So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out.Numbers 9:16–19
Wow, what a difficult lifestyle to get used to. I have been camping many times, and it takes a lot of work to set up and break camp. I can’t imagine what a logistical headache it must have been to set up and break camp for over 2 million people in a desert! I think that it would have been really challenging for people to feel settled. Obviously, they knew that God was with them, so they were safe and protected, but they never knew how long they would remain in a place. And setting up and tearing down that tabernacle was a lot of work! I’m sure they got pretty skilled at making the process quick.
But obviously, there was a reason God did this—he wanted Israel to remember two things: first, that the wilderness was not their final destination—they were on their way to the Promised Land. And second, they were not in charge of their journey; he was. They were following him and his lead.
As much as we feel like we have control today, the same things still apply to us. When God allows things to be upended in our lives, we should remember that there’s a reason for that: this world is not our home. We should never grow so comfortable here that we forget where we are going. And second, as much as we think that we are in charge of our lives, we should remember that He is sovereign and in control and we are at his mercy! The pandemic has—or at least should have—underscored this reality for all of us. We should thank God for his direction and for the destination which he has in store for us.
The “Isolation Introspection” series started as an opportunity for me to encoruage members of our Bible Study with daily reflections from the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan during the 2020 “Stay at Home” mandate in Los Angeles. I’ve moved them here so that they can be shared easily, and perhaps benefit others. I hope you enjoy!