God was leading His Old Testament people to a new land which He was providing for them. In order to reach this new land they had to go through the wilderness. While God's people were in the wilderness the way was unknown to them, and the Lord had to guide and direct their steps. God had promised His people that He would always be with them, and God kept that promise. God gave them daily food from the sky in the form of a kind of bread called manna. God also directed them and guided their every movement. God directed them with a cloud by day and a pillar of light at night. This cloud was always above their tabernacle, and it was a symbol of the Lord's presence. The tabernacle was their tent church which could be picked up and moved when they were directed by the Lord to move. "Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord's command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in the camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord's order and did not set out. (Numbers 9:17-19) God's people had to depend on the Lord day by day and moment by moment for His direction and guidance.
We too as God's people today are walking through the wilderness of this life. We are headed for our eternal home! The Lord knows and has planned every detail of our lives, and He is directing and guiding our every step along the way. We can be absolutely certain of His guidance each and every day of our lives. He says to us in Hebrews 13:5b, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." The Lord also promises us in Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." It is important that we follow and wait for the Lord's guidance in our lives. We must not run ahead of the Lord's direction, and we must not seek to solve a problem situation in our lives in our own way. We also must not lag behind the Lord, and we must not delay to act when He has made His will clear to us. We will have a greater sense of the Lord's guidance, as we spiritually grow in Him. Hence, we need to spend time in prayer and reading His Holy Word.
There are times in the wilderness of life when we will be asked to wait. The Israelites must have become impatient at times when God made them just wait. Numbers 9:22 tells us that "whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out." The wilderness was obviously a less than desirable place for the Israelites to be, but in spite of their impatience they needed to wait for the Lord's direction to move on. Sometimes we are kept waiting by the Lord also. We may be in the midst of a very difficult situation or trial in our life. Perhaps with every fiber of our being we desire that difficult situation to be resolved. We must not run ahead of the Lord, however, and seek to resolve the situation with our own resources. We must wait in submission on the Lord. Sometimes this waiting on the Lord is a short period of time. Sometimes it can even be years in duration. The Lord knows what He is doing by sometimes allowing certain difficult situations and circumstances in our lives. Through these difficult times we often grow the most spiritually. We must be submissive to the Lord's will and rest in Him. We also must move out in obedience when the Lord clearly directs us to do so. Sometimes this involves leaving our comfort zone for other areas of service. God's will is always best, however, and we must follow it.