Probably the number one question I get from people is how they can know the will of God. These seekers generally are part of the church and have an interest in God’s plan for their lives. They are looking for some simple answers to understanding how to hear God’s voice and how to make the right decisions. How awesome it would be if God gave us four simple steps to follow. “If you do these four things, you can know God’s will!”
Wouldn’t we all like God to show Himself to us like He does to the Hebrews in this chapter. His glory filled the Tabernacle in the form of a cloud. From this point on, God would lead them with His glory. A cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night would direct God’s children to go in the right direction. If the glory of God settled on the Tabernacle, they were to stay where they were. But if it lifted and moved, they were to follow. How cool! We would love for God to speak to us in these ways.
The problem is that we don’t want to get there the way the Hebrews arrived at this point, by trust and obedience. We live in a fast food, microwave society. Drive through windows and microwave cooking can give us everything we need in a moments notice. But God’s will doesn’t work that way. Often, God will reveal His will slowly and will only show us Himself when we have already proven that we will obey. We want the cloud without the blind trust and obedience to God’s commands.
Have you picked up on how much the last several devotions from Exodus have focused on obedience? Do you get what has happened in this book? God gave His people the Law. He also revealed the plans for the Tabernacle, and all of the stuff that went with it, including the Ark of the Covenant, the altar, and the dress for the priests. God gave very specific instructions on how things were to be done. Then the people got to work. For weeks and even months, they began to follow God’s plan. I am sure that there were people who complained, thinking they should pick up and move on, without building the Tabernacle. There were probably others who complained that the building of this project was too costly. Still others who argued that they could cut corners and do some of the things in simpler and easier ways. But ultimately, God’s people trusted God at His Word and obeyed His Commands. They completed the building and assembly of everything God has asked for, and in chapter 40, the finally erected the structure, just as God had laid out. Every detail was followed, down to the last stitch. The priests were in place, and so was the Ark. They put up everything, just as the Lord has commanded.
Notice the last line in verse 33 and the first sentence of verse 44. “Thus Moses finished the work. THEN (emphasis mine) the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” God showed up after His people had perfectly obeyed. Now He would show them exactly where and when to go. Now the Hebrews could know God’s will. The glory of God would be their guide, but their commitment to trust and obey came first.
There are no four step processes or fast food approaches to knowing God’s will. But I do know this. If you are not obeying God in what He has already told you to do, don’t expect Him to show you His will on something new.
As we close Exodus, let me encourage you to take a few minutes to take an inventory on your life. Take a piece of paper out and think back over the last year. Think about the ways God has spoken to you. Maybe He spoke to you about a relationship you needed to fix. Or maybe He spoke to you about sharing your faith with someone. Possibly He spoke to you about the need to be baptized or get involved in His church in some way. Maybe God spoke to you about the need to go on a mission trip. Or maybe you know He is calling you to get rid of some habit. Write down the things God has spoken to you in the past year. Then ask yourself if you have obeyed Him. If not, get right with God. He will not show you something new until you obey Him in what He has already said.