On the day the Tabernacle was raised the Cloud covered it; and that evening the Cloud changed to the appearance of fire, and stayed that way throughout the night. It was always so—the daytime Cloud changing to the appearance of fire at night. When the Cloud lifted, the people of Israel moved on to wherever it stopped, and camped there. In this way they journeyed at the command of the Lord and stopped where he told them to, then remained there as long as the Cloud stayed. If it stayed a long time, then they stayed a long time. But if it stayed only a few days, then they remained only a few days; for so the Lord had instructed them. Sometimes the fire-cloud stayed only during the night and moved on the next morning. But day or night, when it moved, the people broke camp and followed. If the Cloud stayed above the Tabernacle two days, a month, or a year, that is how long the people of Israel stayed; but as soon as it moved, they moved. So it was that they camped or traveled at the commandment of the Lord; and whatever the Lord told Moses they should do, they did. Numbers 9:15-23 (LB)
WITH. The presence of God WITH his people is profound. In this page of Israel’s history, God’s presence every single day of their journey, the signs and movement, are all miracles. The actual cloud by day and the fire by night was a divine revelation, a sign of God WITH them. When the cloud and fire move, we see God at work, tenderly caring for and gently guiding his chosen ones. Not only does this passage repeat the same directions for emphasis and importance, it repeats them seven times, God’s holy number. Israel couldn’t miss seeing the cloud by day or the fire by night, knowing God’s guidance and feeling his presence with them. Neither should we.
God was WITH Israel. The people were instructed to make the portable tabernacle, a place for God to inhabit. It was his intention to be WITH them every step of their journey. He wanted them to know he was the center of their camp and their lives. His directions were good, he was dependable. He was faithful and gained their trust. Through every change of place, every transition they made, he was there. Their relationship to God’s presence was a stabilizing constant. Israel knew who they were, why they were there and where they were going.
God is WITH us, too. God has revealed himself through his Son Jesus and through his Word. When we are in relationship with God, when Jesus lives in the tabernacle of our heart, we know who we are, why we are here and where we are going. Today ask the Holy Spirit to assure you that you are his child. Picture his presence WITH you in every activity on your to do list. Trust the Holy Spirit lead you to bring his Kingdom benefit and glory. Pray to experience his being WITH you in ways you have never noticed before. If you want to go further, personalize this prayer from Psalm 73:23-28.
By Donna Burns