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When the cloud remained . . . the Israelites . . . did not set out. (Numbers 9: 19)


This was the ultimate test of obedience. It was relatively easy to fold up their tents when the fleecy cloud slowly gathered over the tabernacle and began to majestically float ahead of the multitude of the Israelites. Change normally seems pleasant, and the people were excited and interested in the route, the scenery, and the habitat of the next stopping place.

Yet having to wait was another story altogether. “When the cloud remained,” however uninviting and sweltering the location, however trying to flesh and blood, however boring and wearisome to those who were impatient, however perilously close their exposure to danger— there was no option but to remain encamped.

The psalmist said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Ps. 40: 1). And what God did for the Old Testament saints, He will do for believers down through the ages, yet He will often keep us waiting. Must we wait when we are face to face with a threatening enemy, surrounded by danger and fear, or below an unstable rock? Would this not be the time to fold our tents and leave? Have we not already suffered to the point of total collapse? Can we not exchange the sweltering heat for “green pastures . . . [and] quiet waters” (Ps. 23: 2)?

When God sends no answer and “the cloud remain[s],” we must wait. Yet we can do so with the full assurance of God’s provision of manna, water from the rock, shelter, and protection from our enemies. He never keeps us at our post without assuring us of His presence or sending us daily supplies.

Young person, wait— do not be in such a hurry to make a change! Minister, stay at your post! You must wait where you are until the cloud clearly begins to move. Wait for the Lord to give you His good pleasure! He will not be late!
~from Daily Devotional Commentary

An hour of waiting!
Yet there seems such need
To reach that spot sublime!
I long to reach them— but I long far more
To trust HIS time!
“Sit still, My children”—
Yet the heathen die,
They perish while I stay!
I long to reach them— but I long far more
To trust HIS way!
It’s good to get,
It’s good indeed to give!
Yet it is better still—
O’er breadth, through length, down depth, up height,
To trust HIS will!
~F. M. N.

Reference

Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim (2008-09-09). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 412). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.