Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
What a poetic way for Moses to end this journal called Exodus, repeating once again the visual of God’s abiding presence in our lives as a cloud by day and a fire by night. That’s the Spirit’s work in our hearts, isn’t it? We as pilgrims don’t lead the way through the present wilderness—He does. We don’t blaze our own trails from our own insight, but we rely on His foresight. We listen to His voice and seek His face. And if we wake up tomorrow morning and find that He isn’t moving us to take that new job or sign that contract or start that ministry or move cross-country or go back to school, then we’d better unpack our bags and rest in His will. And, likewise, if we wake up tomorrow morning and perceive that the cloud of God’s presence is advancing, urging us onward, then we need to make that phone call, and say ‘yes’ to that life-changing opportunity, and be off at Godspeed!
In so many ways, this story of Exodus has been a parable as much as history, because it’s given us vivid lessons of God’s power over the Pharaohs and the tempests and the anxieties of life. Reminders that when we’re starving, He can provide manna. That when we’re thirsty, He can produce water from a rock. That when we’re surrounded by enemies, He can carve a path through the sea. That when we’re lost and confused, He can fill the skies with wonders. That when we’re profligate, He can forgive us and give us a second chance. That when we yearn to see more of His glory, He can take us deeper into the mystery of His presence than we’ve ever been.
Oh that we would carry with us into the Leviticus chapters of our faith journey all we’ve learned from these Exodus pages—and never let them go!