Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels. – Exodus 40:34
The “condensate” of God returns….The “condensate” or cloud of the Lord is still the way God is choosing to reveal himself to the Israelites. The preceding chapters went into details about the tent of meeting or tabernacle and all the decorations and items that would adorn this place where God would meet Moses. As I understand it, the Tent of Meeting or tabernacle was sort of a mobile version of Mount Sinai, complete with consuming fire and permeating cloud in the sight of the Israelites during all their travels. The Lord was among them in a very tangible way.
I am struck by the contrast between all the pomp, extravagant decoration, and adornment in the tabernacle; and the simple and elemental presence of God in a cloud. As I ponder this I cannot help but feel that the Israelites’ need for a tangible presence was part of a “turning away” from the simple elemental presence of God toward earthly trappings which is still going on today (Christians and Jews). For some reason the Israelites were more comfortable with fire, a cloud, and a really well adorned tent than a God who they could not see but who saw them.
Jesus, when he came, attempted to remove this focus on things by sharing his very being with the disciples and his followers in an elemental way. Jesus used things like mud and water in his healings. In order to be baptized all one needed was a statement and a stream. Jesus was very basic and elemental, just like the water in the cloud — condensate of God.
It is a bit amazing that soon after Jesus was gone there were some followers who immediately wanted to replace him again with external trappings and “pomp”. I think God still speaks to us through elemental things like rain and clouds if we have the eyes to see it. The amazing thing about the relationship that Jesus offers is that God himself is with us, part of our very being. There are people who feel closer to God when they are surrounded by icons, elaborate decorations in a church, or elaborate decorations of their soul. I do not know what God thinks of these trappings, but I suspect if they make it harder for people to see the God who sees them it makes Him sad.
Prayer: Lord help me to be content with your elemental spirit as revealed in your Son Jesus Christ.