The people move up to a new place, Shiloh, and gather there. Judah and the sons of Joseph have been assigned their share in Gilgal, where the people have so far been together as a whole. There stood also the tabernacle, in which God dwelled in their midst. Now the tent of meeting is set up at Shiloh, which means ‘peace’. Shiloh is located in the center of the land.
In the spiritual development of a believer we see the next step in the ascending from Gilgal to Shiloh. First Gilgal, then Shiloh. In Gilgal we get to know the flesh and the judgment about it. In Shiloh there is a sharing in the rest of God.
The advance to Shiloh is worked by God. He wants to dwell in that place and have His people with Him. It will be a temporary dwelling place in the land. In the time that Eli is judge, God leaves Shiloh (1Sam 4:1-111Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek.2The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield.3When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.”4So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts who sits [above] the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, [were] there with the ark of the covenant of God.5As the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded.6When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What [does] the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews [mean]?” Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp.7The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before.8Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all [kinds of] plagues in the wilderness.9Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.”10So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.11And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.; Psa 78:6060So that He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh,
The tent which He had pitched among men,
). Until that time, that is for about three hundred years, the tent is in Shiloh. There God makes His name dwell, but He leaves because of the wickedness of Israel: “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel” (Jer 7:1212“But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.).
This reminds us of Deuteronomy 12, where we read of God’s command to His people that they will seek Him where He establishes His Name to dwell (Deu 12:55But you shall seek [the LORD] at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.). That takes effort. For us, it means investigating Scripture to get to know that place. It is not a place where you feel good, but where the Lord Jesus is in the midst (Mt 18:2020For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”). That place must be found in the Word.
Shiloh is a provisional fulfillment of what will be fully fulfilled in Jerusalem. Did Israel find that place? They have not been aware that it is Jebus. Only David finds it in his heart when he thinks about it in the fields of Ephrathah (Psa 132:66Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah,
We found it in the field of Jaar.
). Jerusalem lies between Benjamin and Judah. Shiloh lies in Ephraim, rather central.
To some extent, the people have found peace in Shiloh. Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is a benevolent atmosphere in which harmony is found. The true Shiloh for us is where the true Shiloh, the Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Gen 49:1010“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him [shall be] the obedience of the peoples.
; Isa 9:55For every boot of the booted warrior in the [battle] tumult,
And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
), is present.
In Numbers “the tent of meeting” is also called “the tent of testimony”. That name is connected to the wilderness journey, where all the tribes around the tent have set up their camp. The order of the tribes is arranged in connection with the tent. It has to do with our testimony to the world. In the land the tent is called “the tent of meeting”. The people dwell in the land in connection with the center, the place where God dwells and where He would like to meet with His people.