In Parshas Bamidbar we see the plans for the layout of the Israelite camp, the circular pattern that echoed the positions of the sons of Yaakov as they carried his coffin to its eternal resting place. The torah goes through each tribe and lists how many there were and in which direction they should camp. But, wait ! Didn't the Torah just list a regular census in which every tribe was counted ? Why count the Jewish people twice in as many chapters ? ( Census 1 is written in perek alef while the camp layout, and it's population register, is recorded in perek beis)
To answer this seeming redundancy, we must ask ourselves as to the purpose of the census to begin with. Rashi, commenting on the first accounting, tells us that the census was an expression of love. Hashem loves us and therefore counts us frequently as a demonstration of His affection. When something is precious we are constantly aware of how much of it we have. (This would also explain why an Omniscient G-d would need to perform a count to know how many yidden there are. He doesn't. The act of counting is a show of love.) That is why this census was taken in the tribes' birth order. Hashem loves us, not just for what we do, but for who we are – and we came into being in that order.
The second accounting, highlighted a different aspect of the Jewish nation, our differing roles. There are twelve tribes because there is a need for many distinct types of yidden. Not everyone was born to lead like Yehudah or guard the Mishkan like Levi. There are scholars like Yissachar and merchants like Zevulun. And they all have their unique place in the tapestry of Jewish communal life.
By listing the different locations of each tribe the Torah is emphasizing our distinct identities. But by counting the Jews for a second time, along with giving them their "marching orders", the Torah is stating unequivocally that Hashem's affection for us is unconditional to us fulfilling those roles. Yes, we each have a unique place in the camp that we must shore up and support. But, no, our place amongst G-d's beloved children isn't dependant on that. Hashem begins by counting us – just for who we are – and only afterwards counting us for what we should, and could, do.