And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. Exodus 13:20-21
Some programs illustrate life in the desert where heat from the sun poses parching and dehydrating danger to all life. In my imagination, I see the great cloud of His presence, several miles long and miles high creating shadow for the entire lot of Israelites. They doubted him several times while escaping from Egypt, including when they were thirsty, in front of the Red Sea, yet His visible presence, the cloud shone above them, protecting them from the sun. As we near the end of the book of Exodus, we see the glory [Shekinah] descending on the Tabernacle.
In all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey on until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel. Exodus 40:38-40.
There must have been days and times when the travelers thought their journey was taking too long (how long, how long?). Believers have been saying ‘Maranatha’ since the first century A.D. – but when will He return? There must have been distraction in the camp: weapon salesmen, manna burgers, luxury tent sales, waterhole gossip – the resemblance to life today is ironic, so much talk in so many directions that are not forward. Much like that bait ball of fish or the herd of Wildebeest, everyone needs to get in their place for safety. The fish follow the pattern and move in synchrony with the currents in spite of incursions by predators. In fact, when sharks attack, the fish get even tighter!
Sidebar: Christs’ prediction of the end times says “People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken” [Lk 21:26 NLT]. Don’t get distracted and/or fall prey to winds of doctrine.
What the fish don’t do is get frustrated and swim their own separate direction! The cloud lifting is the signal to join in lockstep with the move of God. As the cloud was lifting, there must have been the sound of a horn in the camp signaling people to start folding the tents, gather the livestock, find the children, all preparations must come together. When the cloud lifts . . .