Numbers 2:34 “Thus did the people of Israel. According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so they camped by their standards, and so they set out, each one in his clan, according to his fathers’ house.”
1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
It is interesting to note how much of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) consists of various detailed instructions that God gave Israel through His servant Moses. We see very specific instructions about such things as the various sacrifices, the construction of the tabernacle, the details of the clothing to be worn by the priests, foods that were to be eaten, and the various feast days that were to be celebrated. In the book of Numbers, we see detailed instructions about the conduct of a census of all the Israelites as they started out on their wilderness journey. We also see very specific instructions about how the 12 tribes of Israel were to camp around the tabernacle, what the duties were of the various Levite families, and how they were to march in a very organized manner as they moved from one place to another. In all of this God was prescribing a very specific order and organization as to how He wanted His people to conduct themselves. With all of this we see one of the attributes of God – that He is a God of order. We see this from the very beginning. At first, we are told that the earth “was without form and void,” but then God spoke life and order into the Creation. Throughout history man has marveled at the order that exists throughout the universe, from the movement of the planets, to the organization of the systems and cells within the human body, to the inner workings of the atom.
In the New Testament God gave specific instructions regarding how the church was to function, i.e., as to its order. In the verse above from 1 Corinthians, Paul is telling that church, which at the time was full of strife and confusion, that that disorder was a sign that they were out of the will of God for them. He tells them later in the same letter that when they came together to worship “all things should be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). He commended the church at Colosse, and rejoiced at their “good order (Colossians 2:5).”
James tells us that “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice (James 3:16).” All of this to say that wherever we see disorder, confusion, and chaos, it is a sign that it is not God that is preeminent in that situation, but something else. As one example of this, we see the rioting and chaos that resulted in the city of Ephesus when Paul preached the gospel there. As gospel truth invaded the idolatry that was so prevalent in that city, we are told that “some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together (Acts 19:32).” At the trial of Jesus, we see this same sort of thing. Here, as the witnesses spoke against Him, we are told “many bore false witness against Him, but their testimony did not agree (Mark 14:56).”
Chaos, confusion, rioting, disorder – it’s a sure mark that the enemy of our souls is influencing the situation, rather than the God Who would have all things function decently and in order. Therefore, wherever we see disorder – be it rioting in the streets, chaotic practices in church service (like people falling over who are supposedly “slain in the Spirit,” and wild babbling of those supposedly “speaking in tongues”), disorganization and messiness in an office or in our own homes, or confusion of mind, it may be time to pause and talk to the God Who is not a God of confusion, and seek His perspective on things. You see, “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:17-18).”
Peace, order, organization – that’s what our Lord is about, and that’s what we who claim to be following Him should be about as well. It’s a fundamental attribute of the God Who created all things – and Who the enemy of our souls has worked to oppose and disrupt from the very beginning of time.