Numbers 9

Clear As A Cloudless Sky.

“It made no difference whether the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for two days or a month or a year, as long as the Cloud was there, they were there. And when the Cloud went up, they got up and marched. They camped at GOD’s command and they marched at GOD’s command. They lived obediently by GOD’s orders as delivered by Moses. – Numbers 9:22-23 MSG

Have you ever wanted to know God’s will for your life? I’ve often wondered what it would be like if God would just write what He wanted me to do on the wall of my office in His own handwriting. Kind of like He did for King Nebuchadnezzar (but not as scary) in Daniel 5. Here in chapter 9 of Numbers we see how God chose to lead the people of Israel. He appeared to them in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. And once the Tabernacle was constructed, God’s presence would hover over His dwelling, signifying that He was with them. As long as the cloud or pillar of fire was there, they were to remain right where they were. But as soon as the cloud or fire moved, they were to pack up and head out. It didn’t matter if the cloud was there for two days, a month or a solid year. As long as God’s presence remained, so did they. It was a pretty simple system. Or so it would seem.

But think about it. They were at the complete mercy of God. Sure, there was comfort in the fact that they could look up at any moment, day or night, and see the manifest presence of God, but they also had to be prepared at any moment, day or night, to pack up and head out – no matter how comfortable they may have gotten. And setting up camp was no easy task for the literally millions of people in their camp. The Tabernacle alone would have been a chore to erect. And if they got to a site and spent all night getting everything arranged, and then God’s presence moved, they had to pack up everything and follow. This was about obedience. Not their comfort or convenience. And the truth is, most of us already know God’s will for our lives – the real issue is that we don’t want to obey it. Because we find it inconvenient or unpractical. I think there had to be times when the people became impatient with God, wondering why He hovered over one spot for so long. They wanted to get to the Promised Land, but for some reason He had decided to stop in some obscure spot in the wilderness. And as long as He stayed, so did they. There were other times they got comfortable right where they were, only to have God’s presence move. They had to get frustrated, wondering why it was that God kept disrupting their comfort with His constant wanderings. But when God moved, they were to follow – obediently.

While the Bible doesn’t make it clear, there had to be some kind of system established for the people to know when God was moving. So they probably had sentinels set up to watch the sky over the Tabernacle 24/7. Someone had to warn the people when it moved, so they could react. The people were kept in a constant state of uncertainty, never knowing from one day to the next what their next move might be or when it might occur. So they were obliged to hold themselves in constant readiness to march on very short warning. But isn’t that how we should live our lives? Constantly waiting on God. Waiting on Him to direct our paths. Looking for His presence in our lives and seeking to know when He is moving.

God’s will is that we seek Him. God’s will is that we live for Him. God’s will is that we obey Him. We are to look for His movements in our lives. We are to seek His direction by watching Him. Today we have His Word. We can spend time in it, seeking to see Him and watching for Him to direct our paths. But too often we get comfortable and find His will for our lives inconvenient, so we ignore it. We hear Him speaking. We see the handwriting on the wall, but we refuse to do what it says. The Scriptures speak to us, but we rationalize it away as impractical or impossible. But God calls His people to obedience. He doesn’t ask us to obey when its convenient or pleasant. He expects us to move when He moves – day or night – willingly, obediently, faithfully.

Father, You are still leading us today. And Your Holy Spirit resides with us, so that we have Your presence with us at all times. We have Your Word to guide and direct us. It is NOT that we can’t see You. It is that we just don’t want to do what You are calling us to do. We find Your commands too tough at times. We think Your plans are inconvenient. But You call us to follow, not argue. Help us to live obediently. Watching and waiting for You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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