EXODUS 40:36-38: “Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: How important is the presence of God? To Moses and the children of Israel it was everything. When the Lord told Moses that He would not go with the children of Israel, Moses replied – “If You will not go with us, then neither will I go!” Moses knew that it was the presence of the Lord and only the presence of the Lord that made them distinct from all the other nations. If the Lord was not with them then they would truly fail!
When Jesus spoke to the disciples after His resurrection, and right before His ascension, He told them to stay in Jerusalem until they received the “Promise of the Father” – the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Lord would no longer lead His people by a physical cloud or a pillar of fire. He would now lead His people by the Holy Spirit living and abiding in each believer’s heart and life!
The principle however was the same. Jesus was in essence saying – Don’t get started until you receive the Holy Spirit. He alone will lead and guide you! The Book of Acts in many ways is a companion book to the Book of Exodus. In both we see the Lord’s chosen people learning how to follow the leading of the presence of God. As they followed God’s presence they witnessed miraculous things. When they ignored God’s presence they encountered failure and difficulty.
If this was true for the children of Israel and for the Apostles – how much more is it true of us? The Scripture is replete with reminders that it is “…Not by power, nor by might, but by My Spirit thus saith the Lord!” Yet, we too forget this. It is easy to “do church” in our own strength and wisdom. We get so use to going through the motions that we move ahead of the manifest presence of the Lord. We can perpetuate a “service”, but we can never experience the true power of God if we do this. We must learn to hear the still small voice of the Spirit and follow His leading and direction if we want to see the power of God!
Lord, forgive me for the times when I have pulled up camp and started on my journey when the cloud of Your presence had not moved. Forgive me for presumptuous sin when I move ahead of Your leading and timing. Help me to “wait” upon You like the children of Israel abided in the camp until they saw the cloud lift from the Tabernacle. Help me to grow in my sensitivity to the prompting of Your Holy Spirit and as I do – work mightily in and through my life. In Jesus Name!