Today’s Reading: Numbers 8 – 9
Today’s Reflection: Numbers 9:16-18
16) So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. 17) And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. 18) At the command of the LORD the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the LORD they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.
This is how God literally led the children of Israel through the wilderness. Through a visible physical manifestation. A cloud by day, fire by night. When the cloud moved, the people moved. When the cloud stood still, the people stood still.
This profoundly simple illustration shows us the relationship God desires to have with each of us: He wants us to move when He moves and to remain still when He is still. If we think about it, life alternates between action and rest. There are times to work, achieve, struggle and accomplish, and there are times to pause, reflect, learn and prepare for the next challenge. Simple, yes? Then why do we constantly find ourselves out of sync with God? The problem for us is twofold:
1) We take our eyes off of God. Biblical patriarchs and prophets had relationships with God, often referred to as ‘walking with Him’. The Word says Enoch, Noah and Abraham all ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:24; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 17:1). The cloud by day, fire by night was God’s invitation to Israel to walk with Him. And God invites us to walk with Him as well (Leviticus 18:4). But we can’t do it—we won’t know when to move and when to stand still–if we’re not focused on Him. The point of bible reading, prayer, praise and Christian community isn’t religion or ritual, but relationship with God.
2) We disagree with God. There were probably times when Israel had been walking a long time, had become tired and wanted to stop, but the cloud just kept on going. And there were probably times when Israel was in a place where they were comfortable, but the cloud started to move. It is the same with us—you’re in difficult circumstances and want to leave but God is giving you every sign to stay, or you’re happily situated in a comfortable job, relationship, ministry, or whatever, when God gives you the cue to move. You might be inclined to just override His direction, convince yourself that nagging voice isn’t really Him, make up excuses or allow yourself to become deterred by distractions. Either way if we find ourselves outside of agreement with God we will find ourselves outside of His favour as well.
It comes down to faith. Do we trust God’s leading? When He says stay when there is danger, or move when there is comfort, do we really trust that He knows what is best and has our interests at heart? For those of us who do, God has given us a way to ensure we remain in His will.
Stay where the light is.