In the midst of all of the lists, details and symbolism of the book of Numbers, I see a simple, yet vitally important question being asked by God: Are you willing to trust and submit to my leadership?
Over their generations in Egypt, the Israelites had come to question God and distrust those in authority over them. “So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery” (Ex. 6:9). The purpose of the time in the desert was to reorient the people’s hearts to begin to trust in and depend upon God.
Nothing has changed. We, too, must learn to trust in and depend upon God. Our life journeys often lead us to mistrust leaders, become preoccupied with our pain and lose sight of God. God wants us to know that we can trust Him.
Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses (Numbers 9:22-23).
This passage raises some questions for me:
- Am I aware of the God’s continual presence and guidance (cloud and pillar of fire) in my life?
- Am I willing to follow it whenever, wherever and however it directs me?
- Do I respect the spiritual authority of those whom God has placed in leadership over me?
As I reflect on these questions, the words of a hymn come to mind:
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Take some time to do some reflection of your own.