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Lent Devotion for February 24

Part of our Lent Devotion series, written by Dr. Dan Sharp, Minister of Worship. (Subscribe)

"The cloud covered it.”

Reader: "On the day the Tabernacle was set up…”
Response: "…the cloud covered it.”

SCRIPTURE: Numbers 9:15–23

15 On the day the Tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the Tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 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 camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the Tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the Tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 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. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”

SOME THOUGHTS:
Imagine you were one of the Israelites wandering in the Sinai desert. There were more than a million of you. There were forty to fifty deaths every day for forty years. You were often wondering where the next water would come from. You were nervous about enemies. You got the same food every day. You moved forty-three times in forty years! Doesn’t sound like a very exciting way to live. Your rebellion against God put you in that place. God was leading you in the desert, but how did you know? His presence was visible in the cloud in the day and in a pillar of fire at night. There is much more to a cloud then may appear. The cloud was their protection. When the Egyptian army of Pharaoh was on their heels, the pillar of fire (God) moved behind them to protect them as they moved through the Red Sea. The cloud of fire was on the mountain as Moses received the Ten Commandments. The cloud was present in the Tent of meeting when Moses spoke with God. The cloud hovered over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. A cloud filled the Temple Solomon built at its dedication. A cloud of fire enveloped Elijah as he ascended to heaven. A cloud enveloped Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. A cloud descended covering Jesus at the Ascension. At the end of the age, Jesus will return in a cloud of glory! These are just some examples of the cloud motif in Scripture. The cloud is a visual manifestation of the presence of God in the midst of His people. The Israelites could see that God was present among them. In Jesus’ own words, “Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe.” So, when you see clouds in the sky, perhaps they are a hint, a reminder of… 

MUSIC:
"The Holy Radiant Light” by Nordic Choir Luther College (Watch on YouTube)

“O Gladsome Light” This is the earliest Christian hymn to appear after the Bible. This is the translation of both songs.

Translation:    Russian Men’s Choir  (Don’t miss this! Sung in Russian.) This is the translation for both songs.

"O Gladsome Light of the holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ. Now we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening. We praise God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For it is right at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world glorifies Thee."

"O Gladsome Light" by A. Grechaninov, Russian Men’s Choir (Watch on YouTube)

PRAYER:
Eternal God, who has neither dawn nor evening, yet sendest us alternate mercies of the darkness and the day; there is no light but Thine, without, within. As Thou liftest the curtain of the night from our abodes, take also the veil from all our hearts. Rise with Thy morning upon our souls: quicken all our labor and our prayer: and though all else declines, let the noontide of Thy grace and peace remain. May we walk, while it is yet day, in the steps of Him who, with fewest hours, finished Thy most divine work. –Amen.

- James Martineau, Prayers Ancient and Modern, p.249 

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General / Lent Devotions, Lent 2018