Numbers 9:15-23 - The Cloud

Numbers: A Book of Worship  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  16:10
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Numbers 9:15-23

Numbers 9:15–23 LEB
15 And on a day setting up the tabernacle, the cloud covered the tent of the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony; in the evening it was on the tabernacle as an appearance of fire until morning. 16 So it was continually; the cloud would cover it and the appearance of fire by night. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted up from on the tent, after that the Israelites would set out, and in the place where the cloud dwelled, there the Israelites camped. 18 On the command of Yahweh the Israelites would set out, and on the command of Yahweh they encamped; all the days that the cloud dwelled on the tabernacle they encamped. 19 And when the cloud prolonged on the tabernacle many days the Israelites kept the kept requirement of Yahweh and did not set out. 20 When the cloud remained a number of days on the tabernacle, on the command of Yahweh they encamped; and on the command of Yahweh they set out. 21 When the cloud remained from evening until morning, and the cloud lifted up in the morning, they would set out, or if it remained in the daytime and at night, when the cloud lifted up they set out. 22 When it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud prolonged to dwell on the tabernacle, the Israelites encamped, and they did not set out; when it lifted up they set out. 23 On the command of Yahweh they encamped, and on the command of Yahweh they set out. They kept the requirement of Yahweh, on the command of Yahweh in the hand of Moses.

Leaving Sinai

This passage marks the beginning of Israel’s departure from Sinai o the way to the Promised land.
On the Day setting up the tabernacle, the cloud covered the tent of the Tabernacle. This sets the date in line with Exodus 40.
The pillar of cloud has already been mentioned in the story of Israel. In the Exodus story. As they made the journey from Egypt to Sinai.
But now the cloud is no longer just sitting at the temple it is guiding the way. Cloud by day pillar of fire by night.
It wasn’t just a cloud that they saw, it says they moved on the command of God.
At the command of the Lord” is, literally, “at the mouth of the Lord,”
And the word came through the cloud.
The picture of Israel’s dependence on the divine guidance is a beautiful one; but it has been well said that “the children of Israel in the wilderness, surrounded by miracle, had nothing which we do not possess…. Their guidance came by the supernatural pillar; ours comes by the reality of which that pillar was nothing but a picture.” Alexander Maclaren, Exodus, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 11 vols. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1907), p. 305.
A picture of God before them

Going Before Them

God went before them (Ex. 13:21; 40:38) until the day they entered the land. This is an eloquent reminder, in New Testament terms, that the Christian life is not the acceptance of a system, but the entrance into a fellowship, into a relationship of companionship with Christ.
One in which Christ Joins us in leading us. As we follow him as we are his disciples.
The assurance of the divine guidance: The Lord led them unerringly where they were to go, and when (in spiritual life the “when” is quite as important as the “where”; to move before God’s time always leads to trouble).
Psalm 107:7 CSB
7 He led them by the right path to go to a city where they could live.
Commenting on Israel’s wilderness journeyings, the psalmist says, “He led them forth by the right way” (Ps. 107:7)—not always the expected way, or even the shortest way (see Ex. 13:17–19), but with God in the lead, the longest way round is the shortest way home.
There is plan and purpose in all He does, and all He does is for the best.
He guides!
John 14:6 LEB
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Our our Lord of assurance, declares I am the way. Even when we are left asking “how can we know the way?” How can I know. Jesus declares I am the truth. I am the Life. Even in impossible situations.
Psalm 32:8 LEB
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go. I will advise you with my eye upon you.
What a blessing. Amen

Living With Them

When one thinks of the fractious nature of the Israelites, their murmurings and backslidings, their turning aside and falling away from God, it becomes an even greater marvel to realize that throughout all, His presence was unchangeably with them. He had to rebuke them and chastise them. Many times He was angry with them, but He never left them.
He was in their midst.
What a statement of a God whose grace is greater than our sin.
Romans 8:31 LEB
31 What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
That Pillar was a guarantee to Israel of God’s shelter and protection.
If God is for us with us, who can be against us. What a wonderful and amazing showing of what will be God’s gift to us. The Holy Spirit. Living in you, with you, and around you.
Acts 2:2–4 LEB
2 And suddenly a sound like a violent rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues like fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability to speak out.
Speak out. Don’t need languages that can’t be understood. Speak out in the tongue that will spread his Kingdom. Spread out in the tongue and actions that will share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


The Lord of the cloud the Lord of Moses.
Exodus 34:5 LEB
5 And Yahweh descended in the cloud, and he stood with him there, and he proclaimed the name of Yahweh.
God has revealed Himself to Christ, as the God of Love and Grace.
John 14:9 LEB
9 Jesus said to him, “Am I with you so long a time and you have not known me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’
This is the Lord of the Cloud. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”
Exodus 33:9–11 CSB
9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and remain at the entrance to the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 As all the people saw the pillar of cloud remaining at the entrance to the tent, they would stand up, then bow in worship, each one at the door of his tent. 11 The Lord would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend, then Moses would return to the camp. His assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent.
“the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
This is the ultimate possibility of the cloud. It points us to the personal communion that all who trust in Christ may have with the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It is not merely forgiveness that the gospel proclaims, though that was a gospel all in itself; nor is it merely a gospel of new life, or of the restoration of the divine image in man; best of all, it is fellow ship with Him. Jesus said, “You are My friends” (John 15:14).
We know the power of friendship even on the human level to exercise a decisive and definitive influence in our lives. How much more is this true with a friendship with Christ.
His is the transforming friendship; it is the fellowship of the burning heart (Luke 24:32). We become our true selves when we walk with Him.

Next Steps

How is your friendship with Christ?
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