Chapter 8: The lighting of and continual burning of the lamps in the tabernacle symbolized the consecration of the Levites, who were to represent the whole nation as lights to the world. The high priest was in charge of the lampstand. This is was the final task before the journey, setting apart the Levites as the priesthood.
Finally…The anniversary of the Passover (Exodus 12). How fitting that this too is an exodus, this time from being camped in the wilderness at Sinai. God graciously allows all to participate, even though some are considered unclean(exposure to a corpse), he has a plan for an alternate date.
The time had come for the Israelites to resume their journey, now that the people had celebrated the Passover. All that remained for the Israelites to know was how God would lead them. The trumpets are sounded: “When a trumpet blast is sounded, the tribes camping on the east are to set out.” The first tribe to lead was “east”, that would be Judah. “When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies.”
The cloudy pillar stood over the tabernacle. It lifted and in the tribal arrangement order, they marched. The GPS says: you will reach your destination in 11 days! The cloud leads them toward Kadesh Barnea.
As the nation left Mt. Sinai, the people were at their strongest spiritually, having received the Law and having committed themselves to following it faithfully. What could go wrong??
The first 10 chapters of Numbers contrast with the next 10, which record Israel’s terrible regression and failure..