READY TO GO
Lord, thank You for Your guidance.
Read NUMBERS 9:15–23
The Cloud Above the Tabernacle
15 On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Forward! be our watchword, / Steps and voices joined; / Seek the things before us, Not a look behind” (Henry Alford, 1810–1871).
All over the world today there are people who will have to change where they live at a moment’s notice. For some it will be for positive reasons—to be closer to family or to secure better employment. For others it will be more sobering—in order to avoid war or famine.
The Israelites in this passage need to be ready to move instantly. We are left in no doubt as to what prompt they must respond to. At least seven times in these verses we read of “the Lord’s command” (8,19,20,23). The same obedience that in verses 1–14 causes them to stand still and wait for the Lord’s answer (8) is required when it comes to moving forward in their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. God graciously gives them a cloud that covers the tabernacle by day and a fire that appears above it by night (15,16). With this they can be sure that the Lord is with them and will lead them. When the cloud arises, so must the people; then they journey until it rests, the point when they could rest too. Sometimes that means many days in stationary status. At other times it means many days on the move, sometimes beginning such a journey even at night (21). As God’s people, they must respond to his call whenever it comes.
As God’s New Testament people, the same call reaches us today. We are pilgrims traveling toward our reward, the heavenly country. Any roots that we put down need to be subject to the command of our Lord, too! With the promise of his continual presence comes the command to live for and move with him.
We do not have the cloud and fire, so how does God reveal himself today? Where will we hear the command of the Lord?
Lord, we understand that as the Captain of our Salvation, You lead us as You see fit, and we need to willingly follow.
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