The Cloud and The Fire
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, …... He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.
Reading about how God provided the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night for the children of Israel has always excited me. However, in my excitement I suppose I never thought of the cloud and the fire being more than just a spiritual compass and a protective shield for a scared and unsure people.
The fact is, God has always appeared in a cloud or in fire. Our text is a picture of Him cuddling the children of Israel in His arms as any loving Father.
I have come to the conclusion after eighty-five years of living that everything that God does, is from the platform of love … and not from being a harsh disciplinarian. As a matter of fact, He is just as reachable as a Father, as Jesus is reachable as our Lord.
Even though the children of Israel were sinful and immature in the things of God, He saw them as being innocent and in need of protection. That is the reason for the pillar of cloud by day and he pillar of fire by night. Protecting the innocent is a natural thing for any father to do. The children of Israel may have had a few sleepless nights in the process but nevertheless, they were protected.
Once while ministering in Africa I was invited to an orphanage that only had babies and younger kids. Each one of these children came from very different and sad situations. Some had even been abandoned in the woods. Others had been dropped off and left at the orphanage door.
One of the reasons we were invited to the orphanage was to hold the babies and not only play with them but to pray for them. As we all stood there looking over all the little babies sitting on the floor and choosing the one we wanted … I was particularly drawn to a little fat baby boy. I am not sure if I picked him are, he picked me. Never-the-less, I loved this little baby and hugged and kissed him while he was carefully examining and stretching my nose, my eyes, and my mouth.
They had found this little fellow sitting and crying in a big open field where he had been abandoned. The orphanage people were surprised that he had not become prey to one of the wild animals.
As I listened to this baby’s story, I hugged him tighter and kissed him more … in spite of the fact that he had AIDS.
When you don’t know what else to say or what to do … the silence of a hug will always help. Perhaps this is also what the children of Israel needed … a silent big hug by the cloud and fire of their Father.
You are never far away. In our times of trouble, You are there. In our slave mentality You are there. In our need You are there. In our sleepless nights You are there. In our abandonment in the fields of life You are there. You are always there to hold and cuddle us, just as You were for the children of Israel.