I came across Numbers chapter nine in my Bible reading plan this week. Verses 15-23 talk about the time when Israel had left Egypt and was wandering in the desert. Their method of when to camp and when to walk was totally dependent upon God.
Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. At the command of the LORD the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the LORD they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would keep the LORDâ€™S charge and not set out. If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, according to the command of the LORD they remained camped. Then according to the command of the LORD they set out. If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out. Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they kept the LORDâ€™S charge, according to the command of the LORD through Moses
I’ve got to be honest, some of this sounds incredibly appealing to me.
Having God visibly show me where to go? When to stay? Never wondering if I’m off on my own? Most of us have had a moment when we wished God would visibly or audibly direct us.
While God doesn’t work in this tangible way with giant cloud anymore, the reality is that His Spirit serves the same role for us. God’s Spirit guides us and leads us just like the cloud. He also tells us when we need to relax and stay put. The problem for many of us is that it is far easier to ignore an intangible leading than it is with a cloud and with fire. As a result, we often chart our own course, even in disobedience, and then wonder why we experience the things we do.
I’m not arguing that God has a specific map for every detail of our lives. I think He lives much of it up to us. I’m arguing that if we would look for His Spirit to lead us in any given moment of any given day we’d find that we are not as alone or isolated as we may feel.
The question for each of us is whether we’re following Him or expecting Him to follow us.