29

Dimensions: 8.5’ x 8.5’ x 5’

  • Hebrew word for altar is Mizbake – place of slaughter

Brazen LaverExodus 30:17-21/38:8/40:7,8,11,12,30-32

No dimensions given.

    • Washing hands and feet before entering the Tabernacle. Ps. 24:3-6/Jn. 13:3-10
    • Also remember that last week we mentioned that part of the materials for Bronze was brought by the women who gave of their mirrors.
    • Water of the WordEph 5:26 “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,” & Titus 3:5-7, “(5) not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,  (6)  whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  (7)  that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
  • 2Cor. 3:12-18 – Our reflection in God’s word is the Glory of God.
  • Heb. 10:19-22,  “(19) Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,  (20)  by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,  (21)  and having a High Priest over the house of God,  (22)  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”


The Symbolism

That all of these things are symbolic is made clear over and over throughout both testaments of the Bible.

For now, I would like to introduce just one of many “possible” symbolisms this picture of the wilderness camps & tabernacle represent.

We divide the whole into 5 categories…5 being the number largely associated with grace (for reasons unknown to me)…


Remember that before the temple was built Israel and God had come to terms regarding the nature of their relationship.

God wanted to draw near to them on the mountain and speak with them directly – but Israel would NOT have it. The wanted Moses to be their mediator – which is why it was SO ironic that they later complained saying that Moses and the sons of Levi took too much authority on themselves – Num. 16:1-7.


In response this AND Israel’s rebellion, God was NOT going to go with them to the promised land lest He lash out against them. So, Moses took his tent and camped FAR outside the camp and called his personal tent – the tabernacle of meeting – Ex. 33:7. If anyone wanted to inquire of God, they had to leave the congregation and approach God outside of the camp. This was a good move and one of necessity, but symbolically it was completely inappropriate. GOD should be center and man revolve around HIM.


So in the creation of the camp and tabernacle we have 5 concentric spheres of relationship with God – largely, designated by delegated authority from God.

  1. The Outer camp
  2. The Levites
  3. The Courtyard
  4. The Tabernacle of Meeting
  5. The Holiest of Holies


The Outer Camp

At the farthest point away from God were the tribes in sets of three surrounding the tabernacle.

– 3 is the number for perfection.

– 4 is possibly the number of for creation, but I think also of perspective (4 corners of earth, four gospels, four living creatures, four seasons…etc.)

– 12 is the number for government.


So you have the government of Israel divided into 4 groups of 3.


Of course you should remember that the closest within each of the tribes to the tabernacle were it’s elders.


The closest of the 12 tribes were:

  • Judah (Praised)
  • Reuben (Behold a son – the excellence of power, dignity & strength – 1st of my might)
  • Ephraim (twice as fruitful)
  • Dan (God has judged).


The Levites

Between them and the outer courtyard wall were the tribes of the sons of Aaron, Aaron himself & Moses covering the eastern entrance.

  • Moses & Aaron – drawn & light bringer
  • Kohath – Assembly
  • Gershon – Exile
  • Merari – Bitter

In the circuit beginning from east to north it paints a picture of redemption…

Drawn out and bringing Light


  • God be Praised


To the assembly of My people


  • Behold a Son is born, He is the excellence of power, dignity & strength – the First of My Might


In Exile


  • He will be twice as fruitful in the assembly


It is bitter to the Lord


  • God has judged!



Of course it is of great significance that the entrance to the courtyard was Judah, Moses & Aaron.


Judah because his name means praise, and the scriptures tell us to “come into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with Praise, be thankful unto Him and bless His name.” ~ Ps. 100:4


Moses because no one can come to God unless God has drawn him.


Aaron because as High Priest, he represent Christ in a special way and was known as the light bringer. “The entrance of His Word, brings light” ~ Ps. 119:130


All of this conspires together to paint a picture of the process of coming out of the world into the presence and experience of God in relationship and union.


The Courtyard

Once you come to the gate of the courtyard you are faced with the altar.

When God draws us out of the world He does so, by and TO His son.

John 12:27-32  “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.  (28)  Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”  (29)  Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”  (30)  Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.  (31)  Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  (32)  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

John 3:14-15  “(14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  (15)  that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

The first thing a person encounters when drawn by God from the world, is the sacrifice of God’s Son. You can proceed NO further until you lay your hand on the Son – identify with Him in His sacrifice, both receiving it’s substitutionary power through surrender to His Lordship, and by entering into that death with Him by faith.

The next thing you see is the brazen laver filled with water (and blood).

When first filled it was filled with water, once used it was filled with filth, water & blood.

For the Old Testament believer this represented looking through the water of God’s word and seeing their reflection in sin. For the New Testament believer, this water is stained with the filth of our former existence, the water of Christ’s birth and the blood of His death – we ourselves are clean.

John 13:6-10, “(6) Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”  (7)  Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”  (8)  Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”  (9)  Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”  (10)  Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

There is more information in the audio/video of the actual message. I hope you listen, learn and enjoy!



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Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!