As the years go by, the more I read about the Israelites in the Old Testament, the less my heart condemns them because "my sin is ever before me" and I am aware that, in my flesh, I would have been right there with them complaining, complaining, complaining. Yes, I pray that I might have had a "different spirit" like that of Caleb and the Spirit-filled courage of Joshua...but I find myself mourning alongside of Israel's sin as I mourn over mine.
And as I think this way, I find myself reading not as an innocent bystander...but walking in their shoes, imagining life in the midst of this great assembly. What was it like to gather manna and quail, to have shoes that never wore out, and to see the awesome power of the Lord on display around every turn?
But, mostly, I have been thinking about the Cloud.
The Cloud of the Lord...His presence in the midst of His people. When it lifted they were to move on and when it rested, they were to stay. Could be just overnight, a month, or even more. They did not know from day to day when it would be time to move on....they had to live, each day, with the Cloud in view....with a readiness to go and yet, at the same time, a willing heart to stay and wait. They could not make any long term plans for themselves...the only long term plan had to be that of eyes fixed on the Cloud...on the Lord.
Oh, the similarities to our own lives as believers today! We have a Cloud without and a Cloud within! The Holy Spirit lives inside of us...convicting, counseling, illuminating...and the Lord continues to be the Cloud of glory that we are to fix our eyes on: "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith". (Hebrews 12:2) And He bids us to daily deny self, take up our cross, and follow Him. (John 9:23)
He calls us to faithful living moment by moment though we know not what the day, the week, or even the next year holds. He calls us to walk by faith because without it, we cannot please Him. He calls us to trust Him with our whole hearts and lean not on our own understanding (or plans for the future). He promises to direct our paths, in HIS timing, as we fix our eyes on the Lord.
I have to remind myself of this so often because I love to be in the "know". I like control. I like to schedule and plan. If I were an Israelite, I would have been begging God for a schedule of when the cloud would rise and settle. I often want to walk by sight instead of faith.
"...remember the former things of old,
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, "My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose..."
The end from the beginning... all that was and is and is to come has passed through His sovereign hands. Not one moment of my life will catch Him by surprise or will accomplish a different purpose than the one He intended. My Redeemer is faithful and true....and merciful, kind, and good. I live with the Cloud....and at His command I stay, and when He calls I go. When it comes right down to it, that's all I need to know!