When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. – Exodus 24:15-18
Again God arrives in the form of a condensate of water, i.e. a cloud. Interestingly, the passage does not say that God was in the cloud, merely that He arrived at the same time. God’s presence descended on Mount Sinai and spoke to Moses. Moses had a close-up view of god in the cloud, while the Israelites viewed the scene from a distance. This will become a recurring theme with the Israelites.
The Israelites saw fire and Moses saw cloud. What was going on? How could God appear so differently to the Israelites than he appeared to Moses? Fire can be scary, out of control, and consumes all in it’s path. Moses had a posture and perspective that allowed God to permeate his soul like a cloud. The Israelites saw a distant “fire”. Fire and water are incompatible…they can’t really coexist. Perhaps the Israelites were spiritually unable to see God’s subtle spirit…they could only see fire.
I think we can be like Moses or the Israelites. We experience or “see” God differently depending on where we are standing and what our posture and perspective is at the time. The only way to make sure we see the “God who sees us” is to check our spiritual posture often.
Prayer: God help me to sense your presence today, whether that is as a permeating cloud or a fearful and consuming fire.