He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud
I have never really stopped to wonder why God chose a cloud in the daytime and a fire at night as His means to lead Israel. Why not a fire all the time? Fires are bright enough that they can be seen even in the daytime.
And then I realize, yes…fires are really bright. Think what it must be like in the blackest night to see a tall pillar of flame reaching up into the sky. Impressive! And also unmistakable. Even if you weren’t looking directly at it, you would know it was there by the glow. In the darkness, the flame would be impossible to miss.
How different the daytime guide was. A pillar of cloud. While it was surely an unusual formation, it was…just a cloud. Clouds happen all the time, and that wouldn’t be nearly as impressive. Depending on how many other clouds were in they sky that day, it might not particularly stand out. In fact, unless you were looking for it, you might even miss it.
A couple days ago, it occurred to me that it’s a little bit the same way today. Throughout history, in times and places of persecution and oppression, God’s people give testimony of manifestations of God that were impossible to miss. From the appearance of Christ in a vision to the miraculous opening of prisons, there are countless ways that God has guided people to freedom. In times of extreme darkness, His hand is unmistakable.
And in easy times, these daylight times of life, His direction may be harder to see. God still leads us, but we can end up on the wrong path by not paying attention to which cloud is the sign. Sometimes we feel as if we are pulled in many directions, and lose track of which voice is God’s. The cloud is there, but we need to be alert, to watch for it.
Why would He make it that way? Why not make His will always obvious and easy? In Jeremiah 29: 12-13, He says, “When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly.” He wants us to seek Him. To seek wholeheartedly—putting my entire being into the effort. My Abba wants all of me, every molecule of me, completely focused on Him.
So trust in Him in the daylight. Watch carefully as He goes before you.
And isn’t it a comfort to know that the blacker the world grows, the more brightly our Deliverer will shine?