Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp.
As an abstract concept of what following God is about, the notion of a cloud that moves and stops is pretty nice. It’s clear, unmistakable. As long as you are checking the cloud from time to time, you will know when to pack up the belongings and move along.
The next few sentences from Numbers 9 illustrate how frustrating following can be. We read that sometimes the cloud stopped for a night and moved on in the morning, like an overnight stay at the Oasis Resort. The people stopped and moved in the morning, because the movement of the cloud indicated God’s command. Sometimes the cloud stayed in place for a week, a camping trip with the extended family. Sometimes the cloud stayed in place for a month. a summer in the Catskills. Sometimes the cloud stayed for a year. A chance to leave the kids in the same class in the same school for a year.
But this meant checking every morning to see if the cloud was staying or moving. If the sleep was rough because of the sound of the neighbor snoring thundering through the tent, would you look away from the tabernacle and the cloud, not wanting to know that you had to move? If you found the perfect campsite on the edge of the crowd, with a perfect sunset view across the wilderness, would you not want to look toward the tabernacle?
Every day waiting to see what God had in mind, after he served the morning manna. The daily bread after the prayer for leading.
I wonder what that would be like.