The Cloud That Guided Israel
- Its place.
- The “pillar of a cloud” and ”of fire” was not an ordinary cloud, but extraordinary and miraculous.
- Pillar is an upright column with its upper portion reaching to heaven and its base spread out as a cloud.
- It did not change its form from day to night, but it did change its appearance..
- This pillar appeared to Israel as soon as they left Egypt, even before the Red Sea (Exodus 13:21,22).
- Now after the construction of the tabernacle the pillar of cloud/fire settled on it.
- The cloudy/fiery pillar never left the tabernacle every day they were in the wilderness.
- Only after they crossed the Jordan and entered Canaan did the pillar disappear.
- Its significance.
- First and foremost it spoke of Jehovah’s presence WITH His people.
- It is a more certain and conspicuous sign.
- “Jehovah went before them” (Ex. 13:21; Num. 12:5; Deut. 1:33; Neh. 9:12).
- This cloud was the visible form of God’s glory and mercy.
- “The glory of Jehovah appeared in the cloud” (Ex. 16:10; also Num. 16:42).
- Its very presence was a merciful accommodation of God to their ignorance by giving Himself a visibility.
- Ex. 14:19 shows that the angel of God (O.T. Jesus) is equated to the pillar.
- The practical activities of the pillar.
- First, God spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night” (Psalm 105:39).
- Second, with the pillar God led Israel from place to place when He wanted to do so (Ex. 40:36-38; Deut. 1:33; Ps. 78:14).
- It was at His “commandment” (Numbers 9:18,23), literally “mouth” as an organ of speech.
- The proper response is that they keep the “charge” (obligation, service, watch).
- Third, the pillar was a source of terror to their enemies.
- Fire is a figure of God’s wrath (cf. Ex. 14:24,25).
- The “glory” of the pillar “shall be a defense” (Isaiah 4:5).