Shortly after graduating from high school, I entered the United States Air Force. When I joined the Air Force, I hoped to complete my education and see the world. Like many young people, I also wanted to leave the confines of my life in what I saw was a small town in Maryland. One of the most difficult parts of basic training was marching in sync with a flight of men. When we ran together in formation, it was even more difficult. The problem was that everyone wanted to go at their own pace. 

In Exodus, the Lord went ahead of the Israelites in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. By the time we get into Numbers, and the tabernacle has been built, we see something slightly different than the pillar of clouds and fire.

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.

Numbers 9:15 (NIV)

The cloud now rested upon the tabernacle by day and looked like fire at night. This is one change from the pillar that we saw in Exodus. We also see another behavior that wasn’t noted in Exodus.

Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.

Numbers 9:17 (NIV)

When the cloud moved, the people moved, and when the cloud stopped, the people stopped. We know the people weren’t just following the movement of any random cloud, as we can see from Numbers 9:18-19.

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. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out.

Numbers 9:18-19 (NIV)

It was the Lord who told the people when to move, and when to stay. Moses and the people knew where they were going. The Lord had made a promise to them about a very specific place. However, instead of simply traveling as far as they could each day and then resting at night, picking up again the next day, and so on. They did something we might find strange. 

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. 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. 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.

Numbers 9:20-22 (NIV)

Perhaps we don’t find it strange that the people only moved when God moved. That’s good because we shouldn’t. We should want to move when God tells us to move and stop when God tells us to stop. The problem is we don’t. Verse 22 tells us it could be a couple of days, a month, or even a year of sitting in the same place waiting for God to move. When we read about the trials and tribulations the people went through in the wilderness, we know it wasn’t a picnic in a lovely and endearing state park. They probably wanted to get to the Promised Land sooner than later, but they moved at the Lord’s pace. 

This is where we can get into trouble. God tells us to stay where we are and wait, but we want to move. If we move when we’re supposed to stay, and we stay when we’re supposed to move, then we can become out of sync with God. Perhaps we’re in a great place and seeing the fulfillment of one of God’s promises in our lives, and we don’t want to leave. Maybe we see the light just ahead, and we’re so close, so we run to it. No matter the circumstance we need to move when God tells us to move. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

This is where I see these verses from Proverbs fitting into our lives each and every day. It’s when we lean on our understanding instead of leaning on the Lord that we can walk into danger.

The danger is that we will think God is not moving on our behalf. God is not responding to our needs. God is not fulfilling our needs. God is not with us. If we think about these things and all of the things like them, we could turn away from God. When the problem, as they always are, isn’t with God. It’s with us. 

Unlike the Israelites, we don’t have a cloud to show us when to move and when not to move (I wish!). Instead, we have to be intentional in our relationship with God. We need to seek His will every day. When we don’t seek God’s will every day, it shouldn’t be a surprise if we find ourselves off track. This is where prayer, praise, and worship come in. This is where reading the Bible comes in. When we do these things we don’t do them because they’re expected of us. We do them because we want to know the Father better. We want to spend time with Jesus. We know the Lord is always with us. However, how can we attune ourselves to feel His presence if we don’t spend time with Him? What did our Lord say?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

John 10:27 (KJV)

So when we hear His voice, and it’s telling us to slow down, and stop then we should stop. When He tells us to move, we should move, “for in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a NIV).

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.