READING: Numbers 8-10
I admit it — I’m impatient. I grew up in a microwave world, and I want answers now. I have a tendency to get laser-focused on ideas or goals, and I consequently don’t always listen to those who encourage me to slow down and consider all the options. I can tell you too many stories of the anguish I’ve faced when I moved forward too quickly without the clarity of God’s guidance.
That’s why today’s reading strikes a powerful chord with me. These chapters say a lot about waiting and following . . . and waiting and following:
- When certain men had touched a dead body (thus making them unclean) but still wanted to observe the Passover, they sought direction from Moses and Aaron. Moses’ first answer was simple and clear: “Wait here until I hear what the Lord commands for you” (Num 9:22). How I wish I had heard such words at different points in my life when my rush for answer led to difficulties. It’s foolish indeed to proceed without the Lord’s command.
- It is, though, the story of the cloud that led God’s people through the wilderness that most clearly speaks about following God. It’s a longer section, but certainly worth reading. The bottom line is this: the people did not move unless they had clear guidance of the Lord — if God said to wait, they waited. In fact, all the detail in this text suggests (rightly) that following God precisely as He intended matters: On the day the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and it appeared like fire above the tabernacle from evening until morning. It remained that way continuously: the cloud would cover it, appearing like fire at night. Whenever the cloud was lifted up above the tent, the Israelites would set out; at the place where the cloud stopped, there the Israelites camped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at the Lord’s command they camped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they camped. Even when the cloud stayed over the tabernacle many days, the Israelites carried out the Lord’s requirement and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud remained over the tabernacle for only a few days. They would camp at the Lord’s command and set out at the Lord’s command. Sometimes the cloud remained only from evening until morning; when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out. Or if it remained a day and a night, they moved out when the cloud lifted. Whether it was two days, a month, or longer, the Israelites camped and did not set out as long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle. But when it was lifted, they set out. They camped at the Lord’s command, and they set out at the Lord’s command. (Num 9:15-22)
- God was the warrior for His people, and He would defeat their enemies — but only according to His plan: “When you enter battle in your land against an adversary who is attacking you, sound short blasts on the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God and be delivered from your enemies” (Num 10:9). Again, I suspect I would have won more spiritual battles if I had waited on Him to fight my battle rather than rushing into the war in my own perceived wisdom and strength.
ACTION STEPS: Consider these steps today:
- Slow down something in your life. Take time just to commune with God and listen to Him.
- Find someone in your life who can remind you if/when you have a tendency to move too fast.
- Ask God for clarity and direction in some area of your life. If He says, “wait,” do that.
PRAYER: “Lord, I’m way too impatient. Forgive me, and change me. Give me faith to trust Your timing on all matters.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Numbers 11-13