(Exodus 40:17, 36-37 NIV)
17 So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year.
36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out;
37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted.
It had been a year since the Israelites had left Egypt and they had been camped at Mount Sinai for about nine months. During this time God gave them the law and they constructed His dwelling place, the tabernacle. On the day it was erected for the first time, the tabernacle became the focal point of the Israelites because God dwelt there among His people. The cloud signified God’s presence and as long as the cloud was there, they stayed put. When the cloud lifted, it was time to go. God’s Spirit directed their daily lives in accordance with His ultimate plan for them.
I’m sure some of the people were anxious to get moving. They wanted to get to their new country and settle down. They probably never unpacked the whole time they were at Sinai. I’m equally sure that others had gotten comfortable there in the desert. When it came to leave, they weren’t happy about hitting the road again. Consider however, what would have happened to a group of people who decided to leave ahead of schedule. They didn’t know where they were going and most likely would have ended up being destroyed by the inhabitants of the area. Likewise, if when the Israelites left, some decided to stay behind and settle there, they would have suffered the same fate. Although it may be hard waiting for the cloud to move or leaving when it does, the key to success is obedience.
God doesn’t dwell in a tent any more; He dwells in the heart of all believers. We don’t have a cloud to watch; He directs us through His Holy Spirit. Other than the cloud and the tent, things are much the same today as they were at Mount Sinai. God still has an ultimate plan for His people and still directs each life on a daily basis in accordance with that plan. The key to success is obedience.
Think about your life today. Do you want a change but can’t put your finger on what you should do? Maybe you should stay put for a while. God may be teaching you something that will prepare you for your next assignment. Do you feel the Lord nudging you to move but you don’t want to because you’re comfortable? Confess your complacency and release yourself to Him because you won’t be truly happy otherwise. Stay or go, the key to success is obedience.