Living Torah Commentary
June 22, 2019
Beha'alot'cha “When you set up”
Which Way Now?
Have you ever tried to figure out what the Father was doing in your life? Can you look back through the time you have been following Him and see His direction so clearly today, but remember how confusing it seemed then? I know the answer to these questions by most of us is a resounding yes.
We read this week about a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night that led our ancestors for forty years through their wilderness experience. Every morning they would wake to the sight of the cloud and every night the last thing they would see while lying in their tents would be the soft glow of the fire.
If you have ever been camping you know the comfort a fire can give. It is more than simply the outward warmth. There is something about a fire that reaches down deep into your spirit. A fire in the midst of a camp brings a certain peace and even brings people together. I remember men's retreats and campouts in the past in which it seemed for hours we would all sit around the fire, each one in our own thoughts, but somehow linked together in awe of the dancing fire in our midst.
The fire in the midst of the Hebrew's camp did more than bring forth the shalom of God. It did more than bring a sense of community to the people. The fire and the cloud gave them direction for their lives. When it moved, they moved. When it stopped, they stopped. No one knew when it would move or where it would take them next.
I would imagine that, people being people, a few folks in the camp started trying to figure out this cloud and fire. There had to be someone who would lie in bed at night and begin to calculate the number of days between its movement and the directions it had taken them in. The next morning he would run around the camp showing people his chart of time and movement that he had stayed awake all night to plot. He was so convinced and convincing that people would join in with him and live their lives based upon records of what God had done in the past, trying so hard to plot their future.
This group would begin to pack and take their tents down days ahead of time, only to spend a few nights lying on the ground without a tent. Man's calculations and thinking had once again not lined up with a God who does not work by man's methods and thoughts. After a few days, this group would begin to put their tents back up and unpack, maybe to see the cloud begin to move on a different day than they had thought. And by the way, "It has never moved that direction before!"
As you read the above fictitious account, you may be laughing about your own history of seeming miscalculations and seeming missteps in following your Creator through the years. At least I am. We each desire to know where the cloud is moving and what direction it will take us long before it is revealed. Of course this is called walking by sight, which is not the way HaShem desires us to walk. His desire is for us to walk by faith. Stop for a moment. I used the word “seeming” in the above sentence. Life has taught me that there are times I thought were misteps, but in actuallity it was His leading to take me to a place of learning.
What can we learn from the pillar of cloud and fire that can help us today in our own walk through life? Let's look at a few ideas.
The first thing to understand is Who is directing. When we settle the thought that it is our Father, our Creator and the One who loves us more than words can say that is directing us, then we can rest, no matter if the cloud is moving or stationary, no matter how long it stays in one place or what direction it is going.
We also understand that the cloud helps us remember we have a common goal and a common destination. The cloud reminds us that we are one family, having one God and in the end having one home.
The cloud keeps us aware of the awesome fact that we have been chosen from among the world to be a special people with a special lifestyle. It also reminds us that others can see the cloud, but in the end it will not be the cloud which brings people to our God. It will be the testimony of the people who are following the cloud.
There is a difference between the cloud of the Hebrews and the cloud each of us follows today. The Hebrews had already been gathered into one place and were moving as one community through the wilderness. For us today, we live in what is referred to as the Diaspora, from the word disperse. We all have been scattered into the nations, but in the end will be brought back together just as our ancestors were on their way to the Promised Land. We are each following a part of the cloud today, a part that is moving us, some spiritually, some physically at this time. But in the end it will direct us all to a common place, a common goal and a common home.
We must each learn to follow our cloud. We must all learn to trust in His leading. We must be willing at a moment's notice to go where He tells us to go. We must be willing to be misunderstood by others. Remember, we are not following their cloud. Rather we are following our own cloud, which in the end will bring us together. We must respect each other's leading and understand that at times we will make mistakes of turns along the way. But in the end, the steps of the righteous will work together for His purpose.
We live in exciting days today. Clouds are moving all over the world. These clouds tell us that the journey is beginning to turn toward its final destination. Let us not try to figure it out, but instead keep our eyes affixed to the slightest movement, the slightest turn. Let us walk with purpose with our eyes on the goal He has placed before us. Let us rejoice as we see parts of clouds come together to again, one day, make a whole.
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