Friday, 29 January 2021
"ADONAI went ahead of them in a column of cloud during the daytime to lead them on their way, and at night in a column of fire to give them light; thus they could travel both by day and by night. Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire at night went away from in front of the people." (Exodus 13:21-22, CJB)
Our people have just come out of Egypt and G-d gives them a physical sign of His presence: a column of cloud that went with them everywhere. I particularly love the second verse, where it states that the cloud never "went away" from being in front of the people - it was there the entire time, no matter what happened. And yet when the people entered the Land of Israel forty years later, the cloud stopped. Was this because G-d left them?
No, it was because that season for needing that physical reminder had gone. When they first left Egypt, they were an enslaved people who had just been given their freedom; when they entered the land later the "Exodus generation" had died, giving way to a new generation who had grown up in freedom. That season of wandering was over and they had a distinct way ahead of them. G-d never left them, but a change of circumstances, a new maturity in the people, meant He manifested Himself in different ways.
I think we should be reassured today: G-d never leaves us. We may not have a physical sign like the people had; we may not even always be aware of His presence and we certainly have all felt the frustration of seemingly unheard prayers! Although as we grow in our faith G-d seems to expect us to work harder at knowing His will and drawing closer to Him, He remains faithful and stays with us.
Yeshua promised that when He left the disciples, He would send the Ruach HaKodesh. Although we don't have His physical presence, we have His continual presence that we cannot see. This Shabbat let us take time to consider whether we spend enough time with G-d - His presence is with us, so what are we waiting for?
"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you" (John 14:16-17, NASB)