The Cloud Above the Tabernacle
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.
Often we hear the question, "How can we know God if we can't see Him?" The main purpose of the bible is the written revelation of God is and His desire for us to know Him and be known by Him. The first way God reveals himself, called "General Revelation", is through Creation. When we see the world around us it begs the question, "who made the earth and everything in it?" And we today we see that God revealed himself through the tabernacle where God dwelt through His Spirit. As one writer has said,
"In the Tabernacle, we find God dwelling among His chosen people. "Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it" (Exodus 25:8-9). The Tabernacle symbolized the dwelling place of God in the midst of His people. "There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel" (v. 25)."
Moreover we see today that the cloud's presence over the tabernacle by day and fire by night, was a symbol of God's presence. When it stayed, they stayed. When it left, they left. This is how God led them through the wilderness. Then in John, Jesus says, "anyone who loves me will obey my teaching, and my Father will make our home with them." Literally this would be translated "we will tabernacle with the ". So Jesus came to earth to dwell among us and then invited us into a relationship with God through Him.
Later before Jesus left he said, "It is good for me to go, so I can send the Holy Spirit, who will come and dwell within you." That is why Paul says our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Just like God dwelt in the tabernacle which became the temple, He would know dwell in each of us at Pentecost.
Finally, in Revelation, we see that one day we will dwell with God and Jesus forever in heaven. We will be directly in God's presence day and night and worshipping Jesus. So we see the progressive revelation of God, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit to us, His prized possession. God's desire is not to be hidden, but to be revealed for all to find him. The only question is do we really want to find him? If we do, we will!