21The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29for indeed our God is a consuming fire.
Reflection: The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light.
It would be nice to have God physically in front of us, leading us throughout the days and nights of faith. No shining light of our own success would be able to blind us of God’s presence; the cloud of God would be there to humbly direct us back to his love. No impenetrable darkness would cover us and shroud us from truth; God’s brilliance would lift our eyes to his glory.
The Israelites had this experience as they wandered through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. And yet, they still found it hard to follow faithfully! Perhaps the reality is that no matter what form God takes in our lives, we have to want to follow to do so faithfully. It reminds me of Jesus’s parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus. The rich man who received condemnation for his act of ignoring the poor man, Lazarus, begged Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn the rich man’s family and to inspire them to mend their greedy, self-centered ways. But Abraham replied to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
God might not be in front of us right now in a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire, but God is with us. We can choose to see God or ignore God. If we look for God, if we are intentionally aware that God is with us, then we will find our promised land. If we ignore God, or if we are ambivalent or apathetic about God’s presence, then we might find ourselves wandering aimlessly. God is there – it is our job to look for God expecting to see.
How might you see God today? What distractions might you need to clear away in order to see the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire? How might faith play a role in your ability to see God? May your eyes be opened and flooded with the brilliant light of God’s loving presence with you.
Journaling Focus: Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe.
What an interesting statement to precede the author’s claim that God is a consuming fire! The fire of God is preparing us for “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” through allowing us to live a life of “acceptable worship with reverence and awe.” It seems from this that the fire of God is here to consume all things within us and around us that do not reflect that kingdom. The kingdom of God is unshakable and will survive the consuming presence of the fire of God. The kingdom of God is pure, and will only be made purer by God’s blazing presence. So what is it inside of you that needs to be consumed to allow you to live a life of “acceptable worship with reverence and awe?” What in our world needs to be consumed in order that our world might reflect this “kingdom that cannot be shaken?” Think and reflect on these thoughts as you journal this week. Conclude your journal writing with a written prayer to our consuming-fire-God.
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (sometimes in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Explore: If you would like to explore the Scripture more deeply, go to our Exploring Scripture page!
Prayer Focus: The Lord went in front of them…so that they might travel by day and by night.
Perhaps you feel as though you are traveling in darkness right now. Your future might not be clear or you might feel confused or uncertain. Ask God for the light of discernment as you pray this week. Pray for a greater capacity to trust. However, you might also feel as if everything in clear in your life. Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for clarity if this is your lot. Trust God to continue to guide you and lead you. Whether you find yourself in day or night, walking confidently in the noonday sun or stumbling around in the midnight of a new moon, know that God is present and attentive to your needs as you travel.
Meditation Focus: For indeed our God is a consuming fire.
NOTE: During these ten weeks, as we explore the images of God, the meditation will be an audio meditation. There are four pictures that will appear with each meditation. These pictures are referenced in the audio meditation and are intended to help bring focus to the audio meditation.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- How is God purifying you?
- Where have you seen God’s light?
- Where have you experienced coldness and darkness?
- What does God need to consume within you?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Turn out all the electric lights in a room and light a candle. Sit in its soft glow in silence and in a spirit of meditation. What message does this one little light shining in the darkness communicate to you? Notice how your eyes slowly adjust and your pupils expand to take in more and more light. How much more clearly do you see after five minutes than when you first lighted the candle? Consider the candle to be a symbol of God’s presence with you. How is God filling you with light?
Breath Prayer: LORD God, burn within us.