Commentary: God's Theocracy (part 2)
Last week we saw how God's government is not a democracy, but a theocracy. We also saw that God's theocracy is different from man's version of theocracy. Man's theocracy is imposing the religious values of a group of clerics on all inhabitants of the land. God's theocracy is based on agape. God has our best interest at heart. This week's lesson shows more proof of God's theocracy. Chapter 33 of Numbers starts with these words,
Num33:1 These are the journeys of the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Num33:2 And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.
It's really an incredible history, if you think about it. An entire nation flees its captors after centuries of oppression and survives for four decades wandering in the hostile environment of the Sinai wilderness. This happened only by the grace, power, and miracles of God. Notice, too, how the text in Numbers 33:2 stressed that they moved place to place "by the commandment of the Lord." The Lord wanted them, and future generations, never to forget that the whole story of the Hebrew people on the move in the wilderness was, really, the story about God and His dealings with sinful human beings in an effort to save them and to bring them into the Promised Land. So, God commanded the people to go and stay at His command. Remember back in Numbers 9 when the Lord instructed Moses about this,
Num9:15 And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.
Num9:16 So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
Num9:17 And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.
Num9:18 At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.
Num9:21 And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.
Num9:23 At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
In the next chapter Moses narrates the first time they started this process,
Num10:11 And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.
Num10:12 And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.
God decided where they went and when. It was not Moses' decision; neither Aaron, nor Miriam's. It was not the people's consensus. No elections were held. In fact, they did not even send spies to gather intelligence on the land. They followed the cloud by faith.
You may be asking yourself, "where is my cloud?" The cloud shows God's mercy, but it is a visual sign, and "faith comes through hearing and hearing by the Word" (Romans 10:17). God gave the children of Israel visual signs because of their unbelief. When you believe the Word you hear, you do not need a cloud. Are you hearing and believing the Word?