15On the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, even the Tent of the Testimony. At evening it was over the tabernacle, as it were the appearance of fire, until morning. 16So it was continually. The cloud covered it, and the appearance of fire by night. 17Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tent, then after that the children of Israel traveled; and in the place where the cloud remained, there the children of Israel encamped. 18At the commandment of Yahweh, the children of Israel traveled, and at the commandment of Yahweh they encamped. As long as the cloud remained on the tabernacle they remained encamped. 19When the cloud stayed on the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept Yahweh’s command, and didn’t travel. 20Sometimes the cloud was a few days on the tabernacle; then according to the commandment of Yahweh they remained encamped, and according to the commandment of Yahweh they traveled. 21Sometimes the cloud was from evening until morning; and when the cloud was taken up in the morning, they traveled; or by day and by night, when the cloud was taken up, they traveled. 22Whether it was two days, or a month, or a year that the cloud stayed on the tabernacle, remaining on it, the children of Israel remained encamped, and didn’t travel; but when it was taken up, they traveled. 23At the commandment of Yahweh they encamped, and at the commandment of Yahweh they traveled. They kept Yahweh’s command, at the commandment of Yahweh by Moses.
Do you actually read the small print or read the terms and conditions before tapping accept? Very often we simply scan through the pages of T&Cs and go straight to the main part of a document. On first glance, reading the book of Numbers can feel like this. The perception of this book can be one of list of names, tribes and instructions and we can quite easily scan through the book too quickly, through the lists and fine print of detailed accounts and miss the many opportunities to be reminded of God's faithfulness and protection. Numbers takes the us on a long and winding path through a desert of excruciating detail. The book records census results for all twelve tribes not once, but twice; it documents priestly instructions for handling the Ark of the Covenant and the tabernacle; and it even spells out the placement of the tribes when they camped. But through it all, we cannot doubt God’s unfailing direction over the nation.
We can take away from Numbers not only a detailed account of Israel’s early days but also a reminder that God delights when we are obedient. He taught His people how to walk with Him, not just with their feet through the wilderness but with their mouths in worship, hands in service, and lives as witnesses to the surrounding nations. He is our God, too, and He wants us to live a life that is pleasing to Him, worshipping Him through our words and works.
The ancient Israelites had little trouble knowing where God wanted them to do and where to go next. They just kept an eye on the cloud and followed it. Today God is still God, and he has promised to guide his people always. But he no longer uses a cloud to lead us. So how can we understand God's will for choosing a career, buying a house, finding a spouse, or making other decisions?
Even if we commit ourselves to Christ and study the Bible, certain decisions may not be clear. The Bible does not print out your spouse's name or your job or the address of the home you should buy. In making such decisions, pray for God's leading and be open to the promptings of his Spirit, then trust Him to guide and bless the decisions you make.