Going with God
Mighty God, You put the universe together. Your world is amazing. I thank You for Your fatherly embrace, Your daily grace.
Consider: "Open now the crystal fountain / whence the healing stream doth flow; / Let the fiery, cloudy pillar / lead me all my journey through" (William Williams, 1717-91). Yes, we need our great God, Jehovah, to guide us on our journey.
"May God be with you" is a common English phrase. We utter it regularly. Its equivalent in Spanish--"May you go with God"--perhaps better reflects the theology of the book of Numbers. The importance of waiting for God's guidance and going into the future with him is marked in the elevated prose of today's reading by the thrice-repeated refrain: At the Lord's command they would set up camp, and at his command they would set out (18,20,23).
The pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night guided the people as they left Egypt (Exod. 13:21-22). It continued to be God's guidance system for the next 40 years. Today God leads his children, not by a cloud, but by his Spirit--a very different mode of guidance! Yet the two processes are connected. The link is the tabernacle over which the cloud hovered throughout the wilderness trek (15), for the tabernacle anticipated the new temple Jesus would establish through his resurrection (John 2:19-22). Any local fellowship of believers, indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus, comprises a part of the new temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17). In the new dispensation, no less than the old, the locus of God's guidance is worship (Acts 13:1-3). Paul speaks of the children of God in the plural being led by the Spirit. Meeting together to praise the Lord, to hear his Word, to pray collectively, to counsel and encourage one another is the primary context of divine guidance. Of course, God also guides us individually (Rom. 8:14-17), but he seldom does so in isolation from our involvement in the local fellowship to which we belong. The Spirit leads us by bringing into consensus three elements. These are what we learn while prayerfully engaging Scripture, what advice we receive from Christian friends, and what our circumstances make possible.
When God wants you to do something, how does he let you know? How is this similar to the guidance the Israelites received here?
Sovereign Lord, I confess that my willfulness and impatience often get in the way of Your will for me. Grant me Your timing and Your direction.