One-a-Day...for the Heart: Cloudy with a Chance of...???
There are few things as troubling as being in a fog about what to do in uncertain situations. At times, a mountain covered with dense clouds and fog is more of a driving challenge than one covered in snow during a winter blizzard. Often a cloudy sky is indicative of a storm brewing, whether it’s rain or snow. An ominous cloud of smoke billowing from a fire below signals alarm until the source is determined. Clouds attract our attention when they are fluffy white summer clouds, gray storm clouds, or thick, black clouds of fire.
Perhaps since clouds do attract our attention, God chose to make His presence known in one. He did it several times in Old Testament recordings, and each time the glory of God and His presence were hidden in the cloud. Along with the Lord’s presence, His protection and guidance were apparent to the Israelites as the cloud of glory seemed almost a compass for their travels. The Israelites keyed off the position of God’s cloud as they sought direction through a desert in hopes of making it to Canaan.
The cloud of God’s glory was a nimbus or thunder cloud, so the setting was not always one of blue skies and fluffy cotton candy clouds as Moses sojourned with God’s people through the desert. Before them, the arduous task was a series of starts and stops, or as the Word says, set-outs and camping. Each time the pillar of cloud moved, the people were to set out and keep moving until the cloud stopped and remained in a particular location. A pillar of fire lit up the sky over the tabernacle at night, but as soon as daylight broke, the pillar of cloud appeared and directed the people to set out or remain camping. They were to camp for a day, a week, sometimes even a year, until the cloud of glory moved again. Notice all the references to set out and camp listed in the account of God’s cloud of glory in Numbers 9:15-23:
On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening, it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that, the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord, the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord, they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord, they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord, they set out. And sometimes, the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night when the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time that the cloud continued over the tabernacle abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted, they set out. At the command of the Lord, they camped, and at the command of the Lord, they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.
The pillar of cloud, inhabited by the Lord Himself, made all the directional and military decisions for the Israelites. It was easily recognizable because of its form and position. There was no need to send spies ahead to search for enemies, nor was there any reason to recruit courageous pioneers to clear the way. Officers did not need to mark out camp, for the pillar of cloud did all this for them (Matthew Henry’s Commentary).
How safe God’s people are when we fully trust Him with our lives, protection, provision, and destinies! Depending on when and where the cloud of glory moved, the people’s greatest responsibility was to be ever vigilant and ready to set out at a moment’s notice. God moved ahead of them in the cloud and kept them out of harm’s way if they obeyed His direction and plan.
Suppose you had just established your family’s campsite, spending long hours preparing each child’s sleeping area, the fire pit, latrines, cooking area, etc. Suddenly the alarm is sounded—maybe a trumpet or horn of some sort—the cloud is moving, and by that, the command of the Lord is saying, pack things up and set out! Or, imagine camping in the same site for six long months. Desert life was getting unbearable. The kids were bored and restless, there was no variety in the meals anymore, animals were getting agitated, and the pillar of cloud was still not moving. Furthermore, living in such tight quarters—camping, no less—was bringing out the worst in your neighbors. No one was feelin’ the love any more. Two more months dragged on…four, eight, an entire year spent in the desert, and still, the pillar of cloud hung over the camp with no sign of lifting.
Would you have taken things into your own hands and packed up the family to set out on your own? Think about the last traffic jam you were in and how many escape routes you tried to invent off the highway. At the command of the Lord, they camped, and at the command of the Lord, they set out.
It’s still all about keeping in step with God’s timing. When the Israelites obediently waited for the Lord to lead them by moving the cloud, there was progress in their journey, and peace followed. If things are not moving as quickly as you’d like them to, WAIT on the Lord. Pray, study His Word, and do your best with your campsite until the Lord moves you on and nudges you to set out.
If you are at a standstill in the place where God has you, make the best of your campsite. Draw close to the Lord and get to know His voice so that when He’s ready to move you on to a higher place with Him, you will sense the cloud of glory moving
and set out! As you obey God’s leading, the cloud of glory could be cloudy with a chance of supernatural power or healing or blessing! It’s going to be great!
© 2022, Chris Werre