Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire (Numbers 9:15).
While I read Numbers 9 recently, the pillar of cloud captured my attention. I noticed that the text repeated the same information about the cloud seven more times through verse 22. Every verse!
From the seven-day creation account in Genesis 1 and 2, the number seven has come to symbolize completeness, or perfection, in the Bible. Clearly, this divine repetition about the cloud’s movement was important to the Lord. So what should I be learning from this?
Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents (v. 17).
This cloud by day and fire by night was the very presence of God in the midst of Israel. Since God did not speak to the people directly at that time, the cloud’s movement was “the command of the Lord.” They were to watch the cloud continually for instruction or direction. They were to be ready to follow its movement, day or night. Obedience is the key point here. And the fact that it’s reiterated seven times emphasizes continual obedience, complete obedience. Seven days a week.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:14).
The Israelites following the cloud in the wilderness is a foreshadowing of us following the Holy Spirit. In the life of the New Testament believer, the Holy Spirit is that cloud of God’s presence, and His direction is “the command of the Lord.” Just as the Israelites were to be continually aware of the cloud’s movement, so we are to be continually aware of the Spirit’s movement — ready to follow Him daily. God wants our complete obedience.
The text in Numbers 9 also says that the Israelites would “pitch their tents,” or camp, when the cloud lingered. Likewise, unless the Holy Spirit is leading us, we are not to act; we are to stay put!
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit . . . (1 Peter 1:22).
Finally, I notice that the Israelites never had to wonder what God’s command was; they simply looked to the cloud over the tabernacle. Even in the dark, they could see the cloud because it looked like fire. In the same way, we never have to wonder what God’s command is. We need only look to the cloud of His presence in our lives — the Holy Spirit — and follow obediently.
I pray that I am faithful to follow the Holy Spirit’s every leading — His every command every day!