The Israelite Camp – Exodus 25:8
The Israelites’ encampment consisting of hundreds of thousands of tents surrounded the Tabernacle. And the tribes were organized in an exacting order, carefully placed at each of the 4 sides of the Tabernacle. To the East were the 3 tribes of Issachar, Judah, and Zebulun, composed of 186,400 men. To the West were Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin, consisting of 108,100 men. Camped on the North side were Asher, Dan, and Naphtali, and their 157,600 men. And to the South were the 151,400 men who composed the tribes of Simeon, Reuben, and Gad.
The Tabernacle’s primary feature was that it was highly visible in the center of the encampment of Israel. It was placed there to remind the people of God of His constant presence with them. It was there to remind the people to stay away from other gods, idolatry, and to serve YHWH and ONLY YHWH.
The Tabernacle’s purpose, it was to be a place especially clean and holy so that YHWH could dwell amongst His people. AS such, the Levites were placed closest to the Tabernacle and they were divided up by families and placed on all four sides, as an inner ring between the Tabernacle and the 12 tribes as a buffer zone.
This is the exacting depiction of our eternal home – Revelation 21:10 “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.”
The 4 dominant leader tribes, which represented all 12 tribes, each had a symbol: Judah was a Lion, Dan was an Eagle, Ephraim a Bull or Ox, and Reuben was a man.
Revelation 4:6-7 “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”
As Israel rebelled in the days prior to their exile the prophets would warn them, these warnings were delivered by the same beings.
Ezekiel 1:4-10 “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.”