When Israel was in the wilderness, God led the nation with a pillar of cloud or fire. The pillar regularly appeared as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the pillar settled over the Tabernacle and the camp of Israel, it represented God’s presence and protection.
The cloud or fire also provided divine guidance by indicating when the Israelites should move on. When the pillar was stationary, Israel stayed where they were. When it lifted and moved, the Israelites broke camp and followed. They camped in different places for varying amounts of time, sometimes briefly and sometimes for awhile.
The Israelites were constantly looking at the pillar of cloud or fire, God’s presence among them, to see what they should do. Should they pack up camp and move on? Look and see if the pillar of cloud or fire over the Tabernacle has lifted. Should they remain where they were? Look and see if the pillar of cloud or fire remained in place over the Tabernacle.
The indwelling Holy Spirit is God’s presence among us, individually and collectively. He is our pillar of cloud or fire. If we constantly look to Him for guidance, He will show us when to camp and when to travel!
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (John 16:13, NLT)