Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD. The LORD said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. – Exodus 19:5-11
When I was in college I had the good fortune to work for a mineral collector mining for minerals in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle, Washington. I spent three summers living and working at about 3,000 feet elevation. I slept in a tent the first summer, then the following two summers I got an upgrade to a makeshift cabin. I got to blow things up with dynamite to recover mineral specimens. There were many days when we were in the clouds and the moisture permeated everything, but the minerals we collected and the view on clear days made it all worth it.
This passage follows a lengthy description of how Moses is going to manage the workload of all the people coming to him for judgement. The connection to water here is a bit of a stretch but clouds are certainly made from water and God has said He will come to the Israelites in a dense cloud — a Godly condensate. Now the interesting thing about water vapor is that water is present in the air all around us all the time. We only notice it when it either inconveniences us in the form of humidity on a hot day or when it condenses into a droplet in the form of fog, a cloud, or drops on our heads. Rain comes in many forms — in the wise words of Forrest Gump:“…We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night…”
I like the imagery of God arriving in a dense cloud — a cloud that permeates everything — our soul, the world in which we live, and the air we breath. We only notice Him when His spirit “condenses” into a more visible form. This happened in a striking, amazing, and memorable way when Jesus came to earth. But I think God’s spirit “condenses” in other smaller ways all the time. He becomes more “noticeable” when we pray, fast, quietly reflect, or sometimes when jarring life events happen like death or divorce. The trick is to get good at sensing God’s presence in the very air we breath so that we are not left waiting for the clouds to form in order to notice Him.
Prayer: God permeate my soul like water permeates the air. Give me a sense of your presence even when I cannot see you.