The pillar of cloud featured prominent in Israel’s wilderness journey. The cloud was evidence of God’s presence, protection and guidance through the unfamiliar terrains of the wilderness way. The sighting of the cloud was the Lord manifesting Himself to the children of Israel. For “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud” (Exo. 13:21).
In the accounts of the wilderness exodus, who do you associate with? The children of Israel or Moses? I see two camps of people in relation to the cloud of God’s glory in the wilderness. One entered the cloud and the other followed the cloud. One had communion within the essence of the cloud and the other lived under its shadow. These two groups bespeak a people living in two realms: one group who follow religious observances and the other who ascends and descends the kingdom. These two represent the order of the church system and the order of the kingdom.
The first involved subjection to the law of sin and death. Israel lived under the dictates of the cloud. When the cloud moved the people journeyed and whenever the cloud settled, there the people pitched their tent. At times the people remained in the same camp for days, months and even a year just as the cloud remained above the tabernacle. Many knew not why they settled in the same place. They knew not of the plans of God or where the cloud was going. There was no communion with the essence of the cloud.
We can also see two ministries, two types of clouds. One that descended on Mount Sinai and of which Moses said: “I am exceedingly afraid and terrified”. The other, the pillar of cloud which the children of Israel saw and experienced every day without any fear. The first signifies a higher realm, a greater order and dispensation of God and a manifestation from which came the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words. It is in this realm that we hear His voice and receive into us His word which is made strength and reality to our new creation. It was also in this realm that the impartation of the law of the Spirit takes place in those apprehended, just as Moses received the law and the patterns atop Mount Sinai.
For the children of Israel who followed the pillar of cloud, it imparted no word and no life to them. Nevertheless, it was ordained by God, just as the law was added because of transgressions until the Seed should come. And even though the Lord directed their path, the ministry of the external manifestation of the pillar of cloud never did transform them. It was a reality and manifestation of God apart from them. Yes, they could see it by the seeing of the eye and they could rejoice, but they had no union or fellowship with the essence, power, wisdom and life that guided them those 40 years. What a tragic people. They wasted their life circling the wilderness following the cloud. Sure, they trusted the cloud for guidance but they refused to be joined with the Spirit and Truth behind the cloud that was leading them. Thus they cried: “let not God speak with us” (Exo. 20:19).
The testimony precedes them that “they refused Him who spoke” (Heb. 12:25). Over time, they grew familiar with the cloud. It became a part of their everyday. And soon without reservation they could worship their Egyptian idols under the same cloud. How many refuse Him who speaks today?
The children of Israel bespeak a people who want God just to a degree -only to the extent that He will do them God. They follow God because God will guide, protect and sustain them. Beyond this, they want no more of God. They desire not to press into being filled with all the fullness of God. And so they remain satisfied in their in-part knowledge following the cloud all their days. These refuse to leave their comfort to ascend the mountain to experience a greater dimension of God.
The children of Israel also signify those who bask in the gift realm under their denominational clouds. They are a people satisfied with following signs and outward manifestations. For Israel, the red sea was parted, they drank water from the rock, every day they ate manna from heaven, their garments never grew old those 40 years, and the pillar of cloud and fire never left their side. Yet despite all these miracles, the people’s heart grew dull and rebellious.
The scriptures contrast between the in-part and the perfect and between seeing dimly in a mirror and seeing face to face. The in-part gift realm is an inferior ministry to that which is perfect. “But whether there be prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part, but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Cor. 13:8-9).
The in-part was what the children of Israel lived under. A fragmented knowledge of God and His purposes. It was a spiritual walk of dependence on external manifestations of signs and wonders. They came to the mountain that may be touched and they heard the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words and refused Him who spoke. They only desired Him for the manna, the drink, the covering from the sun, the protection and guidance, but they refused union with the voice (word).
Indeed, they were exceedingly afraid for the voice of Him who speaks from heaven shook the earth. “But now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth but also heaven.’” (Heb. 12:26). We are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken. Yet the voice of the Lord is now causing a shaking in the wilderness way to remove all the baggage of the carnal mind.
Today, many seek signs and follow external manifestations – a cloud. “But He sighed deeply in His spirit and said: ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?’ ” (Mark 8:12). The people gathered not to hear the voice from heaven that spoke with them of the divine Kingdom of God. Instead they came to be entertained and to appease their natural desires. The Lord admonishes them saying: “this is an evil generation. It seeks a sign…” (Luk. 11:29). Like their fathers, many turned away from the invitation to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Not knowing that the wilderness was a lesson that man does not live by bread alone, they ate the manna and died.
Yet I speak this about my generation who has turned its face from God to chase the created thing. It sits under the cloud of its denominational covering following its dictates. They refuse the heavenly voice that speaks with them, they shut their ears, their faces become grim, they harden their hearts, they refuse to endure sound doctrine. They reject Him who speaks only offering their ears to their self-appointed overseers. A child gravitates toward his 5 senses. And those who minister to children draw on emotions, charisma, sensationalism, actions and entertainment. These are clouds without water. They are ministries that fail to impart life. The Lord admonishes them: “they have healed the hurt of My people superficially, saying ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14).
To those who have come unto Mount Zion, to the city of living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to hear the sound of the seventh trumpet and the voice of words, there will yet be a shaking of every remaining residue of carnality and self until the fire purges us to be the glorious company of sons who not only ascend and descend the mount of God but will be the very clouds of witness who will guide creation to the Promised Land of His fullness. For “behold, he comes with clouds” (Rev. 1:7).
This is a company who partake in the dispensation of the fullness of the Kingdom. They enter into the cloud, into union with the Lord to be swallowed by His glory until only He can be seen. This is the Mont Zion company, the 144,000, the sons of God who stand with the Lamb atop the heights of God’s glorious kingdom having their Father’s name written on their foreheads. Oh how we rejoice in this glorious life for which the Lord has apprehended us in this hour.
To those who treasure this beautiful hope of sonship, may He come with clouds!