Missions is like the cloud
Many people would admit that reading the books of Leviticus and Numbers is not exactly the highlight of their devotional year. There are obviously some chapters that are very repetitive and some would say they feel monotonous. I am thankful to the Lord for making many passages more understandable and aplicable to me this year.
When you read “the cloud” you may automatically think of cloud computing or data, but look at what Numbers 9:17 has to say: 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. Although we are not wandering in the Sinai desert, a missionary certainly must feel certain similarities.
- Whenever the Lord leads, we follow, and where he shows us to settle down, we settle.
- The Lord leads remembering our needs: a cloud for shade by day and a fire for light by night.
- We joyfully follow, because we earnestly want to be in fellowship with Him in His presence.
Numbers 9:22 is such a blessing to read as a wandering pilgrim. 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.
4. We never know how long He will have us in one place. I have noticed that my wife, like most women, likes stability. Although we have great stability in God, we don’t always know how He will lead.
5. His ways are not necessarily the fastest, but they are far better than ours. The Israelites could have hurried along, but God’s timing is perfect. 40 years in the desert may seem ridiculous to us, but God’s thoughts are much higher than ours (Is. 55:9).
6. Wherever He leads us, He keeps us. He continues to provide for us, despite the barren environment.
7. The Lord’s direction did not allow for many long term plans, but His plan is still best. There is much to be said for having a daily routine, using your time wisely, and planning for the future. But in the wilderness, God never told the people when they would be leaving, or how long they would be staying. He simply began moving.
8. In order to follow the Lord, His people must be attentive. I can picture the people coming out of their tents early in the morning with an eye towards the cloud-covered tabernacle and keeping close watch on it so that they could faithfully and quickly follow. May we do the same.