The Gospel According to Moses

DAILY DEVOTIONAL READINGS BY KIM HARRINGTON

Week VIII

moses-fire-15.jpg (15456 bytes)

 

Day 50: Following the Cloud

And whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterwards the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle they remained camped.

Numbers 9:17,18

Notice that Israel only moved when the cloud moved, and they only stopped and camped when the cloud camped. The cloud would lift off the tabernacle in the wilderness and move out into the wilderness, and then Israel would know it was time to move on themselves. Wherever the cloud stopped, the Levites would set up the tabernacle right under it, and the rest of the camp would take their places around it. In this way God quite literally directed all the comings and goings of His people.

He wants to direct us, too. Many people become Christians and figure that the whole idea of Christianity is to have your sins forgiven, and then begin to lead reasonably clean and upright lives. In our land this usually includes the "American dream:" to own your own home, raise healthy children, send them to school, have two cars, and all the rest. Spiritual things are respected, but mostly attended to only on Sundays, except for a brief daily "quiet time" and perhaps family devotions. God is acknowledged, but only when there is a crisisóa major decision or a family tragedyóis His will actively sought.

Jesus wants to be Lord over your entire life, not a respected guest once in a while. He wants to guide you each and every day. "Go straight... take a left... talk to this person... donít turn on that television show... give some money to that one over there..." etc. He has an program for each day of your life, but most Christians are too busy following their own agenda to even pause and think about what God might want them to do. Your career isnít your choice to make. Your ministry isnít either, you professional men and womenóitís not about getting advanced to a nicer position with a better home and school district for the kids, itís about doing the will of God. "But doesnít God want us to be happy, for my children to enjoy the good things of life?" someone may say. Yes, but only in following the Shekinah, only in being in the center of His will, can you really enjoy life and be happy.

Your children may be happier and more fruitful and productive as adults if they are raised in a third world country, without many of the comforts taken for granted by most Americans, if thatís where the cloud is leading you. Missionary children often grow up to be the statesmen and leaders of the next generation. You could have amore enjoyable life renting in the inner city than owning a home in the suburbs, if God has a work for you to do there. The key to success, happiness and fulfillment lies in the will of God, following the Shekinah. Put all your own plans on the chopping block and ask God what He wants. Donít be afraid. He loves you and your family more than you do and only desires your bestóand being God, He knows a little better what that is for you

 

Day 51: Church Growth & the Shekinah Factor

At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would keep the Lordís charge and not set out.

Numbers 9:18,19

We have seen how important it is for Christians to let the Lord guide them in their lives, whether in major decisions or day-by-day activities. If itís important for individual believers to be guided by the Lord, how much more should the leaders of the church, the Moseses and Aarons of today, watch the movements of the Lord and do their utmost to position themselvesóand the church of Christóin His perfect will and timing?

The minister today can stop by the Christian bookstore and pick up any number of "how-to" books that teach him how to grow a church. The best minds of the church are putting together excellent studies of the current mind-set of the people, how to appeal to them, what theyíre looking for, what kind of music baby-boomers prefer, and on and on. Certainly God wants us to use our brains, make use of information available to us, and use the various means that are available to us... to be ignorant when knowledge is just an armís-length away is a sin of neglect for the modern church leader. But God doesnít want us to rely on these things.

The brain is like a computer in many ways. It can hold an immense amount of information, and is able to access it in seconds to meet the need at hand. But God didnít intend our brains to guide our lives. He wants to personally guide us and command us. Itís good to have a computer, and be able to access facts, do arithmetic, keep records, and everything else you do with computers, but it cannot think by itselfóit can only do logical procedures on the basis of the information already fed into it. Just so is the human brain. Even the finest-tuned and most sanctified human brain can only sort out facts and supply information and lay things out in logical sequence. Thatís fine if youíre trying to balance the books, Pastor, but itís not enough if youíre leading a church to the promised land. The brain doesnít know whatís ahead on the way, and the brain doesnít know the hearts of men; the brain cannot see the enemy or defeat him when he arises against you. You need the direction of the Lord for this.

God wants to lead our churches into places of success and victory far beyond the imagination of the pastors and other leaders. Our brains can only think of success in terms of what weíve seen other people and churches do, but the Lord has a distinct plan for each congregation that is better than that. So instead of initiating half a dozen new plans based on the latest book, watch the cloud of Godís glory and see what Heís doing. The books can help you keep up with the Jonesís and stay abreast of the trends; the Glory will make you the trend-setter. Itís about time the church got back to leading the way, instead of following along a few hundred yards behind the world anyway.

 

Day 52: Practical Cloud-Following

At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would keep the Lordís charge and not set out.

Numbers 9:18,19

Someone may ask at this point, "How do I know where the cloud is going?... itís not as if the Lord were actually going before us in a pillar as He did in the Sinai wilderness." Thatís a good question. Itís all well and good to speak in spiritual terms and get people challenged and convicted, but if there is no practical application the end result is confusion and frustration.

Every once in awhile I like to assess myself and my ministry in the light of the Word of God, and sometimes Iím amazed at what I find. Not to long ago I wrote down all of the earthly activities of Jesus Christ, what He did each day, how much time He likely spent on it, and what seemed to be His priorities based on that information. Then I did the same for myself, what things I did in an average week, and compared the two. Thatís an eye-opening experience for a minister. In a couple of areas I didnít do so bad, like prayer and study time, and time spent discipling the followers. But in other areas, like evangelism, personal ministry, healing and casting out devils, I fell far short of the example of the Masteróalthough I believe in all these things, they were not priorities in my life as they were in His. And after all, it is the duty of the disciple to be as His Master, so I was found deficient and negligent in my duties.

The point is, the Bible gives us a good general idea of what God wants us to doónot just in our personal walk and what is sinful or righteous, but in the matter of ministry, and where the cloud may be leading us.

Our own gifts and callings further show the direction of the cloud in our lives and ministries. If you donít know your spiritual gifts you better find them out quick. Then donít be proud, and donít be over-humble about them, just quietly start practicing them as the needs are presented. God didnít gift me as a church-planter so I could be an associate pastor in a huge church and draw a comfortable salary; the cloud for me likely will be going towards gospel-needy and pioneer areas. You are equipped according to the job you have to doóif youíre not using your gifts, then you may not be following the cloud.

The Lord has a thousand ways of showing us His will and timing as we take various steps in His service, and itís not within the scope of this little message to give a full study on guidance. But Iíve found that whenever I ask for guidance, direction, and confirmation, He speaks and shows me the next step. If He isnít saying anything I assume the cloud is still over the place Iím camped now, and Iím still in His will. When the cloud moves I try to keep abreast of Him. Itís really not so different than Moses in the wilderness when you come right down to it. The important thing is to be submitted and sensitive to the Lordís commands. If you are, Heíll make sure to speak clear enough for you to hear.

 

Day 53: A Fearful Cloud of Judgment

Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam...But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold Miriam was leprous, as white as snow...

Numbers 12:5,10

The cloud not only brings guidance, direction and protection, it sometimes brings judgment. On several occasions when the cloud appeared, it was not necessarily the most pleasant of outcomes for some of the people involved. The same cloud that protected the Israelites their first night at the Red Sea put confusion and dread in the hearts of their Egyptian pursuers and caused their chariot wheels to stick and swerve. In Isaiah 19:1 the cloud is sent to Egypt once again, after several hundred years, and the result again was judgment.

When the cloud of God settled upon Mt. Sinai in Exodus chapter nineteen it was more fearful than comforting. God in His glory is awesome indeed, and only the foolish who have no concept at all of Him are without the fear of Him.

"So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightening flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled... Now Mt. Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently," (Ex.19:16,18).

What to one may be the joyous appearance of the Lordís cloud of guidance and protection, may to another be fear and judgment. Even the children of God have reason to fear the cloud, to the degree that they are not walking in purity before Him. Aaron and Miriam in the text above were not too excited to see the cloud when they were resisting the Lord and His servant Moses. Any believer whoís walking in self will and rebellion has reason to fear the cloud of the Lordís presence. Itís easy to say you are submitted to God when Heís a million miles away in heaven, but you canít fool yourself and others so easily when Heís standing before you in an awesome cloud of glory. Thatís why the Israelites were so afraid at Sinaióthey hadnít disobeyed yet, but their hearts were, for the most part, far from Him; and they felt uncomfortable having Him so close. Thatís why some Christians change churches often, or choose churches that they can hide in. They like the idea of God, but they donít want Him or anyone else to get very close and expose their carnal hearts.

How close do you want the Shekinah to come? What will the bright light of His glory reveal about your heart? Are you keeping things from Him? Is your confidence in the Lord based on an honest and heart-searching relationship with Him, or do you rely to heavily on an exaggerated concept of His grace, winking on sin and rebellion in your life, being sure that He must do the same? Donít get too close or your ideas may go up in smoke. On the other hand, thatís exactly what you may need to doóget close enough to Him to really see who He is, and get right with Him on His terms: believe in Jesus, walk in purity before Him, cleanse your heart and mind by the blood of Christ and the power of the Spirit. Then when that cloud comes for you, you may still be trembling a little in awe, but your heart will also be filled with the confidence that you are truly ready to meet God.

 

Day 54: The Cloud in the New Testament

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

Exodus 40:34

Weíve seen that this cloud of the Lordís presence, the Shekinah glory of God, appears again and again in the Old Testament. But how about the New Testament? Does the Shekinah appear in the New Testament? Yes, it does, and youíll be surprised at how often...

At the Mount of Transfiguration, when Jesus was seen by the disciples in glorified form, Matthew records that "a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, ĎThis is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; hear Him!í" (Mt.17:5). The disciples saw the cloud just as Moses and the children of Israel did. Notice that it was both bright and overshadowingóthe same indescribable appearance as in Exodus.

In Acts chapter one, when the Lord ascended into heaven, we see the Shekinah cloud again. It says in verse nine, "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." If this were an isolated incident we might dismiss it as any old cloud that happened to be in the sky at the time, but the regularity with which the cloud appears at times like this proves that it is no generic cloud, it is none other than the pillar of cloud that led the children of Israel in the wilderness, that descended upon Mt. Sinai, and that filled the tabernacle and later the temple. Notice also that Jesus didnít just go up into the sky until He got as high as the cloudsóthe disciples watching on couldnít have seen Him that far away anywayóbut the cloud "received Him" it says; it met Him and enveloped Him. This is obviously none other than the cloud of the Lordís presenceóand no wonder, for Jesus is the Lord.

As the disciples stood watching Him depart, two angels suddenly stood beside them and said, "This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." "In just the same way" means cloud and all, brothers and sisters. Matthew 24:30 and 26:64 both mention the "Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory," a prophecy from Daniel 7:13. Revelation 1:7 says, "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him..." Revelation 10:1 mentions a strong angel, very likely symbolic of the Lord Jesus Himself, for He is "clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire."

The whole earth shall see the cloud at the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and that will be an awesome sight indeed. For those who are not right with Him it will be a fearful time of judgment, similar to the quaking Mt. Sinai. It will be a cloud that separates them from the children of God as the pillar of cloud separated the Egyptians from the Israelites when they pursued the people of God to the Red Sea. But to the children of God it will be a bright cloud that represents the culmination of their salvation. More on that tomorrow...

 

Day 55: Resurrected in a Cloud

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:17

Here in a passage concerning the "rapture" or resurrection of the church we find again the mention of clouds. Is this the same Shekinah cloud that weíve been talking about for the last several days? Experts disagree, but Iím personally convinced it is, again because itís regularly mentioned in connection with the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of His saints. Weíve already seen from the books of Daniel, Matthew, Acts, and Revelation that Jesus will come back to earth in a cloud. It only makes sense that when His church rises to join Him they will be caught up in that cloud, too.

The cloud represents, as weíve said before, the manifest presence and glory of the Lord. Itís interesting that when we get caught up into a cloud, the next phrase says, "and thus we shall always be with the Lord." The cloud isnít just the sky, itís the dwelling place of the Lord.

Look again today at Revelation 10:1: "And I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud..." What cloud? A cloud from heaven. The same cloud that descended on Mt. Sinai, filled the temple, was seen in by Ezekiel, and which settled on the Mt. of Transfiguration. "And the rainbow was upon his head..." What rainbow? The rainbow. The rainbow that was placed in the sky as a sign of Godís grace, and the rainbow that is seen around His throne in Ezekiel 1:28 and Revelation 4:3. "And his face was like the sun and his feet like pillars of fire... and he cried out with a loud voice..." Sounds a lot like the description of Jesus in Revelation one: "and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters."

In the same context in Revelation, the two end-time prophets are resurrected and caught up in a cloud. After the beast has them killed, the Bible records that they suddenly stand to their feet after three days... "and they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ĎCome up here.í And they went up into heaven in a cloud and their enemies beheld them," (Rev.11:12). It is very possible that the entire resurrection of the righteous takes place at this time, for in the next few verses the seventh trumpet is sounded, and the elders in heaven worship the Lord saying, "Thou hast begun to reign...and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to Thy bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth."

In chapter fourteen there is also a reference to the resurrection: the Son of Man is seen sitting on a white cloud with a sickle in His hand. "Put in your sickle and reap," He is told, "because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of of the earth is ripe." Then follows a double reaping, one for the harvest, and one of judgment on the earth. This harvest is often referred to in the Bible. It is the resurrection at the end of the age.

Iím looking forward to seeing the cloud someday. It will mean the culmination of all that have lived and longed for, for I will see Jesus. How about you?

 

Day 56: Pharaohís Last Attempt to Resist God

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" ...Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea...

Exodus 14:5,9

Weíve seen that many of the incidents in the books of Moses are symbolic of New Testament truths. Pharaoh, for example, weíve compared to both Satan and the antichrist, setting up his worldly kingdom and defying the Lord again and again. There is a symbolism here in this incident where he chases down the Israelites after letting them go, too. It may be stretching it just a bit, but I think this is a type of the final rebellion of the devil described in Revelation 20:7-10.

In Revelation twenty the devil is thrown into the bottomless pit for a thousand years. This period is commonly known as the Millennium, when Christ Himself is ruling the earth. All the old enemies have been destroyed except death. Swords are beaten into plowshares and worldwide peace is in effect. At the end of this time Satan is released from his prison, and what do you suppose he does? He immediately starts deceiving the nations and raises another rebellion against the Lord, and marches upon Jerusalem with his armies. This army is decisively defeated with fire from heaven, and Satan and the rest of the unrighteous are then cast into the Lake of Fire.

The similarities between Satan and Pharaoh again are obvious. Both have been defeated alreadyóSatan has lost his antichrist, false prophet, and end-time empire, for the Lord Himself returned to earth and destroyed it all to set up His Millennial kingdom. Pharaoh likewise was in a defeated position: his country was in ruins, and just the night before he and Egypt had lost the firstborn of every family. The children of Israel were freed with a mighty divine hand of deliverance. And in the end times the people of God will have been freed from antichristís persecution and resurrected into glory.

Yet the enemy strikes again. Neither has the slightest chance of winning. Satan gets some satisfaction out of turning hearts away from Jesus, but Pharaoh gets none at all. It is simply a matter of venting their anger and frustration. Their stubborn pride will just not accept defeat gracefully. They are too reprobate. They will go down fighting, even though they know they must go down; there can be no other end result for those that fight the Almighty.

And go down they do. Pharaohís army is totally destroyed in the Red Sea, after being humiliated and confused by the cloud of Godís glory. Satanís "Gog & Magog" army is destroyed with fire from heaven, whose source is perhaps the very Shekinah cloud that Pharaoh saw 4500 years earlier.

Weíve made the point before, and no doubt will make it again: donít you be found fighting God! You cannot win. Youíre in terribly disgusting company. You will be humiliated, first by the devil, who is no easy taskmaster, and then by the Lord, who will not be mocked. Young people, listen to me. Backsliders, give an ear. Submit now before your heart is hardened beyond reach or reason.

 

The Gospel According to Moses, Week I

The Gospel According to Moses, Week II

The Gospel According to Moses, Week III

The Gospel According to Moses, Week IV

The Gospel According to Moses, Week V

The Gospel According to Moses, Week VI

The Gospel According to Moses, Week VII

 

 

All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Version unless marked otherwise.

Copyright © 2005  Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.

indyhome.jpg (4379 bytes)