Wandering in the Wilderness?
by Moshe Morrison, Teaching Elder, Tents of Mercy
By Moshe Morrison
God begins to deal with us long before we experience our "new birth". The psalmist says that He knew us even before we were formed in our mother's womb. His plan for us is worked out through the circumstances of our lives to bring us to the place where we can receive His inexpressible gift and we are ushered into an eternal relationship with Him through Messiah Yeshua.
"Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle..." (Numbers 9:1)
The completion and setting up of the Tabernacle in the wilderness and its subsequent filling by the presence of God is a prophetic picture of this. The Lord had been shaping Israel from the time of the call of Abram. But now they were to begin an aspect of their journey that was unique. Now there was a place for the Holy One to dwell in the midst of His people, and each Israelite could feel closer communication with Him. His presence was there as their own personal tour guide.
Often the word "wandering" is used to describe our ancestors' forty year journey through the wilderness. Unfortunately the word carries the connotation of aimlessness, as if they were lost with no direction home. But this is not the case, because the Scriptures clearly state that the people of Israel only moved when and where the Lord directed them.
God was present in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night hovering above the sanctuary. When the cloud lifted, the Israelites would break camp, pack up the Tabernacle and follow the cloud. When it stopped, they would stop and set up camp. Whether it was overnight, a few days, months or years - unless the cloud moved, they stayed where they were.
Of course the people were not always happy with this journey through the wilderness. However, the All Knowing God knew the end from the beginning and every stop had a purpose. There was a reason for every place and for the duration of every stay. Sadly, the process was not a popular one and only exacerbated their inclination to complain. It is important that we understand what God wants us to receive from this ancient episode.
"For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud ... Now these things happened to them as an example and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." (1 Corinthians 10:1-11)
Even when we are in seasons of great challenges and we don't know where we are going or how long we must remain in this place, we must remember that He who lives in us is ever our guide. He knows, and is directing us in the journey. So we need not complain, but follow while trusting and resting in Him.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Messiah Yeshua." (Philippians 1:6)
*This year, 2013, the Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated on September 19-26.
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