On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. Numbers 9:15
When the Hebrews were wandering in the desert, they carried the arc of the covenant with them in the tabernacle. In it were the commandments of God- basically His Word to them. Why was it covered by a cloud during the day and a fire by night? What did that mean and what can it mean for us over three thousand years later?
To me, clouds conceal and obscure, like fog. Fire is destructive. We protect our houses and our kids from it. But to a wandering group of people in a desert environment, clouds and fire were positives, not negatives. Clouds shielded the brilliance and heat of the sun blaring down. They meant a chance of much desired rain was on the way. Clouds were a promise that relief from drought or a blistering hot day was in sight. They were protection and hope.
Fire was protection as well. It kept wild beasts at bey in the dark of night. It provided light, making an ambush by thieves or predators more difficult. In the desert when temperatures can plummet, it provided much needed heat. It was a way to cook your food and to purge any germs and bacteria growing on it. Fire was a welcomed sight to any weary traveler. People gathered around it.
The Word of God, His promise to His children, is like fire in this sense. It can cleanses and purge us. It can ward off ambushes from evils that may be lurking in the dark places of our souls we cannot see,or physical dangers we are unaware are ready to ambush us. It can provide us warmth when the world around us seems so harsh and cold. It provides fellowship, and is always welcoming. Jesus is that Word made flesh.
God’s promise to us through Christ is also like a cloud. It covers us and protect us from the harsh, blaring rays of the world’s view. Christ is our “Son screen” against being burned by doubt, anger, jealousy and discouragement. It is the promise that when we feel parched, He will provide Living Water to rain down on us and quench our thirst for love, truth and hope. Then the seeds of faith inside of us will become nourished and grow into plants that can bear fruit.
By day and night, we can rest assured that we have God’s loving protection near us, just as the wandering Hebrews did. He protects, provides and nourishes our faith, cleanses our impurities and quenches our thirst for a better way to live, both now on earth and in the age to come.