Monday, February 15, 2010

Following The Leader

Numbers 9:15-23 On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.

Surprises are fun! I love unexpected snowy days, emails or FB messages from friends. I particularly love finding a surprise in God’s word, something I’d not noticed before, or something that jumps out because of circumstances I find myself in, or just God trying to get my attention and speak to my heart about something that I need work on. (There’s a lot of that when I’m willing to listen.)

I am a reader of the One Year Chronological Bible. Several men meet with me on Friday where we discuss what we’ve read over the past week. We all are learning to love God’s Word and to love one another. Every once in a while, I find myself almost laughing out loud after I read a section of the Word. It usually happens when I come to the reality of something God has been trying to tell me repeatedly, and because of my relatively thick skull, stubbornness, (you pick the malady), I have not scene it, until either the time is right, or the crusty soil of my heart is plowed down enough.

Over the past few days, I’ve been reading about the assembling of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25-40) that was to be the place of worship for the Israelites as they trekked through the wilderness to the Promised Land. It’s a fascinating read. It’s a section of instruction and incredibly great detail. It’s not a particularly easy read though. Sort of like reading a set of blue prints, or maps, both of which I enjoy doing. (Weird-I know!) God loves detail! I’m glad of that, to know that he is more than capable of handling the details of my life is such a comfort.

I couldn’t help but notice how the Lord was taking Israel on a 40-year journey of “Follow-the-Leader”. I know that is a very small, probably na├»ve view of what was going on. But as I read it through, I thought of “Simon says,” and other childrens games like that, games where you learn to do what the leader does. I know it’s simplistic, but hang in there with me.

In this scripture in Numbers 9:15-23, we have the game and how it works. Israel was to move when, and only when God said move, and to stay when God says stay. (vs.23) Why the need for the 40 year game? First of all, God determined the game length, in response to Israel’s lack of recognizing who is really in control. They had been set free from the oppressive Egyptians in a mighty display of God’s power. He had assured them they were His “special-possession” (His Bride). But while He was talking to Moses on the mountain about the vows they were to make to one another, Israel got restless. Frankly, their immaturity reminds me of a classroom of students that can’t control themselves when the teacher steps out of the room for a moment. Just how much do you think you can get by with is generally related to how much you respect (or fear) the one who’s in charge. They still didn’t fully get it. (Just like me sometimes)

So the game is simple, we only move when I (God) say move. I determine how far we’ll move, where we’ll stay, how your needs will be met as we move, etc. you get the picture. You’ll know what to do by this: cloud by day, pillar of fire by night. Got it? Got it!

Would you agree that it would be great if God would sometimes give us a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night? Wouldn’t that make life a lot easier? I would know when to move, how far to go, how to get the move funded, who to talk to, who to witness to, that would be SO cool! It would be fool proof…cloud by day, fire by night… That would be CAKE!!

Truth of the matter is, I have more info than they had in that day, and I still struggle to follow!

Why is that?

I believe it’s because His path doesn’t lead where I think I’m going! (Notice I said where I’mgoing.) He’s the leader, He calls the plays, He makes the rules, and He not only decides where we’re going, but how we’ll get there. The really beautiful thing is He LOVES me and knows the best way. His way is always more beneficial because He has my best interest at the very center of His heart!

Romans 8:28 says: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

So today I'll “follow-The-Leader”, and tomorrow I’ll “follow-The-Leader”, and the next day, and the next…

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