Often, the account recorded in the TaNaCh (Torah, Prophets, Writings of the Hebrew Scriptures) provides valuable insights for us as believers today. This is true of Numbers 8-12. Here we gain insight for people who experience God directly through the Holy Spirit concerning a Holy Spirit-led life.
Number (9:15-23) speaks of how Israel followed the guidance of God manifested through the “Cloud by day” and the “Pillar of Fire by night”. Each morning, Israel’s attention was focused on the cloud. If the cloud moved, they moved. If the cloud remained in place, they remained also. The account emphasized the point that no matter how long the cloud remained; the people stayed in place. They did not set out on their own (even though human nature would want to move on).
Spirit Filled Life
Imagine yourself as an Israeli in that camp. What would be the first thing that you would do in the morning? I believe that you would open your tent flap and see what the cloud was doing. If it moved, then you would begin preparing to move out. If the cloud tarried, then you would relax because you would not be going anywhere on this day.
This is a fruitful picture for the individual believer and for the local church. The first thing we should do in the morning is determine what God is doing in our life today. Practically, this means an early morning prayer/worship time. Once we have ascertained what God is doing for the day then we can respond accordingly. The local church should do the same thing during its regular, weekly worship times.
One final thought from this awesome section of the Bible. Consider the “Cloud by day” and the “Pillar of Fire by night”. What was it? It must have been some form of unknown (out of this world, i.e., from heaven) energy field. It had the characteristics of absorbing photons of light energy in the presence of sunlight; thus, it appeared dark (my assumption) like a cloud in the daytime. At night, in the absence of light energy, it emitted photons of light energy thus appearing as a “Pillar of Fire”. We know that a magnetic field will cause a charged particle to change its direction. Perhaps, this unknown heavenly field absorbed photons of light energy in the daytime and re-emitted that same light energy at night. Can you imagine a nightly glowing column of light extending upwards from the tent of meeting into heaven, which, during the day, turned into a dark, black column of cloud?
There is a picture of the best and worst of Moses portrayed in this section. The Lord declared that with Moses He spoke “face to face”.
He said, “Hear now My words; If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord.” (Numbers 12:6-8a)
But we also have the account of Moses having a “pity party”
“So Moses said to the Lord, “Why hast Thou been so hard on Thy servant? And why have I not found favor in Thy sight, that Thou hast laid the burden of all this people on me? (Numbers 11:11)
I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if Thou art going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Thy sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” (Numbers 11:14-15)
So, the Lord called seventy elders of the people and placed the Spirit that was on Moses on the seventy elders.
Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And it came about that when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again. (Numbers 11:25)
Moses prayed that God put His Spirit upon all His people.
“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29)
Here we believe that Moses is functioning as a prophet and is speaking of the characteristic of the New Covenant which was still in the distant future.