The Cloud on the Tabernacle
15 Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. 16 So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. 17 Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. 18 At the [j]command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the [k]command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. 19 Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, [l]the sons of Israel would keep the Lord’s charge and not set out. 20 If [m]sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, according to the [n]command of the Lord they remained camped. Then according to the [o]command of the Lord they set out. 21 If [p]sometimes the cloud [q]remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out. 22 Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. 23 At the [r]command of the Lord they camped, and at the [s]command of the Lord they set out; they kept the Lord’s charge, according to the [t]command of the Lord through Moses.
That would be an incredible thing, to have a cloud and/or pillar of fire to guide you all the time. Yet, with this daily reminder that God was with them, and leading them, Israel would still face challenges over the next 40 years in the wilderness. They would still stray from what God had told them to do, and try to do things their own way.
It is a stark reminder to us, that even though we don’t have a cloud or pillar of fire with us every day, those who believe and trust in God have His presence with them every day. Yet we still fall prey to the whims of our selfishness and pride. I would dare say, the trouble is not that God has somehow become distant, but that we have become distant and forgotten He is always with us. When we remember, and focus all our appetites on Him, that is when we know His will and can serve Him best.