And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. – Exodus 13:21-22
I attend an international, non-denominational Bible study nine months a year called Bible Study Fellowship. Each year is a different in-depth look at a particular topic, with references taking you all over the Bible.
BSF resumes the week after Labor Day and this session, which runs through early May, we’ll be in the book of John.
In the six previous years the studies have included (in no particular order here) Isaiah, Genesis, Acts of the Apostles, Matthew, Revelation, and Life of Moses. I have loved each study as part of my lifelong pursuit to become biblically literate. When you study the Bible, it comes alive to you because it is the Living Word of God.
If I had to select a favorite study so far, I’d pick Life of Moses. His life, and the miracle of God bringing His nation, Israel, out from slavery in Egypt on a journey to the Promised Land, is alive for me on so many levels! The year of the study was the same one I literally experienced that Promised Land of Israel for myself with a group from my church and I will never be the same. The Word came alive as we physically walked upon the pages of the Bible in 3-D color.
I keep thinking about God manifesting Himself before the Israelites as a Pillar of Cloud by day, and a Pillar of Fire by night. How did the ancient Jews ever get over that? How could they quibble and complain when God led them on a daily journey where they saw Him in those forms, protecting and leading? Man, would I love a selfie with God the Pillar of both Cloud and Fire!
Oh, but I do the same as they did. Don’t we all? And today, God is living inside me as He is inside all Christians. Yet sometimes we take Him for granted or we rail or complain or doubt. I say this often: I’m being an Israelite again.
Still, I can't quit thinking of God appearing as a constant Pillar … leading and protecting.
I think of the manna He provided daily for His people, Israel. It was perfect nourishment, the supply to meet their daily needs. Yet they were not to store it away as spares for tomorrow in case God didn’t show up with more. No, He promised that He would provide it daily. They had to trust.
The thought of the manna is with me lately. When I want more than He has provided, want a spare something, want more than I need today, I am tempted to ask God why I don’t have that reserve.
He shows me the manna. His showing me the manna is in the form of supernatural, spiritual provision that keeps coming to mind. It is enough to trust Him. I even wrote the word MANNA on a slip of paper and taped it to my computer. He’s that serious about this topic, and I’m that serious about remembering it.
Lately, the Hoosier skies have been putting on a show of wonderment. They are just clouds, I know, but they are part of His creation and they are spectacular, and I think of God as that Pillar of Cloud, leading, protecting. Facebook posts have been full of beautiful skies filled with clouds and sky, stunning sunsets and starry night scenes. It's all at once as new as today and as ancient as creation. I could spend hours looking up.
These photos were taken yesterday during my drive home from work. Enjoy the scenery, and don’t forget to look up.
The Bible Study Fellowship I attend is Monday nights at the host church, the Middletown Church of the Nazarene. This year’s study is Monday, Sept. 12 at 6:55-8:55 p.m. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. OR, just show up! There’s an introduction class that night. BSF is free and you’ll be surprised to find a couple of hundred women there too from all manner of denominations and backgrounds. Regionally, BSF also meets Tuesday mornings in New Castle, and there is a Richmond class. Wherever you are, there's likely a BSF class close enough for you to attend.