Scripture: 16 So it was always: the cloud covered it by day[c] 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.
Observation: God leads us by day and by night to the place where He wants us to be.
Application: Sometimes we ask God for direction and sometimes it isn't exactly clear where He wants us to go. Should we take that job? Where should we go to school or where should we send our children to school? Is this the right time to buy a new house? Who needs help right now? What is the next step in my life?
The people of Israel knew exactly where to go. They knew when to stay and when to move. They had a constant visual representation of God's presence as it led them.
This commentary adds:
We first learn, in verses 15-16, that from dusk to dawn the cloud would have the appearance of fire so that the people of Israel could always see God’s presence, even during the night. Verses 17-23 have an almost poetic quality, as if the author is exalting the presence and direction of God in the life of Israel. The presence of the cloud is equated with the command of God to stay where they are or to move their camp. The system is simple: if the cloud covers the tabernacle, the Israelites are to stay encamped where they are. This could be the case for a single day, weeks, or even months. When the cloud lifted up into the sky, it was a signal to Israel to get the camp ready for movement. The people would then pack up the tabernacle, gather their belongings, decamp in an orderly and prescribed fashion, tribe by tribe, and follow the cloud (God), wherever He led. -
See more at: http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2015/04/15/commentary-on-numbers-9-10-the-israelites-leave-sinai/#sthash.rxWrnWVg.dpuf
Even with this visual reminder of God's presence, we read about the Israelites' shortcomings. They were first account witnesses to the miracles in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the daily provisions of food from Heaven. Yet....they struggled believing that God had their best interest in mind.
As Conrad and I parent our children into this new adventure of young adulthood, we are watching our children face questions about what happens next. We don't see the same physical fire by night and cloud by day that directs them into the exact place that he desires for them. For us too, it's difficult to know how much we, as their parents, should guide them. Is it our plan? or God's?
What is important to remember is that whether He is visible or invisible the truth remains that God's presence is still there for us just as it was for the Israelites. We just need to seek Him.
Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for being a guiding presence then and now. We often struggle with letting go of our own selfish desires and follow the direction You are leading. Help us to open our eyes to see You in a real way, just as the Israelites did. Remind us of Your faithfulness to get us to the destination You desire for us. Amen.