So I am reading more about those Israelites and Moses. There are times when I LONG for the physical manifestation of God’s Spirit that they had. They were essentially nomads. They were living in tents and following God every step of the way. At first they had the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, that was God’s divine guidance for the Israelites. Then later once the tent of meeting was completed they had this cloud that would hang out inside the holy place on the mercy seat of the ark of the testimony until it was time to move again and then it would hover over the tent of meeting so the Israelites would know it was time to move on.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a physical sign essentially flashing saying, “GO this way and NOW.” I would certainly have more clarity or at least I think I would. The bottom line is that even with this physical manifestation of God the Israelites whined, complained, and didn’t trust God. They didn’t have the type of food they wanted, the land they were to conquer was filled with scary giants, when water was scarce they asked if Moses brought them out to the desert to die…I look at that and I think WHAT were these people doing? However my reading in Numbers 11 last night finally illuminated it for me…
You see Moses was tired of the Israelites complaining. He was fed up with their rebellious and stiff-necked ways. He said to the Lord, “”Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” Numbers 11:11-15 I LOVE that Moses the man God chose to lead His people, the man who committed murder, the man who has been pouring out his life to lead God’s people, the man who speaks to God face to face could ask God this question. Let’s think about this, Moses saw the miracles and was the vessel for the plagues to begin and end. He knew God’s power, he knew God’s strength, he knew God’s sufficiency, and yet he was troubled.
Have you ever been in charge of a group of people? Your children? Student council? A Bible study? Children you are babysitting? You may love and care for these people whomever they are, but they begin to moan or won’t listen or are disrespectful. They begin to be a difficult burden to bear and here Moses tells God I can’t do it alone…Don’t you think God wanted Moses there? If we could do it all by ourselves it wouldn’t be God in us and it wouldn’t be God through us corporately. He wants us together doing His business. Don’t you think this is the picture of Godly community in which God wants us to participate? (ok the community thing is a side note, but true, we can’t do this Christian life alone. we have to have a community of believers around us. we can do more together anyway).
So God tells Moses to call seventy leaders from the people so that God’s spirit will reside in them as well as Moses. Here is the rub for me. The Israelites had the physical manifestation of God’s spirit to see, but they didn’t have God’s spirit within them. Let me say it this way, they didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit guiding, directing, changing their hearts. See the difference. The Israelites had something they could see, but not abide in. They had something physical, but not internal. Once the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost every person who puts their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior becomes the mercy seat. No, they don’t physically see God, but they have a deep abiding relationship with His Spirit. They can quench the fire of the Spirit, but they can’t lose it. It is like knowing who the President is as he guides our country. Following him because he is our elected leader. Maybe you don’t always like or understand his decisions and maybe you respectfully oppose his leadership, but he is still leader. Or living in the White House with the president. Eating breakfast with him chatting about the health care plan over lunch, following through his daily itinerary. In the first scenario there is no true relationship other than you know who the president is and you know he is leading you. The second scenario you have a deep abiding relationship. You go with him wherever he takes you. It is the same with God. The cloud of His Spirit is in me! His guidance and direction are in ME! He has made his abode or home within me. I have the opportunity to daily see that Cloud, hourly I can consult that Cloud, every minute He is available to me to rejoice or comfort or guide or direct. I only have to take the time to do it.
Praise God that He didn’t just leave us with the physical manifestation of His Spirit. He had better things in store for us. He had a desire for this deep abiding relationship. He desires that relationship with you, with me, with Barack Obama, with George Bush, with Sarah Palin, with Howard Stern. Isn’t it amazing? What a God we serve!