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Numbers 9:15-23

Friday, 23 April 2021

“At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped.” -Numbers 9:18

Moses had prepared the Israelites to move from Sinai to the Promised Land—the tribes were numbered and organized, the priesthood was established, the tabernacle was consecrated, Passover was celebrated. At the centre of the narrative we see a God who is fully involved with the welfare of His people. God's people were between Egypt— a place of slavery and bondage, and the Land of promise- a land where they would enjoy His goodness. Out in the wilderness when they were at risk, vulnerable and without visible support systems we see the constant guidance of God. It is repeatedly said: “When the cloud remained over the tabernacle, the children of Israel camped. When the cloud, God's glory and guidance lifted his children set out. They journeyed.” God was with them on the journey; never abandoned them; the cloud and fire were the signs of His holy presence. The Creator God didn’t create the universe and then stand back to observe – He is very much involved in the lives of His people! He is the Good Shepherd who leads His people to green pasture.

We see four realities:

  1. The timing is His: The children of Israel did not have an itinerary of God's expected movements. Either the cloud lifted, or it didn’t—they had to keep watch! Imagine the Israelites’ conversation each morning: “Will Jehovah move today”?

  2. The direction is His: The children of Israel knew they were going to the Promised Land, but did not know which path, what obstacles or how they were going to get there. The Lord would show them!

  3. The strategy is His: The children of Israel did not have a vision statement. GOD’s leadership was perfectly visionary –they just needed to follow.

  4. The destination is His: For the children of Israel, the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey was God’s choice—their destination. Whatever their suffering or circumstances, they had this to look forward to.

Seeing these four things belonging to God, there was only one thing required of Israel: follow, which meant: patience in His timing, trust in His character, and obedience to His commands. How often we take things into our own hands and fail to wait patiently for His provision! We tend to depend on our own emotions and desires, and then assume God will bless our decisions! How we even sometimes complain about His perfect direction!

The text does not tell us how the Israelites felt- they may have been afraid. But how they felt did not shape God's direction. He often leads and directs not the way we think which leads to our anxiety. If we just move with God as they did, there is no cause for fear. See Christ’s example - He has come and proved His perfect obedience to His Father’s direction by trusting His Father’s timing, direction and destination. The Holy Spirit is “tabernacled” in us and among us as followers of Christ. Therefore we have not been left as orphans.

A Christian who has been rescued from the slavery of sin, being prepared for heaven—the supernatural land of promise, is on a journey toward a good land under God's guidance. In a certain way, we are in the wilderness at risk and vulnerable, without visible support systems. God is the same now as He was then: His specific will, guidance and direction for the individual is revealed to us in a variety of ways through His Word, Prayer, Circumstances with constraints and Opportunities or God’s supernatural interventions! Would we be guided by the Lord constantly?

To pray: “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day”. (Psalms 25:4-5 NASB)

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