Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory if the Lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out– until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels. ~ Exodus 40:34-38
To me, this passage in Exodus 40 is such a beautiful picture of our walk with the Lord. For starters, the image of the presence of God being so strong that Moses couldn’t even enter is such an incredible metaphor for us. On the other side of the cross, we know that we are God’s tabernacle- His dwelling place. And I can’t help but think about what my life would look like if I was filled with so much of God’s presence that there isn’t room for me. It reminds me of Galatians 5 where Paul talks about how the Spirit and our flesh are at constant war. I know that war, I have felt its battles. And in all areas, it is utterly exhausting. Maybe that’s why this image is such a powerful picture for me. If I, as a tabernacle for the Lord, would be so filled with His presence that there isn’t room for me- for my sinful nature, there wouldn’t be those battles. I would be along for the ride more than stressing, worrying, and even fighting the next turn.
The second part of this passage is not any less meaningful, and is still the same picture of our walk with the Lord. Stay when God says stay, and move when God says move. However, there is a voice deep inside of me yelling “I WANT A CLOUD TOO!” I would like to think that it made it a lot easier. But either way, the truth is that this isn’t how I live my life most of the time. Especially the staying part. If this image of the Israelites followed how my life looks, it would be the Israelites leaving the cloud sitting where it was and wandering around just to have something to DO! Honestly more to try and force the cloud to move at a faster pace than it maybe would have if I stayed until it moved on its own. But God has a purpose in those times where He wants me to stay. It sometimes is rest, and sometimes is just creating that discipline in me to be able to wait for His timing. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what His reasons are- He’s staying still and waiting, and so that’s exactly where I should be and where I want to be.
It is hard to stay when all you want is to make it into the Promised Land, into what God has for you. But sometimes I’m so focused on where I want to be eventually, that I miss out on the blessing of seeing how God is working now. Which I feel like is a big lesson I can take from our time in Exodus. The Israelites would have loved it if God just saved them from Egypt and immediately gave them the Promised Land, but they would have missed so many things that God did for them. Which if it was purely about blessing, wouldn’t be a huge deal but the fact is that each of those things (manna, water from the rock etc), although they came in really difficult circumstances, were something that the Israelites could hold on to and remember that God took care of them. They were personally interacting with God and learning who He is and what His character is so that when things get hard in the future, they have something to remind them who He is and that He will take care of them.
Thankfully God is who He is, and so we also can take what God did for the Israelites as a reminder when things get hard. And Exodus hasn’t left us empty handed for those reminders.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Leviticus 1-4