Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Numbers 7, 8, 9 Cloud by Day and Fire by Night

The Golden Altar, in a full size replica of th...Image via Wikipedia

By Numbers 9, the Israelites had already spent two years getting to know God.  In addition to learning, that they, of all the nations on the earth, were chosen by God to receive his blessings, they began to understand the extent of their sin.  God showed them that He was absolutely holy and as such unapproachable.  However, because He loved Israel and made an everlasting covenant with the sons of Jacob, God instituted the process of atonement.

Even after numerous sin offerings, fellowship offerings, burnt offerings, God continued to emphasize that He was still a Holy God who the people had to behold reverently.  The sacrificial offerings did not make them buddies.  In Numbers 9: 15 -23, after the Tabernacle was set up, a cloud covered it by day and and something with the appearance of fire covered it by night.  Here the Hebrew word for cloud, עָנָן (`anan), refers to a real nimbus or thunder cloud.  At night, something that appeared to be fire, but obviously not fire because nothing burned up, settled over the tabernacle.  God’s Presence rested on the tabernacle in the form of recognizable phenomenon, but different in that the cloud and fire did not behave as clouds of fire ordinarily do. 

I wonder if God was teaching Israel not to trust exclusively in their senses when beholding God, but rather to trust in God’s verbal revelation of Himself.  

Also, the camp of the Israelites did not move until the cloud lifted from the Tent.  According to the Scriptures, the cloud rested on the Tent for variable periods of time ranging from a few days to a year.  And, no matter when it lifted, during the day or night, Israel had to break camp and set out.

It appears to me that God was teaching Israel to trust in His timing, no matter how inconvenient or difficult it was to move on. 
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