The cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle . . . in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels. (v. 38 NIV)
Years of conflict still lay ahead in Canaan. Even so, we are not wrong to see the exodus story as a self-contained whole, and a pattern for the Christian life, with the promised land a picture of its final destination. The journey of all God’s people starts with a deliverance following the death of the Lamb, and then through experiences good and bad they are eventually led home to heaven.
It is an encouragement, then, to find the book of Exodus ending as it does. The pillar of cloud and fire guided Israel every step of the way until they were safely across Jordan. The cloud signified God’s own presence among his people, and he had promised never to abandon them.
It is a challenge, too. Their responsibility was never to let that symbol of God’s presence out of their sight. He undertakes to keep us in all our ways. But we need to be sure our ways are his ways, too; so we for our part undertake to keep close to him. That is the safe way home.
May I “every moment watch and pray, . . . and closely walk with thee to heaven.”