Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Numbers 9:17-23

Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’s order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the LORD’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the LORD’s command they encamped, and at the LORD’s command they set out. They obeyed the LORD’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

Here is an illustration of living by faith. God led the Israelites. They camped or moved according to the Lord’s direction. Notice that the text has “whenevers” and “wherevers.” The Israelites did not have control over their time or their place. God controlled all that. There is no mention of convenience for the Israelites. Sometimes they stayed in one place only one night. It was no small thing to set up the tabernacle and their tents. They never knew if they were going to be somewhere overnight or for a year! They had to set up the tabernacle every single time they stopped. Some places may have appeared very comfortable and perhaps the people would have liked to stay there for awhile but the cloud lifted first thing in the morning. Some places may have been very unpleasant. Men would rise early in the morning hoping to see the cloud lift but it didn’t. Sometimes the people may have grown very bored with their location but the cloud didn’t move. Some of the women must have really struggled with the fact that they didn’t have a place of their own to create a home. Sometimes the cloud lifted in the middle of the night and the people had to awaken the children, take down their tents, pack up their things, and move out. That would be inconvenient!

Am I willing to follow God’s direction for my life in this way? What about when things become very inconvenient? What if God wants me to be in a place I don’t really like? What if he moves me from a place I really like? What if I have to do a job I really don’t want to do? What if I lose the job I really love? What if my kids move far away from me? What if my health fails? What if my job doesn’t provide a secure retirement? What if the people I work with are extremely difficult? Am I willing to follow the Lord’s clear direction for my life no matter what?

Second question: Do I even spend enough time with the Lord to know when the cloud is moving or settling? How can I say I’m following the Lord if I don’t know where he’s leading me? How can I know if he’s leading me if I don’t spend time listening to his voice?

Do we even know what it means to really live by faith anymore?


At 12:40 PM, Blogger Jeff Iversen said...

After a very heavy rain, a man was stranded on top of his house as the waters were rising. Having a strong faith in God, the man prayed that God would rescue him.

Finally a boat came by and offered him a ride. He refused, saying that he was waiting for God to rescue him.

As the waters were rising, a second boat came by but he refused to be rescued again. He was waiting for the mighty hand of God to miraculously save him from disaster.

By now the waters were rushing and were almost at the top of the roof. A helicopter appeared overhead and lowered a line to him but he still refused. His faith remained strong that God himself would rescue him and so he waived them off.

Needless to say, he died in the flood and when he saw God in heaven, he asked him why he did not save him? "Save you?", said God. "I sent you two boats and a helicopter! What else did you want?"

Pride and arrogance sometimes keep us from hearing that still small voice. We want God to hand us our lives on our terms instead of His. We want the benefits of being a "christian" but we don't want to avail ourselves of the power he offers us to live christianly. When Jesus bids a man to come and follow him, he bids him to come and die in order to really live. He also gives us the power to live the life.

Sad to say that 3-4 friends from my days at Wheaton College have gone off and listened to the voice of the "god of this world." One of them was a Bible major and one is now an atheist. Now they are listening to other voices from the New Age movement. Movies like, "The Secret" and "What the Bleep Do We Know" are offering people the chance to BE God for themselves and to "create their day." How enticing to have your ego stroked in this deceiving way. It is like eating the forbidden fruit all over again. They need to know that there is a razor blade in the middle of this fruit.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Excellent insights, Jeff. Thank you for sharing them with us. I agree that we have descended to a low point where we want God on our terms and we grumble when he doesn't do things the way we want him to do!


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