Following, fire, and clouds: part one.

On some Monday mornings, it’s challenging to know what following Jesus looks like. Particularly if we haven’t had enough coffee, or the weekend was particularly rough, or we woke up and realized that it’s Fall.

I’m not sure that I am going to help that at all.

I was thinking about models of following God that we see in the Bible. We’re familiar with some of the stories of the twelve disciples, or at least we know where to look for them. But Sunday morning I remembered a different story: the cloud and the pillar of fire.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they were guided by God. During the day, he used a pillar of cloud. At night, it was a pillar of fire. We’re heard of those things. We sometimes wish we had leading that was that clear. “If there were a 30,000 foot tall flame, we’d never miss God’s directions,” we think. There’s no way to know how big the pillar was, of course. I guessing it wasn’t 30,000 feet. That would be hard to ignore. And we know that sometimes the Israelites ignored God. They managed to argue with Moses. They managed to argue with God. They managed to wonder as they wandered.

We do get a clue how this forgetting happened, however, from Numbers 9. We read,

Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning.

The cloud and the fire were visible clearly when you were looking toward the tabernacle. The tabernacle was a tent that God designed. Tabernacle plus cloud or fire meant God was around. But you had to look toward the tabernacle to remember God was around.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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