“And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed.
And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.
Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. (Numbers 9v 20-22)”
So it is many times as we make our own trek along life’s journey, in some seasons our walk resembles that of trudging through a wilderness. All around us is bare desert and our eyes long for the sight of an oasis surrounded by magnificent palm trees. Our hearts yearn to reach the promised envisioned destination as our eyes and hearts weary of seeing the thorny cactus all around. It is at such times that the waiting season tries to the core and the mind is tempted to forget our true oasis at all points along our travels, God. It is He who walks with us, and as such sympathizes with the difficulty of our journeying to the Promised Land. He lovingly gives the faithful assurance yes, the journey is hard
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).”
In the midst of trying, uncertain circumstances we may find ourselves desperately crying out “ancient Israel had a pillar of cloud by day that had the appearance of fire by night, therefore they enjoyed clearer instruction of God’s leading than we do”. But not so Friend. The Bible makes clear that although currently we do not have a physically visible cloud before us to lead the way, God has suffered us no less provision than they. Psalms 119: 105 tells us “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. And so beloved child of God, it is to us to read precept upon precept, line upon line and apply the abundant instruction that our loving Creator has given by holy men of God as they were moved through the power of the Holy Spirit to pen His personalized love letter to you and I(Isaiah 28:10, 2 Peter 1:21). This love letter known as the Holy Bible is a pillar of cloud by day that has the appearance of fire by night.
There are some rich lessons to be considered, cherished and put into practice in our lives that will prove to guide us all our days until we shall be home at last, forever with our Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17)! As we delve on some of these lessons, let us continue to implore the Holy Spirit to continue to open our understanding to many more as we press on our pilgrimage.
Obedience is Paramount
Verses 18 & 19 of Numbers Chapter 9 make it decidedly clear who set the cloud before the once enslaved nation making their way to the Promised Land. It reads, “At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not.” You and I as redeemed children of God have been set free from the slavery of sin. As the Lord has separated our sins from us as far as the east is from the west, so He has separated us physically from sinful habits, tastes and inclinations. By virtue of this incredible victory He achieves on our behalf, He reserves the right to command us and we in gratitude to offer unquestioning obedience to His leadership. It behooves us, on penalty of once again being entangled in sin which inevitably will lead to death, to be careful never to move ahead of the cloud God has set before us. We are subject to move ahead when we give in to doubt, justify our willful actions and or blatantly disregard the commandments God has graciously set forth for our protection. When we move ahead of God’s protective cloud, we willfully choose to forfeit His protection. While the journey may be prolonged, the wait seem unending, the safest place to be is behind and under the cloud!
Don’t miss the journey of abundant miracles
So often we are tempted to focus on the destination, so much so that we miss the miracles occurring in rapid succession around us along the journey. These miracles are given by a loving Heavenly Father, intended to comfort and encourage us as we journey, yet all too often they are ignored and at times even loathed. Oh the pain that we would endure if we presented our loved one a gift only to watch them throw it in the trash right before our eyes or rip it into pieces in critical talk. But how often it is that we jolt unimaginable stabs into the very heart of God when we choose to turn our hearts from embracing His gifts. The Bible gives clear account that while the Israelites journeyed those 40 years in the wilderness, their clothes and shoes did not wear out, their feet did not swell, and they ate “angels’ food”(Psalm 78 verse 24-25) that rained down from heaven six days a week and sweet waters to quench their thirst to name but a few miracles. I don’t know what wilderness place or season of waiting you face today. It could be you are waiting for employment and have been out of a job for a while, and the days are long and the nights sleepless. It seems all joy has been swallowed up by wondering when your break through will come. Could it be that while God has changed His manner of provision for you from receiving a reliable paycheck yet somehow even now meeting all your needs that the miracles have been lost on you. The fact that you somehow have a roof over your head after all these months, food on the table at each meal, clothes on your back that still cause even others who are presently employed to admire your sense of style and wonder in their hearts just how you are making it. God is calling us to refocus on the miracles He explodes moment by moment as He walks us through to our intended good end (Jeremiah 29:11).
Move as directed, even when it makes no sense
Verse 22 of Numbers chapter 9 offers up some interesting insight that can leave us pondering God really….move now? It reads “……then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed”. I am pretty sure many of us wouldn’t mind travelling during the day. As we are not nocturnal creatures by nature, our minds are alert by day, we can sight see along travels and we seem to have a sense of security and many times “sense of control” when we can see around us in the light of day. But what must have been the thought when suddenly at 3am the trumpet sounded all throughout the camp of Israel that the cloud was moving which meant everyone moves! Friend God will not stop, or move at any point in any manner in accordance to our convenience or preference in our lives. This is not to say He does not take into consideration our comforts and desires what is best. This is to say He knows best, see’s what we do not see and because He has our protection and best interests at heart, He at times moves in ways that may seem to us all together inconvenient. But ours is to surrender, get up, and move following our Shepard wherever He leads (Psalm 23).
Endure the wait…patiently
It takes diligent watchfulness and unceasing prayer to be able to wait upon God to manifest His promises in our lives. Humanity is keenly impatience by nature, which is why patience is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit that God has to give us when we surrender to His lead (Galatians 5:22-23). Our natural heart is enmity to patience; we despise it and demand instant gratification. And so the Lord in His infinite mercy, as He prepares us to live in His presence among obedient, sinless angels and unfallen worlds, has afforded us wilderness journeys to mold our characters to His likeness. Why is it that so often the very best gifts God has for us, we are so prone to view in our own wisdom as curses? I will paraphrase what Margaret Davis writes in her book What shall I do to inherit Eternal Life?, as she records what should be humanity’s urgent prayer for God “to remove the obscure glasses that Satan has placed on our eyes and anoint our eyes with eye salve that we may truly see.” The account is given in verse 22 of Numbers chapter 9 that “ Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.”
In the Lord’s wisdom, some prayers may take two days to be answered, some a month, some we wait and appear stagnant in the trenches for years, and yet, we must wait. Often we do not know why the Lord has made us wait. We do not understand why the Lord decided that the cloud should come and rest in this particular time or place in our lives. In our own wisdom we want to scream “Lord, we should keep moving!” But the lesson to be learned is to do as the Israelites did when the cloud came to a standstill in their journeys, we are told they did not move ahead an inch, they stayed and abode in their tents, kept the Lord’s command, enjoyed His “while you wait miracles” and journeyed not! Friend, in the presence of the Lord as you and I wait let us “Be still and know that He is God” (Proverbs 46:10)
No explanation guaranteed
As we read the whole account of Israel’s journeys, we never stumble upon any verses where God gives explanation to Moses, Joshua or the prophets He raised up among them to give explanation for the reason why each time the cloud rested at a certain place or why it moved at particular times or at intervals that would otherwise not make sense to the following travelers. So it is with us. There are moments along our journey where this side of Heaven we will not understand the whys, delays and or waiting periods in our lives nor times God moves us. Our job is to make our call and election sure so that we will prove by action and obedience that truly we follow the Lamb wherever He goes and therefore await our sure reward of salvation (2 Peter 1:10, Revelation 17:14).
Friend let us stay steadfast and let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.(Galatians 6:9).
Keep the charge of the Lord! (Numbers 9:23).
You can read Wilderness Lessons Part 1 – HERE.